Educació superior i mercat: un oximoron?

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En un article titulat Grandes écoles, grand designs: France told to think global, el Times Higher Education exposa que les Grandes Écoles franceses s’estan plantejant atrature estudiants estrangeres, sobretot xinesos, tot cobrant una elevada matrícula. Això comporta que les classes s’hagin de fer en anglès, tot obrint una forta discussió sobre la llengua, ja que a França, en general, la docència s’ha de fer en francès, amb una forta política protectora de la llengua.

Pierre Tapie’s proposal sounds like a call to arms. The president of the Conférence des Grandes Écoles has urged France’s universities to embrace globalisation and tap into the rapidly growing and increasingly mobile student populations of India and China.

In a recent editorial in the daily newspaper Le Monde, Dr Tapie advocates trebling the number of foreign students in French higher education, boosting the proportion from 12 per cent of the total number of students to 30 per cent in the next 10 years.

His plans would see students from outside the European Union charged fees close to £12,000. A system of scholarships would be introduced for outstanding students who could not afford to pay their way.

En un altre article del THE, Producers, not consumers, s’hi presenta una visió més academicista que l’actualment imperant al sistema britànic. Tenint en compte

the inconvenient truth that a perfect market in university education is basically an oxymoron

i es proposa

to view students not as passive consumers but as potential knowledge producers. This conception lies at the heart of Student as Producer, a Higher Education Academy-funded project that has seen research-engaged teaching adopted throughout the University of Lincoln.

Student as Producer – echoes with Walter Benjamin’s famous 1934 essay “The Author as Producer” are intentional – aims to recombine research and teaching within the university. At Lincoln, undergraduate students work alongside staff in the design and delivery of their teaching and in the production of academic work. Bursaries of £1,000 are available for them to participate in fully fledged research projects during the summer, not as cheap intellectual labour but as co-creators of knowledge.

As Mike Neary, dean of teaching and learning at Lincoln and one of the driving forces behind the scheme, explains: “We are intellectualising the process of research and learning. It’s about recovering the idea of the university.”

Ja té gràcia que es parli de “redescobrir la idea d’universitat”. En el fons, el debat és entre la universitat com a preparadora de persones per al món professional (i per tant que són ocupables en tenir el grau) o com a preparadora genèrica d’habilitats intel.lectuals, que demana un pas addicional per a l’entrada a una professió (màster, estada a l’empresa, etc.). De fet, aquestes visions coexisteixen de fet a les nostres universitats des de fa temps. I tampoc no passa pas res.

Em pregunto, però, si els estudiants estrangers que es matriculina a les Grandes Ècoles ho faran per dur a terme una elevada activitat intel.lectual, o bé per obtenir una excel.lent preparació que els faciliti l’entrada directa al món professional a casa seva.

Potser el que passarà és que les universitats s’especialitzaran en un tipus de formació, o que hi coexistiran. Però si cada universitat ha de fer-se una marca i una reputació, ha de deixar ben clar als estudiants estrangers què en poden esperar.