Yesterday, Inside Higher Ed and the education section of the Guardian wrote about the establishment of yet another international consortium of universities: The International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU). Obviously, I have a special interest in these things since I have written my PhD dissertation about this phenomenon. Here I also concluded that many of such consortia do not fully exploit the opportunities that emerge in these cooperative ventures. And basically this has to do with the resistance of universities to give up any authority to these consortia.

The members of IARU are the Australian National University, ETH Zurich, National University of Singapore, Peking University, University of California at Berkeley, University of Copenhagen, the University of Tokyo, Yale University, Oxford and Cambridge. The inaugural presidents’ meeting in Singapore elected Professor Ian Chubb, vice-chancellor of the Australian National University as chairman for 2006-07.

Cambridge and Oxford said that topics that have been discussed for joint research by alliance members include the global movement of people, aging and health, food and water, energy and environment, and security. Ian Chubb said: “In the longer term, we plan to seek corporate/foundation/government support for research projects; perhaps convene a forum to share knowledge about the commercialisation of research and the legal and academic framework in each country; work jointly on benchmarking; and develop shared positions on key public policy issues.”

Like the establishment of similar alliances, this event has been accompanied by a lot media attention and a lot of promises. Many of similar alliances however went into oblivion or experienced a silent death. Let’s see where IARU ends up in a year or so…

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