Access to and within higher education

The theme of the 2012 Global Graduate Education Summit is “access to and within higher education”.  [The summit is a culminating event for Virginia Tech’s Future Professoriate Global Perspectives program held in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland in partnership with University of Basel in Switzerland and University of Lund, Sweden].  What follows is a preview of my musings in preparation for the opening presentation of the summit on May 29, 2012.

“Access to” and “access within” means many different things and we will explore the various meanings and global trends during the Summit.  At least initially, “access to” seems to make reference those who do, those who do not and those who should be able to seek admission into a college or university.  Historically specific groupings of individuals have not been able to access higher education but there seems to be emphasis on increasing access to colleges and universities in various parts of the world.  And with the advances in technology and the digital evolution the question must be raised about access to colleges and universities in a more traditional sense of higher education vs access to higher education in the sense of advanced knowledge and understanding not necessarily housed within colleges and universities.

“Access within” refers to those within the academy and how they access knowledge and understanding through teaching and learning, research/scholarship and engagement within higher education.  How information is taught.  How knowledge is acquired.  How learners learn. How one accesses information within and across disciplines or not.  How research questions are developed and shared or not.  The ways in which learning, discovery and engagement are or could be connected. These are just some of the topics that will be explored in the Summit.

“Access” also refers to access to the scholarship and information discovered (or uncovered) within the university.  Questions here could include who has access to the scholarship currently and how the public could access the information.  Open Access? Scholarship as private good or public good?  Education as private good or public good?  And there’s more.

Issues of access are intriguing and complicated – exciting conversations to follow.