In Nigeria, the president came up with a creative plan to neutralize the mini revolutions being started here and there against him. He could somehow reach an agreement with most of the rebels that he will sponsor their undergraduate and postgraduate education abroad after which they can come back to Nigeria and be part of its intellectual capital. The deal is not bad at all. As these students are sent to Dubai based on another agreement between the Nigerian government and a university here, they create a constant and stable stream of revenue for the university as well as add to its students’ diversity. The person running the university, who holds a doctorate in the business of education, also assures the Nigerian government that accommodation will be taken care of as part of the deal. For the Nigerian government and the university, it’s a win-win situation. The government enjoys a relatively peaceful political environment in the absence of those who challenge it, even if temporarily, and the university enjoys sustainable income.
The importance of having a student community in a city is crucial. Let’s take Auckland for example. Many argue that the reason this city in the very far New Zealand survived the financial crisis is because of the students who live and study in it. Since those are usually sponsored by governments of their respective countries or by wealthy parents, the city could maintain a certain level of economic stability as those students kept fueling the survival of its consumer market as well as housing for those who lived off campus. Another example would be Boston in the United States of America. For despite its lovely summers, the city has nothing to offer in its winters but extreme temperatures. However, a good school can easily attract students and keep the city going. With increased competition in domestic markets and generations growing older, there are only very few local students left for a university to attract, hence the importance of international students cannot be ignored, especially not now and not in the near or far future.
In an economy, inflation is normally measured by the change in the Consumer Price Index, referred to as CPI, in which consecutive years are compared to a base year for the overall change in inflation or to the year before the current one for a year to year change in inflation. The CPI is supposedly a basket that includes products of key importance to the economy and the country. These can be healthcare, insurance and financial services, housing, education, etc. When the cost of each component is calculated and a percentile weight is assigned to it to come up with the year’s CPI, the CPI of the previous year is subtracted from it and the answer is divided by that same CPI to come up with a new inflation rate. Now think of education as part of this calculation. Competition in it is as important as that of all other sectors if we want to keep inflation at its desired levels. This doesn’t mean artificially controlling the cost of education, but instead making sure that the market does not get trapped in some sort of a monopoly or an oligopoly.
The main difference between education and all other products in the CPI is the effect and impact it can have on the other products which would eventually affect economies and countries. Increased competition doesn’t necessarily mean too low prices and decreased quality, and the latter specifically cannot be allowed to happen when it comes to education. The latter is to be taken care of by the ministry handling education and higher education in each country. And for that, they need to be one step ahead in having a set of rules and guidelines for newly established universities and for those who are operating as foreign entities. As generations in the Middle East and Africa are younger in comparison to their compatriots elsewhere; universities abroad had to enhance their geographical presence. If making money is a main reason, then so be it, but if and only if quality education is being provided. For as I correctly remember, a prestigious and well known regional university had, when first established, a mission statement that spelled “to make money”.