The global growth of the private education sector
Discussing the rise and popularity of the private education sector with Shai Reshef from the University of the People and Helen Bührs of the Inscape Education Group.
Global education is predominately divided into two types of setups, the public (government) and the private. What are the keys for the two to co-exist to provide an education system that actually is progressive instead of competitive?
Shai Reshef: According to UNESCO estimates, by 2025 almost 100 million students will be deprived seats in the existing universities. Many governments, especially those in developing countries, simply do not have the resources necessary to build universities and provide access to higher education for their population. In order for countries to enjoy the benefits of an educated population, and for the right of education for all to be realized, governments and private institutions will need to cooperate. UoPeople has built a tuition-free online higher education model which is both scalable and replicable. Private institutions and governments alike are able to replicate the model to provide low-cost higher education to all students.
Helen Louise Bührs
Helen Bührs: The number of students requiring higher education and the demands on the higher education sector both private and public are only going to increase.
Private higher Education in the past focussed on undergraduate qualifications, certificates and diplomas and the sector was made up of a number of smaller institutions. Many of the smaller institutions have been consolidated to form larger private institutions that now offer postgraduate programmes too. South Africa as an example of a developing first world country proves that a balance between private and public providers needs to remain to ensure that young students receive a quality education. It is necessary for public institutions to address resource shortages and for private institutions to address accessibility.
Are the public and private sectors using technology to its best capacity in terms of the global education system becoming more open?
Shai Reshef: Technology, and the internet culture of sharing, are an integral part of the solution to providing access to higher education worldwide. Technology has allowed education to become cheaper to deliver, and cheaper to develop. Open Education Resources and Open Source Technology draws on the technological ability, as well as the culture of global sharing, to provide a low-cost way to develop and deliver courses. Public and Private sectors can, and should, work with one another to ensure that the existing, freely available resources are combined to provide affordable access to higher education for all.
Private institutions are known to be more expensive in terms of fee structuring – does this mean the education offering is better or is everything relative to an individual students input?
Helen Bührs: Private institutions rely heavily on their student numbers as well as fees being paid to remain operational. The focus for each sector is probably quite different, for privates, employ-ability of graduates is more important whereas for publics, research output takes preference. Meaning that fee structuring can almost be seen as a relative positioning to the outcome of the student’s studies. Whilst better resources, facilities, up to date technology and software - will of course aid in supporting a students learning. I often find that the tuition fees is not the expense that cripples students. It is the additional costs like living expenses, transport, textbooks, consumables that make it difficult for young people to realize their dreams, at both private and public institutions.
At the end of the day - students are the individuals that have to make a choice between these sectors. What advice would you suggest regarding their choices?
Shai Reshef: Students need to ensure that the education they are getting is of high academic quality and provides the forum to develop their minds and themselves, often beyond the syllabi and virtual/physical classrooms. Higher education is the key to opening the doors to a better future. Students must choose a path of higher education that opens doors for them, be it through the public or private sector.
About: Shai Reshef tweets here @shaireshef - visit the University of the People. Helen Bührs tweets here @hbuhrs - find out more about the Inscape Education Group.