Things have changed

Not many blog posts these days…and that won’t change too much in the next few weeks. I’m working hard to finish two papers for two conferences next month in Austria and Ireland. Before the conferences, I’ll be in the Netherlands for a few weeks.

And talking about the Netherlands… During my frequent short term writer’s blocks I stumbled upon this video called “Sex, Drugs and Democracy”, a documentary about the liberal nature of Dutch society. At least…. the way it was in 1994. It starts with the usual stuff. By now, everyone probably heard about the sex and the drug policies in the Netherlands, so skip that.

A small part – related to society and politics – is actually quite interesting. When I watched the part I thought I was watching a video from the 1980s. And that was not only because of the hairdo (I did know our hair in the eighties was rather ridiculous, but apparently the same goes for the nineties). This part of the documentary illustrates how a society can change in just over 10 years. I’m sure that the movie is rather one-sided even for that time. But still, it’s been a long time since I have seen Dutch people being so proud about:

Continue reading Things have changed

De-mystify Public Policy for Higher Education

Yesterday evening I attended the first seminar in the new Higher Education Colloquium Series organised by the Faculty of Education and Social Work of the University of Sydney. The first presentation – ‘trying to de-mystify public policy for higher education’ was given by Geoff Gallop, director of the Graduate School of Government at the University of Sydney and former Premier of Western Australia.

He made several interesting observations and recommendations. Todays higher education section of The Australian emphasised his plea for further deregulation of the sector. Although the Australian system is very market driven, there is still a lot of micro-management coming from the federal government. He argues that the argument for significant deregulation is gathering momentum on the basis of a general case for more flexibility and more diversity overall. I hope the current Minister of Education takes his advise on board. Flexibility and diversity are very apparent in the vocabulary of the policy makers, but I am not sure whether deregulation is…

Another important point he made was (paradoxically?) a greater involvement of the state governments.

Continue reading De-mystify Public Policy for Higher Education

Crack addict: University Inc.

More than 25 years after the Bayh-Dole Act came into force, Members of the Subcommittee on Technology & Innovation met to discuss the future of the law. The law allows universities to patent inventions that result from government funded R&D. Inside HigherEd reports that most members agreed that circumstances have changed the last 25 years. Competition is coming from China and India, instead of Germany and Japan. Technology is now more complex, with technological innovations being based on a bundle of patents instead of a few. And…universities have become competitors not just collaborators. This last point was observed by Susan Butts, the senior director of external science and technology programs at Dow Chemical.

She agreed with other members that there was a potential for more collaboration between universities and industry, especially since private funding for research and development has increased over the years. But, she said, a primary obstacle to more partnerships is the potential for disputes over intellectual property.

Continue reading Crack addict: University Inc.

Barclays Financial Center

The outcome of the battle for ABN Amro between the Royal Bank of Scotland Group and Barclays will not just affect the banking sector but also have an impact on Dutch higher education. The Volkskrant reports this morning that Barclays wants to invest 20 Million Euros in the Facult of Economics of the University of Amsterdam. The university can use the money to attract top professors in order to improve the quality of its education and research. In return, the faculty will change the name of ‘part of its faculty’ into the Barclays Financial Centre. This will be announced by the university later today.

This is quite a unique development in the Netherlands. It might be getting slightly more common to nameBarclays Financial Center chairs or buildings after their sponsors, but a whole department or center… I am sure it will cause some protests and resistance from students and academics. I am particularly interested in the reaction of the academic staff in the faculty.

I wouldn’t mind too much if someone gave my department 20 million euros, as long as the deal included the necessary clauses on academic independence. I would suggest another name though, something more…academic. This way it sounds more like a branch of Barclays than a center of the University of Amsterdam. Why can’t they just call it something like the Barclays School of Finance?

UPDATE: Continue reading Barclays Financial Center

Asian Godfathers: Collusion of Business & Politics

Another book to add to my ‘to-read-list’: Asian Godfathers: Money and Power in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Newsweek has an article by the author of the book, Joe Studwell. Studwell had expected that the Asian crisis ten years ago would trigger the transition from crony capitalism to a market free of manipulation by bureaucrats and politicians. After the research for his book, he concludes that he was wrong:

The architecture of the Southeast Asian economy remains what it was 10 and 50 and 100 years ago. The domestic economies of Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines are all still dominated by reclusive, enigmatic billionaires and their families.

He observes that inequality has persisted in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong and attributes this to the Asian Godfathers. These Asian billionaires can avoid the pressures for global competitiveness by prospering from concessions, monopolies and cartels. Southeast Asian crony capitalism might have followed quite different historical pats Continue reading Asian Godfathers: Collusion of Business & Politics

W-E-B links for Today: Truth & Lies

What did the internets bring me today? A lot of truths and lies:

  • World news today – healthcare in the US and who is telling the truth? Michael Moore on CNN, demanding an apology.
  • Education & Science news today – Dr. Carmona and the administration who had instructed him to put political considerations over scientific ones: truth vs. lies, a.k.a. science versus politics.
  • Blog post today: science versus politics was the theme of yesterday’s ‘great global warming swindle’ event. John Quiggin blogs on this hilarious evening and shows how the delusionists were demolished. And Auxedit shows why it was hilarious.

Graduates and the Australian Labour Market

Meanwhile, in Australia a discussion is going on about the supply and demand of graduates. Are there enough university graduates or too few, or maybe even too many? And if there is a gap between supply and demand, how can this gap be filled by changing the supply? Or is there simply no such thing as an oversupply of high quality graduates in the knowledge economy?

Bob Birrell, Daniel Edwards and Ian Dobson from Monash University published a paper emphasizing the widening gap between demand for and supply of university graduates. Continue reading Graduates and the Australian Labour Market

W-E-B links for Today: Economists

What did the internets bring me today? A lot of economists: