This unique glocal partnership is leading the way on SDG 4

A partnership between a Canadian university and an Indian college which grants Indian students a Canadian work permit upon graduation offers an effective example of third-culture building and supports the idea of glocalisation as a sustainable alternative to exploitative international higher education models.

The exploitative models of internationalisation adopted as corporate models by higher education institutions around the world continue to target international students in the post-COVID-19 period in a self-interested manner. However, alternative glocalisation models are emerging, with hope for a more sustainable and benevolent higher education paradigm.

In the era of the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are a priority for the human development of many of the communities from which universities attract many of their students, few higher education internationalisation models seem to demonstrate a duty of care to students through sustained employment opportunities upon graduation.

Internationalisation models focus on the business of selling Western higher education to developing communities, prioritising the dollars-cents value of higher education and ensuring a mass exodus of foreign student cohorts back to their home countries upon graduation.

The case for glocalisation

In a 2011 article, “Rethinking internationalisation”, Dr Thushari Welikala contends that “internationalisation upholds the dominant cultures’ ideology”.

I make the same argument in the 2013 book, Intercultural Communication: Building a Global Community. Internationalisation presents a top-down, one-way development communication model in which learners from developing world communities are enticed into believing that the West is providing them with a human upliftment opportunity.

As an alternative to the exhausted capitalist-driven agenda of internationalisation as a commodity, in a 2013 paper, Hayley Lynch and I encourage international higher education to pursue the glocalisation of the learning paradigm.

Glocalisation is committed to the human upliftment of developing communities as a partnership activity through the negotiation of paradigm of building a third-culture.

The Fraser Valley University (Canada) and Chandigarh Goswami Ganesh Dutta Sanatan Dharma College (GGDSD College, India) partnership is characterised by a mutually beneficial and respectful engagement between both partners.

The GGDSD College website announcement to the learner community from Chandigarh, India that Canadian work permits shall be granted upon graduation is a testimony to its commitment to empowering glocal (local and global) communities. This is a unique step towards building sustainable quality education (SDG 4) through mutually beneficial partnerships in which humanity is the key transactional currency.

On the other hand, higher education continues to be marketed at an international level as a commodity, without the promise of any benefits for students from developing communities.

A different model

The collaborative Fraser Valley Canada and India glocalisation partnership is an exemplar of the glocalisation paradigm in which the combined strengths of both local and global (glocal) communities are celebrated. The partnership means students: a) will save on major costs and ease their transition to Canada by completing part of their education in Chandigarh; b) can transfer to the Canadian campus or complete the entire programme in India; and c) will graduate with a Canadian degree and are eligible for a Canadian work permit.

The Fraser Valley University-Chandigarh project began in 2003 and a memorandum of understanding was formalised between the institutions in 2006.

To the best of the author’s knowledge and experience, internationalisation models based on study abroad programmes have not included the negotiation of “a work permit upon graduation” nor announced any beneficial or sustainable trajectory for international students’ work-life education enhancement on their institutional websites.

The author acknowledges the dynamic Fraser Valley University-Chandigarh project as an innovative “development from below” partnership between GGD SD College in India and Fraser Valley University in Canada. It supports the author’s contention that the glocalisation of learning paradigm is a viable option for the international higher education community instead of internationalisation.

The Fraser Valley University-Chandigarh project is an endorsement of the willingness of both glocal communities (Canadian and Indian) to adopt third-culture building which has an enriching and empowering quality. Their combined efforts aim to design a glocalisation of learning undergraduate programme which will provide a seamless transfer to Fraser Valley University in British Columbia, Canada, and to other Canadian institutions with a similar commitment so that graduates will be able to obtain a Canadian work permit upon graduation.

As such, it is an unparalleled achievement in international higher education. This is a learner success-oriented glocalisation model which ensures that learners can both contribute to the empowerment of their local community in India and pursue a good career path in Canada.

Wider benefits

Aside from SDG 4 on quality education, other SDGs which have been incorporated into the Fraser Valley University-Chandigarh project include SDG 8 on decent work and economic growth; SDG 10 on reduced inequalities; SDG 11 on sustainable cities and communities; and SDG 17 on partnerships for the goals.

The Fraser Valley University-Chandigarh project uniquely incorporates the glocalisation of learning framework within a glocal development perspective, placing human potential, mutual respect and third-culture building high on its agenda.

In doing so, the project represents glocal development which “refers to the simultaneous development of both local and global communities as a partnership in human endeavour rather than as an economic venture where one partner is subordinate to the other”.

Dr Fay Patel is an academic, researcher and international higher education consultant who has contributed to higher education programmes and projects in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States, South Africa, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Hong Kong. Patel was the former associate vice-president, teaching and student analytics, at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan, Canada. She also contributed to the UNESCO Forums (by invitation of UNESCO Bangkok) in Bangkok, Thailand and in Chengdu, China; as external peer reviewer in the World Bank quality assurance project in Bangladesh; as senior case manager at the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency in Melbourne, Australia; and as an independent reviewer in the Peer Review Portal project in Tasmania, Australia. Patel is the editor of the 2021 book Power Imbalance, Bullying and Harassment in Academia and the Glocal (Local and Global) Workplace.