Higher education as a common good


The UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) has launched a series of Strategic Debates around its current major axes in the field of education.

The March 12th Strategic Debate dealt with “Higher education (HE) as a common good in the Era of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)”. The key speaker was Prof. Simon Marginson, professor and director of the Centre for Global Higher Education at University College of London.

According to Simon, the accent is always placed on HE individual benefits while its numerous common benefits tend to be understudied. Simon advocates for using the concept of “common good” instead of the usual economic distinctions between private and public and between market/non-market HE. Although they provide a useful explanation, they don’t allow for thinking about a real policy framework. On the contrary, the concept of “common good” is more inclusive and allows for rethinking our approach in the face of various cultural traditions across the world.

For Simon, some global common goods can be put forward in the world without disregarding diversity, such as communication and mobility between universities, research knowledge in all the disciplines, or a networked space for academic freedom and free learning.

Debates and other main events can be followed on the IIEP Website