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Higher Education and International Capacity Building
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Bristol Papers in Education

Higher Education and International Capacity Building

twenty-five years of higher education links


2009 paperback 240 pages, £34.00, ISBN 978-1-873927-22-9

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About the book

For the past 25 years UK Higher Education institutions have forged research and teaching partnerships with their counterparts overseas. Many of these links were funded by the British Government and managed by the British Council’s Higher Education Links Scheme.
    This book takes an informed and critical look at issues and trends in global higher education over the past twenty five  years with an in-depth and often personal account of how these links were managed and led.
    Ten experts representing a variety of disciplines from areas such as conserving the natural environment, the promotion of human rights, and education and gender present an ‘insider’s’ view of their link, reflecting upon the successes and challenges in promoting research, developing institutional capacity at home and abroad, and the lessons they have learned.
    This book will be of particular interest to those working in higher education and international development generally; as well as students, researchers and professionals engaged in bilateral and multi-lateral development assistance programmes.

Contents [Please click on author name for summary]

Christopher Colclough. Foreword, 9-9

Michael Crossley. Series Editor's Preface. International Partnerships and Capacity Building in Higher Education, 13-14

David Stephens Introduction and Overview. Twenty-Five Years of Higher Education and International Capacity-Building Partnerships, 15-31

Kenneth King Higher Education and International Cooperation: the role of academic collaboration in the developing world, 33-49

Sally M. Thomas, Wen-Jung Peng Enhancing Quality and Capacity for Educational Research, 51-77

Hazel Slavin Improving Health and Social Well-Being, 79-94

Adam Pain Economic Development and Sustainable Livelihoods, 95-114

Jack Rieley Conserving the Natural Environment in Tropical South-East Asia, 115-137

Gaby Weiner More Difficult Times Ahead? The Impact of Patriarchy and Globalisation on Gender In/Equality in Higher Education, 139-164

Lynn Davies The Place of Higher Education in Improving Human Rights and Governance, 165-183

Maria Fe Villamejor-Mendoza Influencing Public Policy, 185-207

Alan Hunter The Emergence of Peace Studies in Chinese Higher Education, 209-229

Christopher Colclough. Foreword

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Michael Crossley. Series Editor's Preface. International Partnerships and Capacity Building in Higher Education

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Introduction and Overview. Twenty-Five Years of Higher Education and International Capacity-Building Partnerships
David Stephens

This chapter is divided into three parts. The first part outlines the issues and trends in global higher education. There are six: first, the massive increase in demand for higher education; second, the real decline in public expenditure on higher education; third, the increase in cost recovery measures; fourth the introduction of student loans creating both a solution and a problem for the expansion of higher education; fifth, the mantra of privatisation and its impact upon higher education; and six, the purpose of internationalisation in the growth of the higher education sector. The second part briefly describes and analyses the British Council’s Higher Education Links Programme, providing an overview of the past 25 years, its aims and objectives, nature of the links, and how the Programme was managed, funded and evaluated. Particular reference is made to an external and independent evaluation of the Programme carried out in 2003.The third part presents an overview of the book and the selected themes and focus of each chapter.

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Higher Education and International Cooperation: the role of academic collaboration in the developing world
Kenneth King

This chapter puts higher education links into their historical context, and analyses the ways that the higher education sub-sector has been affected by shifts in the aid priorities of key agencies. These shifts have not been universal across the agencies or at the country level, but they appear to have had much more impact in Sub-Saharan Africa than elsewhere. The particular character of the crisis in the African university is analysed through key texts such as the Commission for Africa, as well as through analysis of the consultancy culture which now dominates a good deal of university life and income. It is into this institutional crisis in the African university that the recent Links scheme of the United Kingdom is being implemented. It is argued that its assumptions are somewhat at variance with the extent and seriousness of this long-standing crisis. But overall, it is suggested that much more evidence should be available than at present on a whole series of crucial indicators of university development in Africa. Studies that captured the sheer diversity of the teaching and learning cultures of African universities would make a real difference to understanding the context in which these link projects are expected to deliver their expected outcomes.

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Enhancing Quality and Capacity for Educational Research
Sally M. Thomas, Wen-Jung Peng

This chapter examines how developing countries are meeting the challenge to build capacity in higher education as well as how United Kingdom institutions are assisting in meeting these challenges via academic links and development projects. The underlying needs for higher education capacity building in developing country contexts are explored and in particular the chapter focuses on research capacity building in the area of education. As a practical example the chapter provides a case study of the activities and outcomes from a pilot research project carried out in China as part of the British Council/Department for International Development (BC/DfID) funded academic link between the Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol and China National Institute for Educational Research, Beijing. The link focused specifically on innovation in school evaluation and strategies to improve the quality of schooling. Drawing on lessons learnt from BC/DfID funded links as well as other evidence, five challenges to building capacity in teaching, research, and community development work are outlined. Finally, the chapter concludes with some future perspectives on higher education capacity building.

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Improving Health and Social Well-Being
Hazel Slavin

This chapter reviews the British Council link programmes related to health and well-being against a background of rising discrepancies in health indicators between the richest and poorest nations and against the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with targets set for 2015. The chapter shows that while the Higher Education Links programme has successfully met the goals it set for each programme its influence will be limited when basic issues such as lack of political will and where spending on health and education remain low priorities.

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Economic Development and Sustainable Livelihoods
Adam Pain

The British Council Links scheme implemented over 25 years has spanned a dynamic and shifting trajectory of theory, practice and change in rural development. Rural development has to be understood both in terms of the technology and processes that are assumed to drive rural change and understanding the actual nature of rural change and its impacts on livelihoods. The British Council scheme, implemented through short-term projects with limited funding, has largely focused on capacity building in relation to the former but has often made large and unjustified assumptions on the effect of this on rural change in general. There has been much less attention in the scheme to capacity building for critical understanding of the nature of rural change that might challenge the normative models that have driven rural development. There have also been severe limits to building effective monitoring systems that demonstrate long-term capacity change at individual and institutional levels.

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Conserving the Natural Environment in Tropical South-East Asia
Jack Rieley

This chapter presents an account of 20 years of field research in South-East Asia, pump-primed and supported by British Council higher education (HE) travel grants and links. This started whilst on study leave in 1987 when the author visited Malaysia, Indonesia and Japan, as a result of which several partnerships were forged. The British Council provided funding not only for specific HE link projects on ‘Sustainable Management of Tropical Ecosystems’ but also made spaces available in its English Language Teaching Centre for staff of the University of Palangka Raya, Indonesia to improve their English prior to studying for postgraduate degrees at the University of Nottingham. The course and fate of several HE links between Nottingham University and universities in Indonesia, Japan and Malaysia are described. These relationships provided a platform on which to obtain much larger amounts of research funding from the European Union. The disappointments and successes of these activities are outlined and accounts given of how they were affected by unforeseen events. The role of the British Council in creating and maintaining research partnerships and promoting conservation and sustainable management of the natural environment in South-East Asia by developing human resources and institutional capacity is assessed.

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More Difficult Times Ahead? The Impact of Patriarchy and Globalisation on Gender In/Equality in Higher Education
Gaby Weiner

This chapter explores the higher education sector’s possibilities and its limitations, structurally and culturally, for encouraging transformation in gender relations. It draws on a systematic trawl of the literature, particularly in the journals Gender and Education and Race, Ethnicity and Education plus a range of development publications. It first considers higher education trends and patterns and the struggles involved in challenging gender and other forms of inequality and in particular, the patriarchal nature of higher education institutions and the struggle of Women’s Studies to sustain its place in the university. This discussion is followed by a presentation of theoretical frameworks for gender that have been pioneered mainly in development work, and then by exemplars of higher education links, projects and initiatives involving raising public awareness, knowledge production, course provision, university governance, pedagogy and networking. The chapter concludes with a discussion about North–South implications of such interventions, and the possibilities for making teaching and studying in higher education at a global level a more equitable process. A key argument is that the expansion of higher education, and the parallel entrenchment of the Western (Humboldtian) university model across the world, has meant that Western university practices have gone global, including the adoption of structures and practices oppressive to women.

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The Place of Higher Education in Improving Human Rights and Governance
Lynn Davies

Higher education’s role in promoting human rights and ‘good governance’ is a controversial one, especially when it concerns apparent attempts to pressure states into greater democracy. Yet higher education (HE) can be important in training and dialogue. The chapter examines the various departmental sites for human rights and governance learning within HE institutions, and the challenges of sustained interdisciplinary work. The aims and outcomes of various HE links fall into two broad categories, capacity building and influence, in turn either direct or indirect in their approach. Initiatives in seven areas are described: course development, outreach work, influence on policy, impact on professional practice, research studies, drawing in new partners and personal learning. Issues in the impact of links relate to the potential for imperialism, the timing of a link in relation to a country’s political situation, and the problem of demonstrating balance in impact on both partners. Finally the chapter examines current trends which affect HE and such links: the press for internationalisation of HE and for the inclusion of ethical issues, issues around citizenship and rights, polarisation of wealth, managerialism, academic freedom and the shifts to markets, ‘liberalisation’ and privatisation of HE which may impact adversely on gender and other equity.

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Influencing Public Policy
Maria Fe Villamejor-Mendoza

Despite being fully aware that influencing public policy is a long and tedious process, the University of the Philippines (UP) and the University of Manchester (UM) embarked on a higher education link on The Social Impact of Administrative Reforms, 2000-2006. The link evolved into a major resource for policy recommendations, knowledge sharing and multi-stakeholder consultative dialogues on such areas as privatisation and new public management, regulation and competition, combating corruption and rebuilding trust, electoral reform and democracy audit, and access of the poor to basic services such as water, power and telecommunications. It has strengthened the strategic partnership between these two leading academic institutions in the Philippines and the United Kingdom. It has also enhanced the policy research and other capabilities of both universities. Its activities have fed into the discourse of governance and development and into the agenda of policy change in the Philippines. It was a wise investment for development.

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The Emergence of Peace Studies in Chinese Higher Education
Alan Hunter

This chapter focuses on three main issues: the relevance of peace studies to the new super-power, China; the changing roles of the higher education sector there; and academic links between the United Kingdom and China, viewed through the specific case study of a higher education links programme which brought together Coventry and Nanjing universities. A theme running throughout is an exploration of the limits to intellectual flexibility in Chinese academia. Can the system now tolerate discussion even of controversial topics like pacifism and non-violent protest, which appear to directly challenge important state values such as the right to self-defence? The chapter argues that universities have largely outgrown the dogmatism of earlier generations. Moreover, China itself has a rich heritage of pro-peace thought, and Chinese leaders appear to be committed to non-violent resolution of conflicts wherever possible. It would be desirable if Western ones were to follow their lead.

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Lynn Davies is Professor of International Education in the Centre for International Education and Research at the University of Birmingham. Lynn’s key interests in teaching, research and consultancy are within education and governance, specifically in the areas of conflict, democracy, rights, citizenship and equity. Lynn has produced resources for the British Council on human rights education and citizenship education and has contributed to British Council International Seminars on these areas. She has chaired the British Council Gender and Development Task Force, which managed the higher education links in this area. Recent research projects include work on education in emergencies in South Asia and on education in post-conflict Angola, as well as continuing work in global citizenship and youth voice. Her book on Education and Conflict won the best book of the year award from the Society of Education Studies, and her most recent book is Educating against Extremism (2008).

Alan Hunter is Associate Director of the Centre for Peace and Reconciliation Studies and also of a newly formed Applied Research Centre in Human Security, both at Coventry University. He previously worked for human rights and refugee organisations, and was Senior Lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of Leeds (1989-98). Alan’s experience in Asia includes work in South India, Hong Kong, Singapore and particularly the People’s Republic of China, where he has projects with Fudan, Nanjing and Zhejiang universities. Alan has authored numerous papers and books including (with Chan Kim-Kwong) Protestantism in Contemporary China (Cambridge UP, 1993); (with Gregor Benton) Wild Lily Prairie Fire (Princeton UP, 1995); (with John Sexton) Contemporary China (Macmillan, 1999); and Peace Studies in the Chinese Century (Ashgate, 2006). From 2001, Alan has managed a link programme with Nanjing University to introduce Peace Studies as a discipline to Chinese academia. This fruitful collaboration encompassed staff and student exchange, publications and an international peace studies conference hosted in Nanjing, the first of its kind in China.

Kenneth King is an Emeritus Professor in the School of Education and in the School of Social and Political Studies at the University of Edinburgh. He has analysed aid policies in education and training over several decades. He has paid particular attention to academic research cooperation, both as an academic and during his time as head of education research in the Canadian International Development Research Centre. He has very recently spent a year as Distinguished Visiting Professor in the University of Hong Kong. His current research is concerned with two areas: the positioning of skills in the international education architecture; and the changing role of China’s aid to education and training in Africa.

Adam Pain is a Visiting Professor (Rural Development South) in the Department of Urban and Rural Development at the Swedish Life Sciences University (SLU), Uppsala and a Senior Research Fellow at the School of Development Studies, University of East Anglia, UK, where he was a faculty member between 1976 and 1987. Between 1987 and 1991 he was the team leader on a South African Development Coordination Conference-funded regional research programme based in Botswana. From 1992-2000 he worked in Bhutan as an adviser to the Ministry of Agriculture. Adam has been working in Afghanistan since February 2001 with the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU) on livelihood change and natural resource management issues. He is currently a co-principal investigator on a joint East Anglia–AREU Economic and Social Research Council research grant on poverty changes in Afghanistan. With SLU he has contributed to the development and teaching of a Masters Programme in Rural Development at SLU and at Hue Agricultural University, Vietnam.

Wen-Jung Peng is a researcher at the Graduate School of Education in the University of Bristol. Her research activities are mainly located in various aspects of school effectiveness in different cultural contexts. She has recently, as co-applicant (with Sally M. Thomas), been awarded a 2-year Economic and Research Council/Department for International Development funded project – Improving Educational Evaluation and Quality in China, which is scheduled to commence in May 2008. Her other research interests include motivation of physical activity, service science in management and educational research methods.

Jack Rieley is Special Professor of Geography at the University of Nottingham, UK and has been carrying out research on tropical peatlands in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia since 1993. His first few visits to Indonesia were funded through British Council travel grants and then a 4-year link project. Jack is Co-director of the Kalimantan Tropical Peat Swamp Forest Research Project that has been studying the biodiversity, natural resource functions and sustainable management of tropical peatlands for 13 years. He has had lead roles in a Darwin Initiative and four EU-funded projects on biodiversity, natural resource functions, restoration and sustainable wise use of tropical peatlands. He has published more than 100 papers, book chapters and conference proceedings on these topics and has made presentations at many national, regional and international conferences, symposia and workshops. He is co-author of a paper published in Nature in November 2002 on the ‘Amount of Carbon Released from Forest and Peatland in the 1997 Fires in Indonesia’. Through the various projects in which he has been involved 16 Indonesians and Malaysians have obtained Masters and doctoral degrees.

Hazel Slavin is a Health Promotion and Communications Consultant with particular expertise in sexual and reproductive health and HIV/AIDS. She has an MSc in Health Education, an MA in Social Anthropology and two postgraduate diplomas in Education and in Human Sexuality. She was Principal Lecturer in Health Promotion at South Bank University, London for 14 years and has extensive experience of curriculum development and teaching and training using participatory methods. Hazel has worked on long-term Department for International Development (DfID) projects in Georgia, India, Russia and Pakistan as well as working in Bangladesh, Botswana, Cambodia, China, Georgia, Ghana, Jamaica, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Malawi, Nepal, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Yemen, Vietnam and Zimbabwe. She has lectured and run seminars in Latvia, Russia and Hong Kong. She has recently edited a manual on planning and evaluating programmes for young people for the World Health Organization (WHO) and worked on an innovative project for BBC World Service Training in India, training radio and television producers to make sex education programmes. She has worked for DfID, United Nations Population Fund, British Council, Family Health International, Ford Foundation, Save the Children, WHO, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

David Stephens is Professor of International Education in the Education Research Centre at the University of Brighton. For the past 25 years David has lectured and researched in Europe and the Developing World. He has held senior positions at the universities of London (1982-87), Sussex (1987-98) and as Professor of International Education at Oslo University College (1999-2004). He has worked as a teacher and researcher in a number of international contexts: Sierra Leone (1973-75), Nigeria (1978-80), Kenya (1980s), Indonesia (1980s), and in Ghana as UK Department for International Development’s Education Adviser (1994-96). He has also directed major funded research projects, such as 1996-99 Multi-Site Teacher Education Research Project (MUSTER), Sussex; 2000-04 Schooling and Cultural Values in Africa Project, Oslo; and has advised a number of professional organisations, for example the Child-to-Child Trust, UK. His most recent book is Culture in Education and Development: Principles, Practice and Policy (Symposium Books, 2007).

Sally Thomas is Reader in Education at the Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol. Until December 2000 she was an Associate Director and founding member of the International School Effectiveness and Improvement Centre at the London Institute of Education. Her main publications are on the topic of school effectiveness and school improvement. In particular she has carried out extensive research studies on ‘value-added’ and other measures to evaluate different aspects of educational and school quality in a range of countries. She has also examined these measures for different, or overlapping, purposes including: school improvement, school evaluation and self-evaluation, international indicators and academic knowledge-based research. Sally has been the UK partner in several British Council-funded academic links with the China National Institute for Educational Research (CNIER), Beijing. In collaboration with CNIER she is currently directing an Economic and Social Research Council/Department for International Development funded project, ‘Improving Educational Evaluation and Quality in China’. Publications include a co-authored book Educational Evaluation and Monitoring: A Systemic Approach (Swets, 2003).

Maria Fe Villamejor-Mendoza is an Associate Professor of Public Administration and Public Policy at the National College of Public Administration and Governance, University of the Philippines (UP). Maria has a doctorate in Public Administration from UP; a Masters in Development Studies (Public Policy and Administration) from the Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, the Netherlands; and another Masters in Demography from UP. She has also a postgraduate certificate in Public Enterprise Reform and Privatization from the University of Manchester.

Gaby Weiner is currently Honorary Professor in the Centre for Educational Sociology at Edinburgh University, her previous posts including Professor of Teacher Education and Research at Umeå University in Sweden (1998-2005) and Professor of Educational Research (1992-1998) at South Bank University, London. Gaby has written and edited a number of publications on social justice, gender, race and ethnicity including: Feminisms in Education (1994); Equal Opportunities in Colleges and Universities (1995, with M. Farish, J. McPake & J. Powney); Closing the Gender Gap: Postwar Educational and Social Change (1999, with M. Arnot & M. David), and most recently Kids in Cyberspace: Teaching Antiracism Using the Internet in Britain, Spain and Sweden (2005, with C. Gaine). She has also been responsible for two book series: Gender and Education (with R. Deem) and Feminist Educational Thinking (with L. Yates & K. Weiler). She is currently completing a book on the uses of auto/biography in educational research.

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