With global crises, changes to geopolitical relationships and the opportunities brought by new technology, we’re at an interesting crossroads for research. Higher education is finding it needs to alter its practices around global research projects to maintain both funding and research success.
Here’s why the world needs a review of research in education.
- Global Crises and Research Collaboration
- Geopolitical and Economic Issues
- Global Mobility and Travel Restrictions
Global Crises and Research Collaboration
Evidently 2020 has been a year for global crises. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every industry. Higher education has been left reeling because of budget cuts and projected or actual losses in income.
In the research world, the phrase ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ seems pertinent now, as calls for an improved research culture are rising. With COVID-19, for example, it’s been shown how quickly researchers can collaborate and share data to pursue crisis resolution. In March, 30 influential research publishers worldwide announced they’d make their COVID-19 research freely available.
International collaboration in the form of research is incredibly important for solving global crises. This has been felt in many recent crises, such as the banning of CFCs in the fight to close the hole in the ozone layer or the Ebola crisis of 2014-15.
When it comes to solving problems, there’s power shown when innovation, coordination and private and public sector organizations can come together. The issue on the table is how researchers, universities, publishers and other institutions can promote an increasingly open and collaborative global environment for shared research capabilities.
Geopolitical and Economic Issues
The geopolitical state of the world is changing faster than ever. There’s an increasingly volatile dynamic growing between Western protectionism, nationalism and increasing development in lesser economically developed countries (LEDCs).
At the same time, globalization brings markets and politics closer together. Questions are raised about protectionist policies undermining research capabilities as well as growing innovation and creativity that’s flourishing in LEDCs.
In light of research in combating COVID-19, the World Economic Forum writes “a post-COVID-19 world faces further retreat from multilateralism, undermining international collaboration in scientific and health research at a time when we need it most.”
“We simply cannot allow a withdrawal into a Hobbesian world of aggressive competition among states for commercial gain. Not when the global population is so large and interconnected; and not when lifesaving breakthroughs are needed in many places at once.”
There’s also the issue of economic growth and its impact on research. It’s common knowledge that LEDCs have a higher GDP growth rate than countries with larger, more established economies. There are many reasons for this, but one is simple: It is because they have the space to catch up. An economy slows as it grows, whereas a smaller one has a quicker pace.
For example, if we look at this graph of GDP growth rate supplied by the World Bank, we can see that developing India (with a GDP of $2.94 trillion) has a growth rate of 5.024%. While the United States has a GDP of roughly $21.5 trillion, their GDP growth rate is 2.334% - around 3% lower.
Source: World Bank
This is a trend that’s also matched with global research. The protectionism that can be increasingly found in Western countries (due to political stances and also COVID-19 influences) affects the efficiency of research projects due to the economic ability of universities.
In a report by the British Council, it was found that small increases in GDP per capita contribute to a significant increase in the rates of enrolment for universities. With LEDCs generally exhibiting a higher GDP growth rate across the board, we can imagine that the rates of university enrolments in these countries will also be higher than in more developed countries.
For example, in 2017, both India and China, with their quickly developing economies, had increases in the number of international students they produced of 19.3% and 12% respectively. In contrast, the US only increased this number by 7.4%.
What this means is that, as the number of students increase, universities have the opportunity to capitalize on promoting international collaboration. The World Economic Forum states that ‘protectionism spells trouble for global economic growth’ and so it’s not a policy that should be mirrored in higher education.
Higher education should open its arms for overseas collaboration, in terms of guaranteeing good financial income from diversified places and in securing a wide array of talent for continuing research projects.
Global Mobility and Travel Restrictions
COVID-19 affected travel globally at the start of 2020. This is still a big issue that affects businesses and business travelers. While some countries have been able to open themselves up, others are still shut to outsiders. In the UK, for example, the UK Government advises against ‘all but essential’ travel to specific destinations.
Each country has its own list of destinations that you can travel to and where you can travel from (without the need to self-isolate for a time period). In other countries, they are offering two options when you enter: Either self-isolate for a specific time or pay for a coronavirus test (of indeterminate process).
At the time of writing, locations such as the US, Australia and most of Western Europe are partially open, meaning that entrance may depend on an individual’s citizenship, country of origin or other specifications. The UK is currently operating with no restrictions on travel, but full contact and travel details need to be provided. Also, travelers entering the UK must self-isolate for 14 days after arrival, depending on where they arrived from.
Due to the nature of COVID-19 and a country’s success rate at curbing transmission over time, any list of travel restrictions would quickly go out of date. For those in the higher education industry who need to or are considering traveling for work, it’s important to research any travel restrictions that are potentially in place.
What Do Travel Restrictions Mean for Research Projects?
The biggest issue for research in terms of global travel restrictions is the lack of access to international students and research professionals. This represents a huge impact on finances and research capabilities.
The country’s higher education institutions are also worried that the loss of international students would mean a significant blow to their research budgets - affecting important projects. More often than not, income from international students subsidizes these research projects. Prof Colin Riordan, of Cardiff University, stated:
Universities are playing an absolutely pivotal role in the crisis, in understanding what is going on and developing routes out of it. Research is critical to that. But at the same time that research is being propped up by a revenue stream that is massively threatened by the virus.
It’s evident that higher education needs to re-evaluate its research processes, analyzing them for any potential weak spots that may hinder the underlying impact of research in a post-COVID world.
So how do universities maintain an influx of international students while dealing with the issues of travel restrictions? There are several solutions, but the safest include undertaking overseas hiring or overseas entity set-up - two processes offered by a Global PEO.
To see how higher education can combat the challenges of COVID-19 and promote increased collaborative research projects, explore our detailed guide.
Ensuring Higher Education Success in a Post-COVID World
As we’ve mentioned, COVID-19 has had a massive impact on universities worldwide. They’re suffering from budget cuts, constraints on research and the inability to recruit from worldwide talent pools or attract international students.
In our guide, you can explore each of these topics. We’ll also present potential solutions in the form of an experienced Global PEO support process. To begin the download of your free guide, click the button below.