22 SES 10 A, Critical Internationalisation and Global Citizenship in Times of Nationalist Popul(ar)ism
This paper offers a critical analysis of Irish higher education internationalization policy, as a lens for understanding broader reconfigurations of education in the context of crisis, austerity and their aftermath. It examines Ireland’s International Education Strategy 2016-2030 (Department of Education and Skills, 2016), and its predecessor policy (Department of Education and Skills, 2010). These placed higher education under the authority of the national export promotion agency, explicitly focusing on private sector and English as a Foreign Language (EFL), with limited relevance for public higher education institutions (HEIs). Generic skills and competences and entrepreneurial dispositions are promoted, but dimensions of internationalization such as curriculum, mobility or engagement with global issues are significantly underplayed, despite their importance in the views of internationalization’s academic and educational proponents (Association of Canadian Deans of Education, 2014). Despite their tangential inception, the national strategies have nevertheless significantly influenced public HEIs. The context of crisis and austerity forced alignment with undisputedly ‘shallow’ internationalization priorities and targets by bundling them into a sector-wide programme of ‘disruptive management’ which included staffing, promotion and budget cuts, accelerated managerial reform and performance targets, all designed to force greater centralized command and control, and limit academic autonomy, in the name of improving student skills and competences, student satisfaction and employability. Institutional reforms have replaced traditional academic accountabilities, disciplinary autonomy and the ethos of collegiality with a Machiavellian politics of divide and rule. The latter has worked by embedding antagonisms within the reforms – pitting teachers against researchers, students against academics, academics against administrators and domestic against international students. The entwined logics of educational internationalization and academic reform are hegemonic, but dangerously ‘empty’. Students are represented as empty of job-relevant skills and knowledge, while academics are represented as empty of relevance (Alvesson, 2013). Disciplinary knowledge is criticised as irrelevant and unsustainable (Frodeman, 2014). The emptiness is filled by entrepreneurialism, itself a dangerous emptiness (Kenny & Scriver, 2012). This paper argues that the current global trends of rising populism, racism, misogyny and intolerance make it imperative for HEIs to substitute empty entrepreneurialism with education focused on social cohesion and global solidarities. Higher education must reaffirm the centrality of global education and develop long-term strategies to meet the Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal 4.7 Ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong opportunities for all (UNESCO, 2015).
Alvesson, M., 2013. The Triumph of Emptiness: Consumption, Higher Education, and Work Organization. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Association of Canadian Deans of Education, 2014. Accord on the Internationalization of Education, Vancouver: Association of Canadian Deans of Education. Department of Education and Skills, 2010. Investing in Global Relationships 2010-2015, Dublin: Department of Education and Skills. Department of Education and Skills, 2016. Ireland’s International Education Strategy 2016-2030, Dublin: Department of Educarion and Skills. Frodeman, R., 2014. Sustainable Knoeldge: A Theory of Interdisciplinarity. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Kenny, K. & Scriver, S., 2012. Dangerously empty? Hegemony and the construction of the Irish entrepreneur. Organization, 19(5), p. 615–633. UNESCO, 2015. Education 2030 Incheon Declaration and Framework for Action for Sustainable Development Goal 4, Paris: UNESCO.
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