We often see news about income inequality – even this week, there was a new infographic about the huge disparities between rich and poor in the United States. The same holds true for the world of international education.
- Global North vs. Global South.
- Within Countries and Regions
My first consulting visit in Brazil was to an international office in a public university in the Northeast. To get to the office, one walked down a corridor and to the very back of the building, and into an office the size of a large closet. There was no staff other than the Director, a part-time professor. Compare this to a suite of offices at another public university in the same region or in the wealthier Southeast of the country, with several staff persons.
Resource inequality is real – and it leads to opportunities to go to conferences to learn about the field and current trends, among other benefits. Keeping up with the field translates to more opportunities, fueled by discussions and meetings with colleagues. And so the gap becomes wider. Fewer resources also mean that internationalization strategies are limited and that students are less able to develop global competence. It is for these reasons that I do pro-bono consulting for under-resourced Brazilian institutions.
Of course, these kinds of disparities aren’t limited to Brazil. US American community colleges struggle for resources at the same time that elite private schools have endowments in the billions of dollars – just the interest on their investments yields returns that exceed the entire budgets of many schools (not to mention small countries).
My question: how do we support those institutions that are far behind? How do we help them create internationalized curricula and foster the development of global competencies among their students?