Consider this opening paragraph to an article in University World News early this year:

Many Asian countries have been setting ambitious goals to expand and improve their higher education sectors to respond to their growing aspirational middle class and as a result are on the way to catching up with and even overtaking the best higher education systems of the West.

Indeed, the Institute of International Education’s latest report on global education research entitled “Asia: The next higher education superpower?” finds that the total number of universities and tertiary graduates in Asia outnumber those in North America and Europe.

From the viewpoint of many Western policymakers and media elite, the rise of Asia in terms of education is understood both as an opportunity and source of anxiety. On the one hand, countries such as Australia view the rise of Asia as an opportunity to expand trade, increase student mobility, and grow research collaborations. On the other hand, as Asia becomes a dominate global education player, some Western governments — and universities — fear they will loose out to their Asian counterparts.

How do we understand these mixed feelings?

The guest on this show of FreshEd is Fazal RizviProfessor in Education at the University of Melbourne. He has a forthcoming book chapter in the Handbook of Global Education Policy, which will be published by Blackwell press in 2016, that uses a post-colonial analysis to understand Western discourses on the rise of Asia. Within these discourses, Rizvi finds an “us” versus “them” dichotomy that he connects to colonialism. The rise of Asia from this perspective “invokes conceptions of the Asian ‘others’ whose cultures must be understood, whose languages must be learnt, and with whom closer relationships must be developed – in order for us [the West] to realize our economic and strategic purposes” (Rizvi, 2013).

In the last few decades, higher education in Asia has seen rapid expansion of enrolment rates, institutional growth and change, an internationalization drive, and knowledge outputs that are comparable to many western universities. Nevertheless, the topic of Asian Higher education remains mostly understudied. The same can be said of Asian higher education research and its communities, which continue to be underrepresented in the international higher education literature.

My guest today, Hugo Horta, is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Hong Kong. He has recently co-edited a special issue of the journal Higher Education Policy on higher education research in East Asia. Together with Jisun Jung and Akiyoshi Yonezawa, Hugo Horta’s special issue presents an understanding of the evolution of higher education research communities in China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. The country level studies distill the unique organization and evolution of national higher education research communities offering a window into the common and dissimilar challenges each country faces in constructing a higher education research community.

Policy borrowing is a major topic in field of comparative education. On the surface the idea is relatively simple: one group of policy makers borrow the ideas of other policy makers to improve a system of education. This usually is described as borrowing “best practices.” But the work of many comparative education researchers has shown that who borrows what policy and for what reason is much more complex. We cannot, as Michael Sadler warned in 1900, assume a picked flower in one part of the world will blossom in soil at home.

Routledge book coverMy guest today, Rattanna Lao, dives head first into the debates on policy borrowing in her new book, A Critical Study of Thailand’s Higher Education Reforms: The Culture of Borrowing, which was published earlier this year by Routledge.

She argues that although the Thai state has always been an active borrower of western ideas, the perseverance of a ‘Thai-ness’ discourse has often been used to suggest its so-called independence and idiosyncrasy.

Rattana Lao received a doctorate in Comparative and International Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and is currently a lecturer at Pridi Banomyong International College, Thammasat University in Thailand.

In many parts of the world, students commonly attend and pay for private tutoring classes. Sometimes these extra classes are for remedial purposes, giving students additional help on content covered in mainstream school. Other times students use private tutoring to prepare for school examinations.

The phenomenon of private tutoring is diverse around the world, and researchers commonly use the term “Shadow Education” to describe it. Tutoring is considered a shadow because it often mimics the curriculum of regular schooling – as the content of the curriculum changes in regular schooling, so it changes in the shadow; and as the regular school system expands or contracts, so does the shadow system

On today’s show, Will Brehm speaks with Mark Bray,  UNESCO Chair Professor in Comparative Education at the University of Hong Kong, and Director of its Comparative Education Research Centre. He is also President-Elect of the US-based Comparative & International Education Society (CIES). He moved to Hong Kong in1986, but from 2006 to 2010 took leave to work in Paris as Director of UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning.

CERC 32.Researching PST.coverProfessor Bray has written extensively on shadow education. His latest book, co-edited with Ora Kwo and Boris Jokić, is entitled Researching private supplementary tutoring: methodological lessons from diverse cultures.

Mark Bray speaks about researching shadow education and then turns to the annual conference of CIES, which he is currently planning.

Today’s topic is space in educational research.

My guest is Marianne Larsen, an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Education, University of Western Ontario. Dr. Larsen’s recent research focuses on the overall processes and effects of the internationalization of higher education. She has been researching how internationalization policies are taken up ‘on-the-ground’, as well as the role of higher education leaders in advancing internationalization agendas.

Her most recent book, Internationalizing Higher Education: An Analysis through Spatial, Mobility and Network Theories builds upon her work to advance the use of new spatial and mobilities theories in comparative education research.

I spoke with Dr. Larsen in 2016 about how she and her colleague Jason Beech theorize the concept of educational space not as an object of study but as a set of relations between individuals and groups. Their articles on new spatial thinking can be found in the 2014 Spring issue of European Education and the May 2014 issue of Comparative Education Review.

[Updated and re-aired on July 30, 2018. Originally aired on July 21, 2016]

On November 17, the Globalization and Education SIG hosted a webinar on educational privatization. The event was moderated by D. Brent Edwards Jr. and brought together three speakers: Christopher Lubienski (University of Illinois), Frank Adamson (Stanford University) and Tamasin Cave (SpinWatch). The hour-long webinar can be viewed here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1-QEtL6iA0

In many Caribbean countries, students are taught to be so-called “ideal Caribbean persons.” This phenomenon is of interest to some educational researchers because this discourse defines a Caribbean person instead of, say, a Jamaican person or a Haitian person. What this suggests is that a regional social imaginary has usurped the long held need by state governments to cultivate a national imaginary through public schools.

So why has there been an increasing emphasis on regional level collaboration and reform initiatives in education that have resulted in or attempt to build regional social imaginaries?
My guest today, Dr. Tavis Jules, an Assistant Professor of Cultural and Educational Policy Studies at Loyola University Chicago, argues that the the rise of the Caribbean educational policy space was driven by various regulations constructed by supranational organizations and institutions and then implemented at the national level. He studied this convergence by comparing the discourse in policy documents at the regional and national level.

Tavis’ most recent book, Neither world polity nor local or national societies: Regionalization in the Global South – the Caribbean Communitywas published by Peter Lang Press in 2012. Tavis speaks on FreshEd about his latest article on the Caribbean Educational Policy Space, which was published in the November issue of the Comparative Education Review.

Lobbyists are paid to influence government officials. They often operate behind closed doors, hidden from public view. In the education sector, for-profit companies rely on the work of lobbyists to promote commercial interests in public policy, from privately operated public schools to the use of education technology inside classrooms.

Our guest in this episode, author, lobbyist, and activist, Tamasin Cave, shines a light on commercial lobbyists in Britain’s education sector. A director of SpinWatch and leader of the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency, Cave talks about her book, co-authored with Andy Rowell, entitled: A Quiet Word: Lobbying, Crony Capitalism and Broken Politics in Britain, which was published in 2014 by Random House.

Cave reveals the techniques used by successful lobbyists and discusses the revolving door among government officials, commercial lobbyists, and media elite. She calls for transparency in lobbying and reveals how she thinks like a lobbyist.

How did vouchers and charter schools become key elements in the education reform agenda in the United States?

My guest today, Professor of Education Policy at the University of Illinois, Chris Lubienski, speaks about the rise of policy orchestration among a network of private and non-profit actors and what this means for democratic decision making.

His research shows how Philanthropic Foundations, such as the Gates and Walton Family Foundations, and think tanks, such as the Brookings Institute and RAND corporation, have come to promote a common agenda that has helped propel vouchers and charters into the national spotlight.

Professor Lubienski explores the changing structures of educational policy making in the United States, and argues that the contracting out of policy making to actors such as Gates, Brookings, and RAND has resulted in the privatization of public policy making.

You can follow Prof. Lubienski on twitter: @Club_edu and read his article on policy orchestration.

Citation: Lubienski, Chris, interview with Will Brehm, FreshEd, 2, podcast audio, July 20, 2016. https://www.freshedpodcast.com/chrislubienski/

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In our inaugural showFrank Adamson, Senior Policy and Research Analyst at the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education, discusses his new book, Global Educational Reform: How Privatization and Public Investment influence Education Outcomes (Routledge, 2016), which he co-edited with Bjorn Astrand and Linda Darling-Hammond.

Frank's new book cover

Global Educational Reform offers a comparative look at the education policies and outcomes in six countries – Chile, Cube, Sweden, Finland, Canada, and the United States.  Frank and his co-editors selected these countries because collectively they span a range of education policy approaches – from neoliberal approaches that emphasize school vouchers to social democratic approaches that emphasize government’s responsibility for education.