Lengthening cords and strengthening stakes : a case study in the provision of nurse education in a global context

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The development of educational programs in one culture for the delivery in another is not a new phenomenon. Practices associated with colonial and cultural imperialism have been documented in the literature. In recent decades, higher education programs in cross-cultural contexts have proliferated. As enrolments at universities in many western countries have increased and funding has been reduced, these universities have sought markets in other cultural contexts to provide them with a financial lifeline. This trend is consistent with the forces of globalisation and has not only economic implications but also cultural, social and political dimensions that need to be addressed. Universities in developing countries have often found it necessary to expand their educational options to respond to the evolving needs of their students. Partnerships with universities that offer their programs in the cross-cultural marketplace have attempted to satisfy these demands. This study investigates the experiences of academics who have participated in such a marketing relationship. They were employed by two universities, one in Australia and one in Hong Kong, involved in an agreement to provide post registration nursing courses in Hong Kong. A number of issues are explored in this study. These issues include the implications of developing and delivering education in a cross-cultural context specifically Hong Kong given the learning experiences of students from that culture. There are also important implications arising from the fact that nursing education has a history that has been shaped by the relationships nursing has had with other disciplines, particularly medicine. The study adopts a qualitative methodology and uses social critical theory to explore the experiences of the academics employed by these two universities. It is argued that their experiences have not been openly articulated. This has meant that educational programs have been marketed and delivered without input from those who are involved at the grass roots. Through revealing the reported experiences of the academics, this study aims to identify forces of dominance in the education and health systems that have kept nursing academics in a subordinate position. The thesis argues that these forces have prevented them from articulating the issues that impact on their work, including the quality of the educational programs that are delivered. The findings suggest that the nursing academics have been subjected to several forces that have subjugated them. These forces include the more powerful rhetoric advanced by management and the medical profession. In this cross-cultural context, the academics in Hong Kong have also been dominated by the Australian academics. This study identifies some of the points of resistance to the dominance and also strategies that nurse academics have adopted in becoming become agents of change within the field of nursing education. Implications of these findings for the future of cross- cultural education in nursing are also discussed.
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