Global or international education is a term that is frequently bandied about these days, but what does it mean exactly? People most commonly think it refers to when a student travels abroad for education, but it also includes when institutions set up branch campuses abroad. At its core though, global education alludes to a set of ideas about education that transcends national borders. It is when students and teachers travel across the globe in pursuit of learning or educating.
Global education is a form of and approach to education that prepares students for this rapidly interconnected new world. It is believed that being globally educated will allow students the opportunity to not only gain a prestigious education but also a uniquely multifaceted academic experience. Through exposure to diverse systems, perspectives and cultures, globally educated students understand the inextricable links between the lives of individuals across the world. They also understand the way each nation’s economic, cultural, political and environmental changes influence one another. Hence, globally educated students possess the skills, attitudes and values needed to thrive in this new rapidly changing world.
Historically, global education began in the 1190s with Emo of Friesland, a Dutch scholar who attended Oxford University. Following that, global education started gaining traction with France, Britain and Germany exchanging scholars but it was still just reserved for the aristocratic elite. However, it expanded further when the Dutch, French and British universities established branch campuses in their colonised countries during the colonial period. The modern version of global education started in the early 20th century when the revolution of transportation allowed students to cross oceans and nations easily. Later, institutions started expanding operations beyond their home nation as well. For example, in the 1950s, Johns Hopkins University opened a branch campus in Italy, which is now considered the oldest established branch campus still in operation.
Currently, more and more institutions are both inviting international students to join them and establishing branch campuses worldwide. The building of official offshore campuses by highly illustrious institutions in particular has been increasing in recent years. For example, Yale collaborated with National University of Singapore to establish Yale-NUS, the first liberal arts college in Singapore. The institutions see this as an excellent opportunity to expand their prestige, increase connections and create a solid base for full-scale and rapid development. Students meanwhile reap the benefit of enjoying the same distinguished quality of teaching and learning as and obtaining an identical degree from these esteemed institutions.
Governments are encouraging this exchange of students and faculty for the diplomatic and educational benefits. Malaysia is now experiencing a boom of prestigious institutions from the UK, USA, Australia and even China establishing official branch campuses in the country. It is a reflection of Malaysia’s desire and efforts to become a global education hub and a more globalised nation.
Global education will continue evolving and expanding as we become more and more interconnected and transform into a harmonious globalised society. The next generation deserves to be a part of this phenomenon and utilise the knowledge they’ve gathered to take the world to new heights.