Higher education hubs could become ‘enclaves of privilege’

Higher education hubs, and particularly those in poorer developing countries in Africa that are set up to attract foreign institutions and international students, could have unforeseen economic and social impacts on surrounding areas, the Worldviews conference heard.

In particular, international higher education hubs risked becoming privileged enclaves rather than contributing to economic and regional development in the host country, and could draw resources away from local public universities, to the detriment of the host’s higher education system.

Speaking at the Worldviews 2013: Global trends in media and higher education conference in Toronto, Omotade ‘Tade’ Akin Aina said hubs populated by international branch campuses could “add to the perception of social inequality”.

Aina is programme director for higher education and libraries in Africa, for the Carnegie Corporation of New York, which was one of the conference’s major sponsors.

He said a university hub, creating the policy, political and cultural environment, including improving public safety and security to build confidence so that people would come, also raised questions of unequal regional development.

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