Education, digitalisation and globalisation

Can digitalisation of education help to reduce globalisation?

A brief introduction of globalisation

Globalisation began to be discussed in the 18th century, with the development of transport and communication. Globalisation is defined by three pillars. It allies:

  • exchange of goods and services
  • free circulation of ideas
  • mobility of people

Globalisation has allowed a phenomenal development that allows us to live the life we know today, in industrialized and rich countries such as instant communication, access to raw resources, generalized international trade, links between countries.


However, globalisation has shown its limits. Mass relocation, no transparent tracing of the origins of raw materials and exploitation of the poor are a few examples. In the face of the climate crisis, globalisation can be criticised and questioned. The current trend is to return to the local, circular economies. How does education fit into this phenomenon?



How is education linked to globalisation ?

Digitalisation of education is one direct consequence of globalisation. Universities and training institutions have taken advantage of the marketing channel to reach as many people as possible, for several reasons: for example to improve their image with the public, or to make their training courses profitable. As a result, students from universities can study and be a graduate of a foreign university. In practice, someone can be living in Paris, while studying an online course at MIT, Massachusetts.
This revolution in education facilitates self-training, and therefore entrepreneurship. It has become easier to self-train in an unknown field. It has become easier to attend courses in prestigious universities that usually limit access through rigorous selection. Through education, globalisation shows its good side.



Digitalisation of education and brain drain

Digitalisation enhances the free circulation of ideas but reduces the mobility of people.

In a context where good students from poor countries go to study in an economically developed country, the brain drain phenomenon does not help the development of these students’ countries of origin. 

The same phenomenon can be observed from rich countries to other countries with high attractiveness, such as the United States or the Nordic countries for Europe.

It is possible to make the hypothesis that a student who has stayed a few years in a foreign university, who has established strong social ties, will want to stay in the host country to begin his or her professional life.

What if the student has the opportunity to study at a foreign university without having to cross borders? Is it conceivable that the skills acquired with a prestigious degree could be more easily put to good use in the home country?

There are no obvious answers to these questions, as there are sociological, economic and political issues to be considered.

It remains certain that the digitalized diffusion of knowledge and skills will have a significant impact on local applications, using globalisation to detach itself a little.



The future of education, or the future of globalisation ?

This article is not intended to provide a solution, but to raise questions about the future of education in the context of the ecological crisis and its link to globalisation.

Although globalisation has allowed the development we know today in Europe, this system is no longer sustainable in the long term. Education is a key medium in this process, and the future of our societies will be played out there.


Written by Vanille Guillaume,
Public Affairs Manager at JEE


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