University of Edinburgh
This presentation makes a case for using postcolonial discourse as a critical lens to study transnational education (TNE) to identify the structural inequalities and neo-colonial nature of globalised education systems. TNE is an educational system where students live in a country different from their degree-awarding institutes. Higher education services, not students, cross national borders, creating a global flow of knowledge commodified for those who can afford it. These socio-economic networks are a product of globalisation and the internationalisation of higher education which facilitate the connectivity of people and communities across borders. Postcolonial discourses offer a collection of perspectives and theoretical concepts which capture how colonial, neo-colonial, and postcolonial practices shape contemporary educational systems.
Using the example of an academic franchise between a university in England and a private design institute in Sri Lanka, this research offers critical insights into the power structures embedded in British transnational education systems. Ethnographic narratives of stakeholders situated in the design franchise reveal nuanced insights into engaging with TNE. Their lived experiences synthesise social, institutional, and economic motivations with contextual specificities, illustrating the complexity of such educational systems. In this case, analysing empirical data using postcolonial discourses such as agency alongside theoretical concepts such as friction challenge current definitions for franchised higher education programmes and the promise of a global design education offering a neutral, universal experience to all students and facilitators.
KEYWORDS: postcolonial analysis of transnational education systems, globalisation, design education, postcolonial discourse, systemic design, elitism, oppression
Graphics posted on storage shelves in Graphics Studio 1, Academy of Design, March 2019.