A new threat for our universities?

From Daniel Lemire is this news from the Guardian (is it news to our academic institutions?) that China is looking at becoming an exporter of degrees, attracting students to study in China where it will be cheaper than here. Today, many Western universities are exporters of degrees to Asian students. One strategy of traditional universities is to create online degree programs. Daniel makes a couple of conclusions about this tactic:

However, before online degrees become a distinct exportable good, you need to have your local students freely choosing the web instead of the classroom. Asians are not going to buy degrees your local population doesn’t value dearly.
I really think China can reverse its status as far as education goes, and by doing so, hurt badly Western Universities in the long run. I don’t think online degrees are going to be a viable escape for Western Universities. If China goes ahead with its plans to become an education provider, it will hurt, no matter what!

I’m sure that there will be a growing demand for online degrees, it’s just that a cheaper alternative may make for a more competitive marketplace.

As if changing demographics weren’t enough of a challenge, now it seems that China will be taking some of the international students that our universities are starting to depend upon for sustainable revenue. The world is flattening and direct competitors are now half way around the world. I wonder if our boys will go to university in China and learn Mandarin at the same time.

One Response to “A new threat for our universities?”

  1. degree tips

    Very interesting article.

    I work at a University which takes a lot of chinese students.

    They will soon be opening facilities in China to reduce the cost.

    No doubt this will involve traing Chinese staff to deliver degree courses.

    They will also use a Virtual Learning environment (moodle.org) which is open source.

    It would, as you say be very easy for the Chinese to use such software to sell degree courses back into western countries… once they have developed the expertise.


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