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Higher Education and Global Public Goods. Richard Hopper The World Bank UNESCO conference on International Quality Assurance: Globalization and Higher Education October 17-18, 2002 Paris, France. What is a public good?. Non-excludable No one can be barred from benefits

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Higher education and global public goods l.jpg

Higher Education and Global Public Goods

Richard Hopper

The World Bank

UNESCO conference on International Quality Assurance: Globalization and Higher Education

October 17-18, 2002

Paris, France


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What is a public good?

  • Non-excludable

    • No one can be barred from benefits

    • No single purchaser

  • Non-rival

    • Can be consumed without depletion


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Externalities produced by higher education

  • Externalities are the difference between public and private benefits

  • Higher education produces significant externalities

  • In higher education, externalities are not often pure public goods

    • Yet are expressed as combinations and levels of the attributes of public goods


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Externalities of higher education: hard to capture

  • Benefits of higher education tend to be diffuse

    • Employers and society benefit from an educated workforce, educated civil society, and educated populace

    • Producers of goods and services also benefit from educated consumers


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Free rider” problem

  • Benefits of higher education cannot be limited to the individuals who successfully complete it

  • Markets tend to underproduce public goods, so the public sector has role

  • “Free rider” problem in higher education is complicated by international reach of the benefits


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Global public goods reach across borders, generations

  • Human capital circulation

    • Free and efficient flow of skills

      • Benefits to firms, individuals, societies

    • Yet, brain drain concerns remain

      • Loss of high-level human capital, loss of public investment, and loss of local social/civil benefits

  • Information & knowledge circulation

  • Public health benefits

  • Environmental and cultural heritage

  • Peace and security

  • Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)


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Public vs. private / National vs. international

  • Financing

    • How is the cost burden of higher education to be shared among individuals, society, and employers?

  • Provision

    • Who will provide higher education?

  • Quality

    • Who will ensure quality and how?


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Global challenges growing

  • Interdependence and uncertainty

    • underscore the importance of the global public goods produced by higher education

  • Higher education provision

    • New forms

    • New providers

    • Increasingly international, borderless


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Enabling framework needed

  • To promote knowledge societies

  • To deal with challenges and public goods

    • Brain drain

    • Quality assurance

    • Qualifications recognition

    • Foreign provision

    • Intellectual property rights

    • ICT access and affordability

    • Basic education for all (EFA)


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Public policy options

  • National policies are key

    • Gov’ts often struggle to develop such policies

      • We need only look to issues like HIV, GM foods, etc.

  • Yet, global challenges require new approaches and frank debate

    • New actors & mechanisms

      • Civil society

      • Private sector

    • International cooperation

    • Cross-sectoral linkages


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Crisis prevention vs. coherent policy framework

  • Many countries tend to be reactive

    • Lack of national policy debate and framework for higher education lead countries to react to problems

  • Countries should strive for…

    • Flexible lifelong learning frameworks

    • Coherence, articulation, recognition

    • Dev’t of quality measures that satisfy local needs


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Public vs. private

  • Not a simple distinction

    • No correlation with quality

  • Nuance important, yet hard to generalize

    • Public traditional

      • Fee-based and free

    • Private for-profit

      • Common in developing countries; emerging in US

    • Private nonprofit

      • Common in US; often religious-based elsewhere

      • Lack of meaningful nonprofit laws seem to prevent great growth

    • Public for-profit

      • Growing trend, particularly in international offerings


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Equity and access remain key issues

  • Access costly

    • Benefits accrue primarily to those who can afford higher education

  • Yet, increasing access…

    • Spreads benefits to society

    • Ultimately lowers cost of those benefits

  • Lifelong learning frames promote equity

    • …through modularity, articulation, and recognition

      • Quality assurance coordination can help to promote the modularity, articulation, recognition needed for lifelong learning