Ethical challenges and responses
Day 1, Opening Panel. What are the ethical challenges and responses in higher education from a cross-sectorial perspective?
Heidy Hadsell presented four ethical challenges for higher education institutions. The discussion was broadly focused on independence, honesty, moral challenges and access. Secondly, Dewi Padmo, representing Tian Belawati, gave a micro vision from ethics and talked specifically about the case of open and distance learning in the Indonesia Open University.
(From left to right: Ani Casimir, Dewi Padmo and Heidi Hadsell - Picture I.Haaz / Globethics.net)
There are four crucial points regarding ethical challenges:
- The challenge of being independent: e.g. from the Government, who is for many individuals the sole financial provider. This means being independent from political agendas. Furthermore, being independent from the business community for instance to have money to pay the programme. What is important in university education? "Should we be dictated by who has the money"?
- Moral challenge: Should freedom of speech exist—and to what extent?
- Access: who gets in to the university? In the United States the university system is not fair in the sense that fees are too high for the average person. In contrast, in some countries such as Brazil the university education is free. Nevertheless, there is an implicit cost, that the people that want to be approved for the entry exam have to prepared for years in private schools to achieve the level education required. The question at the end is how we can create access?
- Honesty: "who they are, what they do? What you serve?". These are some questions that should be answered.
Dewi Padmo shared that only 2 million people in Indonesia have access to the university. With Open and Distance Learning (ODL), people don't have to leave home to study and this is of special importance due to the geography of the country (more than 80% is water). The Indonesia Open University "provides access for anyone to quality education without having to leave their family, home, or loosing career opportunities"
Ethical standards for ODL: "enables distance education authorities to be accountable to self and community" (Faharani, 2012).
Ethical issues arise in different situations at different levels: management, operations and academic affairs. Furthermore, are related to plagiarism, confidentiality of information, etc.
A code of ethics was implemented at the university to ensure better quality for the programme and has particular strategies such as a money reward for the informant of cheating students.
At the end, Ani Casimir spoke about African universities and the future challenges in terms of ethics.