Higher Education and Business
Surprise, surprise! Higher education can foster economic growth and development.
Not surprised? Higher education and business have long been linked in the United States, where the MBA has become a ticket to success in the global marketplace. Then it should come as no surprise that institutes of higher learning are partnering with the business sector in Jamaica too. Jamaica’s higher education system is flourishing, thanks in part to close ties with the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF) has been empowering American universities and colleges so that the next generation of managers and executives can compete in the global market. Jamaica is on the same road.
What may come as a real surprise regarding the link between higher education and business development is that the relationship between business and higher education is not a one-way street. Education itself has become an exportable service and Jamaica is hoping to cash in on the business of education. To participate fully in the global economy, Jamaica must capitalize on its ability to lure not just tourists to the sunny island but also students.
Students interested in becoming immersed in Jamaican culture can study in one of the nation’s renowned universities. Partnerships between American universities and Jamaican ones are becoming more common, offering exchange students the chance to learn about multiple industries from multiple perspectives. However, Jamaican universities are also starting to use distance-learning technologies to deliver quality educational services to students and adult learners around the world — without anyone having to leave home.
It should come as no surprise that senior managers and consultants of all sorts hail from institutes of higher learning. Their advanced degrees earn them top salaries and challenging work in any number of different sectors. Jamaica stands poised to be one of the most promising developing nations by promoting domestic higher education as a key to business and social development. Jamaica no longer needs to drain its country of the brains that can fuel its prosperity and growth. The key to the island nation’s success, and perhaps to the whole region’s success, is promoting higher education as a key to business development.
The relationship between higher education and business is changing dramatically. Gone are the days of creeping up the corporate ladder. The newest generations of managers and executives are culled from top business schools and programs from around the world. Jamaican students are no exception to those earning business degrees from top universities worldwide. The lack of language barrier enables Jamaican students to readily study and work abroad. Geographic proximity to the United States means that Jamaica and the United States will continue to share resources, both human and technological. At the same time, Jamaica and the United States are working together to promote mutual success. American universities are working with their Caribbean counterparts to create a trans-border trade in ideas and information.
This weekly column will explore issues related to business and higher education in Jamaica and in the United States. Each issue will address specific concerns related to everything from gender to ethics, management to ecommerce. The column will encourage an exploration of cultural differences in a desire to foster dialogue. Business ethics, corporate culture, and diversity will be recurrent themes.
Finally, we will describe trends in higher education and business that impact Jamaica, the United States, and the relationship between the two countries. For example, American universities have started offering MBA areas of specialization in entrepreneurship. Jamaican universities may start doing the same: opening up a wealth of opportunity for small business growth and development. Jamaican universities are also taking advantage of trends in education-as-business. An article published on the Boston College Center for International Higher Education notes that the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) enables Jamaica to market education internationally in the same way it might market rum.
Rethinking what higher education means and the role it plays in society can lead to surprising revelations of what the human spirit is capable of. While globalization and internationalization present numerous problems, those problems can be resolved by encouraging dialogue. In fact, institutes of higher learning play crucial roles in crafting public policy initiatives that can mitigate the negative impacts of free trade. Free trade agreements need to stifle small business growth and should not increase income disparity or access to education. Nations like Jamaica are in a unique position of power: at a time in which cooperation and collaboration are critical.
Education can empower citizens. Universities do not just churn out MBAs. The goal of higher learning is to instill critical and creative thinking habits that can transform the global marketplace, economic theory, and urban and rural development models. Students can contribute to business and social development by becoming writers, public relations managers, international relations consultants, and experts on corporate ethics and the law. The role of education is business is expanding and so is the role of business in education. We look forward to what new surprises may be in store for the United States and Jamaica.
Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF). Web site retrieved Oct 15, 2008 at http://www.bhef.com/
Frater, T. (2008). Jamaica’s Development Goals and GATS Commitment. Retrieved Oct 15, 2008 at http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/soe/cihe/newsletter/Number53/p13_Frater.htm
Williams-Tracy, L. (2005). Entrepreneurs find answers in higher education. Charlotte Business Journal. March 25, 2005. Retrieved Oct 15, 2008 at http://charlotte.bizjournals.com/charlotte/stories/2005/03/28/focus4.html
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