Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations

Lecture Details

International Trade in Education Services What Should India Do?

December 28, 2005

Jointly with the United States Educational Foundation in India (USEFI), ICRIER organized a lecture by Prof. Stephen Heyneman, Professor of International Education Policy at the Vanderbilt University on ‘International Trade in Education Services: What Should India Do?’ on December 28, 2005 at ICRIER.

Prof. Heyneman has been with the World Bank looking after the education sector for over twenty years from 1977 to 1998. He is currently Fulbright New Century Scholar on Higher Education from the USA. In course of his long professional and academic career, he has closely looked at the economic and trade issues associated with educational commerce.

Pointing out the fact that education is among the services being traded, and has been included for discussions under the GATS framework, Prof. Heyneman analysed the concerns expressed by many scholars about classifying education as a traded service. Describing the content of education sector commerce, and defining the terms used in that trade, he reviewed the current status of education quality around the world, and explained why education is increasingly a factor of international trade. He reviewed the arguments for and against the trend to reduce barriers to education trade.

He justified competition in education services (that is underpinning of trade in education services) not merely as an article of faith and from some practical reasons like efficiency, but for furthering a basic human right. He argued that public interest is served best when each member of the public has access to the higher education it wants. Every monopoly abrogates this right of the public. Any nation that does not allow public the access to the education, it wants, abrogates a human right.

In the end, he weighed arguments both for and against India’s participation in education trade and suggested that it would be morally, economically, and educationally intelligent for India to do so.

The lecture session was chaired by Dr. Arvind Virmani, Director (ICRIER). Dr. Jane E. Schukoske, Executive Director, USEFI welcomed the audience. The lecture session was attended by eminent academicians, both from the public and private sector, researchers, thinkers and policy makers.


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