Colleges, Fighting U.S. Trade Proposal, Say It Favors For-Profit Distance EducationCRLF

Andrea Foster, Tidsskriftet for Universiteternes Efter- og Videreuddannelse, Jan 15, 2002
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I didn't see this coming (I hate admitting that) but in hindsight I can't say I'm surprised. This excellent article is an overview of an attempt by the United States government to estanlish what amounts to global free trade in education by urging WTO member countries to reduce barriers such as restrictions on satellite reception, rules prohibiting foreign education providers from offering services, and taxes on foreign education providers. Not everyone is supportive, naturally. In contrast to the United States, countries like Canada have what amounts to a public higher education sector, and the effect of global free trade in education on the government supported system would be substantial, amounting, ultimately, to the privatization of the Canadian system. Yet on the other hand, countries like Australia are seeking access to international markets in China and southeast Asia as part of an overall economic development strategy. And the United States should not feel immune: just as the fluid market in software development has allowed a thriving industry to develop in India, that country's significant base in distance learning technology could allow it access to previously untapped markets in the United States and Europe. I urge all readers to take a look at this article and the full proposal (linked to in the article) and consider the impact on your own work.
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