The end of the university? Not likely

This article was first published in University World News. This year has frequently seen apocalyptic headlines about the end of the university as we know it. Three main drivers have been and still are fuelling these predictions: the worldwide massification of higher education; the increasing use of information and communication technology in teaching and the delivery of education; and the ongoing globalisation of higher education. These developments will make the traditional university obsolete in 2038. At least, that’s what some want us to believe. The massification of higher education worldwide – even more than the…Read more …

Regulating recruitment agencies

Study abroad for a full degree has developed from an elite to a mass phenomenon. Parallel to this development, we have witnessed a commercialization of international higher education where many institutions have become financially dependent on full fee paying international students. To operate in this (global) market, institutions – and especially the lesser-known ones – now frequently turn to agents and recruiters in order to attract prospective students. Many point to the risks of these third party agents and plea for more regulation or even abolishment. Abolish or regulate? In Inside Higher Ed,…Read more …

On the use of rankings and league tables

Just before going to a meeting on rankings I saw this. It is from the proposed new immigration policy: Blueprint for a modern migration policy (pdf; in Dutch). As in so many other immigration countries, it contains a chapter on skilled migration. Here is a translation of the passage that surprised me: Anticipating the implementation of the new migration system, the government will at the latest in the first half of 2009 introduce a regulation for highly skilled immigrants. On the basis of the regulation, foreigners can stay in the country for a…Read more …

Global Classrooms in the Desert

Both the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times bring an article by Tamar Lewin on universities rushing to set up outposts abroad. It presents an illustrative overview of the risks, benefits and the viability of institutional globalisation in higher education. If, after reading the article, you are left with any pressing questions, the NYT gives you the opportunity to pose them dirteclty to Charles E. Thorpe, the dean of Carnegie Mellon in Qatar (ht: globalhighered). To get you started, here are some interesting quotes that provide food for thought: Howard Rollins,…Read more …

W-E-B links for Today: Globalisation

What did the internets bring me today? A lot of globalisation... The World and globalisation - Globalisation is globalising. A site by Axel Dreher of the ETH Zurich containing lots of data on economic, social and political globalisation: the KOF index of globalisation. Education & globalisation - There are many many definitions of globalisation and this is the one taught in French textbooks: "globalisation implies subjugation of the world to the market, which constitutes a real cultural danger". Stefan Theil in Foreign Policy on bias and indoctrination in German and French economics textbooks.…Read more …

Secrecy and Accountability in the UNSW Asia Aftermath

I mentioned before that it has been difficult to find out the real reasons for the UNSW Asia closure in Singapore in May this year. The University of New South Wales has not exactly followed a transparent strategy in this issue (for my interpretation of the events, look at this post). A similar level of secrecy seems to be applied to the further handling of the case. This week the Singapore Straits Times reported that the University of New South Wales has agreed to repay some 25 million Australian dollars to Singapore. The…Read more …

Realizing the Global University

What defines a global 'superpower'? In the past, it was the size of national armies or possession of nuclear weapons. But now there is a more important (and peaceful) benchmark: the size and prestige of university systems. And, while the US is still the global higher education 'superpower', China will soon be knocking it off top spot if current trends continue. ...a dramatic insight into just how rapidly China is moving in the higher education race... anything anyone in the West can easily imagine... a wake-up call to universities and governments around the…Read more …

The Viability of Institutional Globalisation

Last month's Far Eastern Economic Review included an article by Simon Montlake on Singapore's Global School House strategy. The strategy has been formulated to contributes to Singapores development as a regional and global hub for research and development and - in Montlake's words - to shed a reputation as a stodgy, scripted society, where creativity is dulled by overzealous government regulation. The strategy targets a growth in foreign students from 80,000 now to 150,000 by 2015. This growth obviously cannot be solely absorbed by Singapore's two major universities, NUS and NTU and therefore…Read more …

Money can’t buy me… Or can it?

To what extent can you 'build' a high quality university from the ground up? Hard to say, but as long as you got plenty of oil money, why not try? The Saudi government is embarking on a very ambitious project and puts its billions behind Western-Style Higher Education. But Nature questions whether one of the fundamental principles of a 'western style' university (or in my opinion, any university) applies in Saudi Arabia and asks whether a Saudi university can think freely? Ziauddin Sardar, a UK-based writer, is skeptical: "The bureaucratic police state will…Read more …

Higher Education in the 21st Century

From this weeks Times Higher Education Supplement: Nottingham owns a 37.5 per cent share in the Ningbo campus, a joint venture with the state-owned Wanli Education Group. Wanli provided the infrastructure, worth £14 million. Nottingham has spent a further £5.3 million in its Malaysia campus, in which it owns 29.1 per cent of the shares. A spokesman for Nottingham said that the university's current deficit of Pounds 8 million on a £345.9 million income was not tied directly to the China and Malaysia developments, as it had spent more than £200 million over…Read more …

International Rankings: A Self-fulfilling Nightmare?

In the latest issue of the American Journal of Sociology, Wendy Nelson Espeland (Northwestern University) and Michael Sauder (University of Iowa) present an impressive paper on Rankings and Reactivity: How Public Measures Recreate Social Worlds. The paper shows how the rise of public measures change social behaviour by looking at the law school rankings of the US News and World Report (USNWR). It struck me how many of their findings and arguments can be applied to international rankings as well. In some cases, their arguments might even be stronger for international rankings and…Read more …

Malaysia as an Education Hub

The UNSW debacle in Singapore and the exit of Johns Hopkins last year, have dealt a serious blow to the Global Schoolhouse strategy of the Singapore government. Singapore’s neighbor Malaysia announced a similar strategy last year. With this strategy, Malaysia becomes one of the most interesting examples of the way that higher education is globalizing nowadays. A major exporter as well as importer of higher education, with foreign universities within its borders and Malay universities establishing branches outside Malaysia. First of all, Malaysia has long been sending many of their students and university…Read more …

Questions on the UNSW ASIA debacle

After three months in operation, the Singapore adventure of the University of New South Wales has come to an end. Another 22 million Singapore dollars down the drain. The decision to establish a branch campus in Singapore was taken in 2005 and already led to some commotion at that time (see this post). In 2005, UNSW from Australia and the University of Warwick from the UK were the only two foreign universities granted special status by the Singaporean Government (through its Economic Development Board, EDB) to set up a fully fledged independent teaching…Read more …

World Class Universities

Robert Birnbaum, professor of higher education at the University of Maryland and author of some very interesting books on higher education (How Colleges Work; Management Fads in Higher Education) has written an interesting (and amusing) article in International Higher Education (the Quarterly of the Center for International Higher Education (CIHE) in Boston College). Birnbaum is worried about the World Class University ranking crisis. Universities around the world are either proclaiming that they have attained or try to achieve this mythical status. But actually, we have no clue what it means. Philip Altbach, leader…Read more …

Debunking EU Myths?

Andrew Moravcsik, Professor of Politics at Princeton University comes to the defence of Europe. Moravcsik is probably one of the most influential contemporary writers on European Politics and introduced a liberal inter-governmentalist approach to the study of European Integration (see for instance this book). On the occasion of the EU's 50th birthday he writes an article in Newsweek - The Golden Moment - debunking the myths of Europe's allegedly sclerotic economies, labour markets and politics. Europe is not a continental-size museum dropping into the dustbin of history...on the contrary.Economically, Europe is doing a…Read more …