The Global Public University: global reach, local impact

uwmadison.jpgOn 11 March, William Brustein (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) and Susan Jeffords (University of Washington), two experts on the internationalization of higher education, held a candid discussion at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (pictured to the right) about how communities and regions benefit from the global efforts of their public universities.

Topics in this two hour-long event included knowledge hubs and economic development, strategic university-community partnerships, and institutional cooperation, among others.

A webcast of the forum can now be viewed online. PowerPoint presentations are also available for download.

A webcast of the previous Global Public University forum, featuring a dialogue between Stephen Toope (President, University of British Columbia) and David Ward (President, American Council on Education), can be viewed at this link, as well. It took place on 9 October 2007.

The Global Public University Series promotes discussion about the trends, challenges, and opportunities that impact public universities throughout the world and how these institutions can learn from and work with one another, and their communities. The event was co-sponsored by UW-Madison Division of International Studies, WISCAPE, and the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN), and reflects a desire to enhance strategic thinking about how to more effectively craft institutional strategies in a rapidly changing multi-scalar context. For example, the local/regional/provincial/state responsibilities of public universities, including the University of Wisconsin-Madison, creates some interesting challenges for crafting (and legitimizing) an international/global strategy, though in a manner that is supportive of making a “difference in the lives of Wisconsin citizens“. Events like this are designed to to spur on (re)thinking so as to enable institutions to better face these challenges; challenges that public universities around the world will increasingly face, regardless of available resources.

Kris Olds and Masarah Van Eyck

Mobile educational spaces: from Chaska’s Field of Dreams to Zaha’s nomad structure

The blurring of institutional boundaries via the establishment of international joint and dual/double degree programs, the opening up of branch campuses, the creation of hybrid spaces (of an interdisciplinary and a public/private nature), the operation of base campus affiliated overseas colleges, invitations to open up overseas bases within the confines of another campus, and the like, are but signs that higher education is becoming a very unsettled sector. Staid and conservative for the most, change is underway, and for a wide variety of reasons.

edcampus.jpgEducation Futuresprofile of “EdCampus” in Chaska, Minnesota, reinforces this point. Their informative entry, which draws upon a local Minnesotan newspaper, highlights a new university campus owned by one company, but associated with no particular university. As the source newspaper article puts it:

The novelty lies in the “Field of Dreams” approach of the company developing the EdCampus: If you build it, they will come.

The company plans to erect classrooms as shells, line up higher education institutions as tenants to fill them, then customize the rooms for satellite classes or lectures offered by as many colleges and universities as it can line up.

“They could lease space to anyone from Harvard to North Dakota State,” Chaska Mayor Gary Van Eyll said.

And the Chaska Herald newspaper writes that:

“EdCampus Twin Cities,” as it is being called, will “leverage the power of combining dynamic students from diverse institutions, backgrounds and disciplines into a single campus – outfitted with the best available technology, customizable classroom space, and student-centric services,” according to promotional material….

The project is estimated to cost $88 million to build. It would include 125 “custom classroom environments” spread across 225,000 square feet. An additional 115,000 square feet would provide space for student services, retail, corporate training spaces, lecture space and administrative offices.

“It will have everything a college campus would have,” said Pokorney. “But no football team.”

When complete, EdCampus could serve up to 6,500 students in addition to employing 200 professional and support staff. It is estimated that EdCampus could bring in nearly $100 million in annual revenues.

As Education Futures notes, this model negates the territorial imperative associated with most universities, for even the most global of universities still devotes a significant amount of effort to enhancing developmental ties to the local community. In this case, though, this is likely to be a mere service centre; a knowledge space akin to a motorway (freeway) rest stop for commuter students eager to acquire degrees, while dropping a few dollars here and there (“annual revenues”?) via consumption practices, and some streams of property tax income.

If this model can turn a higher education system on its head, then perhaps future scenarios will see universities adopting the contemporary mobile art container model currently on offer in Hong Kong. The design intelligentsia’s favorite architect – Zaha Hadid – has created a large mobile art complex (web cam shots below at dawn on 26 March) that is being moved between Hong Kong, London, New York, Moscow, and Paris.

chanelmobileart.jpg

This travelling pavilion houses an art exhibition made up of the work of 20 artists. A nomadic structure moving across global space; a museum that travels; innovative space for the the transmission of ideas and the cultivation of knowledge. Will the day come when we see a Zaha Hadid-designed mobile university campus, on permanent move between cities around the world, resplendent in its role as a space for the production of ever more global forms of knowledge and subjectivities? Far fetched, to be sure, and a quality assurance nightmare, but who would have thought “EdCampus” would ever be dreamt up in the Fargoesque landscape of Minnesota?!

Kris Olds

‘Malaysia Education’: strategic branding leads to growth in international student numbers 2006-8?

Several months back in our round-up of the global higher education student mobility market, we reported that Malaysia might be viewed as an emerging contender with 2% of the world market in 2006 (this was using the Observatory for Borderless Higher Education figures which reports only on the higher education sector).

Last week, Malaysia’s leading newspaper The Star reported that figures had increased between 2006 and 2008 by 30%, bringing the overall numbers of international students in Malaysian international schools and higher education institutions to 65,000. According to the following calculations by industry analyst (see pamjitsingh.ppt) the Malaysian government is well on target to realise its 2010 goal of 100,000 international students.

Taking into account the forecast in world demand by 2010, the Malaysian government estimates that their market share would need to grow from its current world share of international students (schools and higher education) of 3.9% in 2004 to 6.6% in 2010. In comparison to the global average annual growth rate of international students which is around 7.4% p.a, the Malaysian target growth rate would need to be in the order of 24.0% per annum to achieve the 2010 target.

In order to realize this goal, a new Higher Education Ministry Marketing and International Education Division was created.

    dr-nasser.jpg

    Dr Mohamed Nasser Mohamed Noor took on the post of Division Director in January 2006. According to Dr. Nasser, the success of this rapid increase can be attributed to Malaysia’s ‘branding’ of its education sector – ‘Malaysia Education’. It would seem that Malaysia is not far off course to realize their 2010 target if they maintain their current progress of 30% increase over two years (2006-2008).

    Branding has emerged as an important strategy for governments seeking to strategically develop their higher education markets. Nick Lewis’s entry on Brand New Zealand carried on GlobalHigherEd late last year illustrates how cultural re/sources, such as ‘clean’, ‘safe’, ‘green’ New Zealand, are being drawn upon to realise value and to reposition New Zealand in a highly competitive market.

    Similarly Europe (see this report destination-europe.pdf) has been casting around for an identifiable ‘brand’ to market itself as a significant player with an identifiable ‘product’ in the global higher education market. This means finding a combination of distinctive elements that enable the country or region to position themselves in relation to the competition.

    The ‘Malaysian Education’ brand draws on deep cultural, religious and political resonances to promote its product – one that emphasizes lifestyle, culture and quality of education. This includes the value to be gained from its unique multicultural population of Malay, Indian and Chinese; its Islamic religion; and its experience of colonialism. Despite the contradictions inherent in this new form of neo-colonialism, these cultural values and symbols are being (effectively?) mobilized to open up the African, Arab, Chinese and Indonesian markets.

    Malaysia’s story demonstrates the high level of fluidity in globalising the higher education market. It requires players to be highly competitive, constantly utilize intelligence, be attentive to strategies as to how to open new markets, and have a way of representing the sector as an attractive and unique brand.

    Will Malaysia leave behind its ’emerging contender’ crown and don the mantle of a major player in the region? Much depends clearly on what the other players in the region do – Singapore, China and Australia. Let’s see what 2010 reveals.

    Susan Robertson

    Is 2008 a watershed for Europe’s ‘Lisbon Agenda’?

    It’s all really good news for the EC, according to the report European Growth and Jobs Monitor: Indicators of Success in the Knowledge Economy 2008 released today by Allianz SE, one of Europe’s leading financial service providers and the Brussels-based think tank The Lisbon Council. Indeed the report goes on to claim that 2008 marks a watershed for Europe (see our earlier report on the EC’s assessment of Lisbon in 2007). When some parts of the world are reeling from more and more bad news stories about economic slow-downs and rising debt, this claim surely needs to be looked at more closely.

    According to Allianz SE, despite earlier set backs and significant policy reorientations and renovations (see Kok Review 2004) as a consequence since 2005, the Lisbon strategy is now believed to be achieving its goals.

    The report notes:

    …at the time of writing, Europe outpaces the United States in economic growth. And, for the first time in more than 10 years, productivity is growing faster on a quarterly average basis than in the US – an intriguing trend which, if it proves sustainable, could signal a real turning point in Europe’s decade long effort to establish itself as truly “the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world”, as the original Lisbon Agenda proposed. In other words… …Lisbon is working.

    jobs-abd-growth.jpg

    However as Financial Times reporter, Tony Barber, notes:

    It sounds almost too good to be true. The report’s tone would certainly surprise many political leaders and businessmen in the US and Asia, where Europe is often portrayed as a continent in relative economic decline. In fact, when you read the Lisbon Council report in full, you begin to suspect that its real message is that the European economy, though strong in many respects, has obvious weaknesses as well. For example, on research and development spending, there has been “limited progress” and “most countries have a lot of catching up to do”.

    jobs-and-growth-then-now.jpg

    Looked at more closely, it is clear this up-beat report hides what might be regarded as more disturbing facts.

    For instance, spending on R&D, one of the big targets for Europe in realizing a knowledge-based economy, is still a long way off target. Add to this that a number of education systems in Europe are also off target with high-drop out rates of young learners whilst in countries like Germany only about one-fifth of 15-year-olds plan to go on to university and the picture becomes less rosy.

    Leaving aside for the moment the contentious matter of whether greater levels of participation in higher education automatically lead to a knowledge-based economy, it is evident that there are several ways of reading this ‘good news’.

    As we can see from the table of current ranking and one year ago, it is not so much a question of Lisbon now being realised–if we view this as a regional strategy, but some economies across Europe currently performing much stronger than others.

    In other words, we are seeing the effects of the strong performance of some countries (Denmark, Finland, Ireland and Sweden) and the weak performance of others, especially Italy.

    What is certain from the report is that higher education will continue to be a center piece of European policy and that the 2007 agenda – to keep up the pace of change – is likely to continue to ‘shake up’ the sector in continuing radical ways.

    Susan Robertson

     

    The ‘European Quality Assurance Register’ for higher education: from networks to hierarchy?

    Quality assurance has been an important global dialogue, with quality assurance agencies embedded in the fabric of the global higher education landscape. These agencies are mostly made up of a network of nationally-located institutions, for example the Nordic Quality Assurance Network in Higher Education, or the US-based Council for Higher Education Accrediation.

    Since the early 1990s, we have seen the development of regional and global networks of agencies, for instance the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education, and the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education which in 2007 boasted full membership from 136 organizations from 74 countries. Such networks both drive and produce processes of globalization and regionalization.

    eqr-3.jpg

    The emergence of ‘registers’–of the kind announced today with the launch of the European Quality Assurance Register (EQAR) by the E4 Group(ESU, The European University Association – EUA, The European Association of Institutions in Higher Education – EURASHE, The European Network of Quality Assurance Agencies – ENQA) – signals a rather different kind of ‘globalising’ development in the sector. In short we might see it as a move from a network of agencies to a register that acts to regulate the sector. It also signals a further development in the creation of a European higher education industry.

    So, what will the EQAR to do? According to EQAR, its role is to

    …provide clear and reliable information on the quality assurance agencies (QAAs) operating in Europe: this is a list of agencies that substantially comply with the European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance (ESG) as adopted by the European ministers of higher education in Bergen 2005.

    The Register is expected to:

    • promote student mobility by providing a basis for the increase of trust among higher education institutions;
    • reduce opportunities for “accreditation mills” to gain credibility;
    • provide a basis for governments to authorize higher educations institutions to choose any agency from the Register, if that is compatible with national arrangements;
    • provide a means for higher education institutions to choose between different agencies, if that is compatible with national arrangements; and
    • serve as an instrument to improve the quality of education.

    eqr-2.jpg

    All Quality Assurance Agencies that comply with the European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance will feature on the register, with compliance secured through an external review process.

    There will also be a Register Committee – an independent body comprising of 11 quality assurance experts, nominated by European stakeholder organisations. This committee will decide on the inclusion of the quality assurance agencies. The EQAR association, that operates the Register, will be managed by an Executive Board, composed of E4 representatives, and a Secretariat.

    The ‘register’ not only formalises and institutionalises a new layer of quality assurance, but it generates a regulatory hierarchy over and above other public and private regulatory agencies. It also is intended to ensure the development of a European higher education industry with the stamp of regulatory approval to provide important information in the global marketplace.

    Susan Robertson

    Has higher education become a victim of its own propaganda?

    eh.jpgEditor’s note: today’s guest entry was kindly written by Ellen Hazelkorn, Director, and Dean of the Faculty of Applied Arts, and Director, Higher Education Policy Research Unit (HEPRU), Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland. She also works with the OECD’s Programme for Institutional Management of Higher Education (IMHE). Her entry should be read in conjunction with some of our recent entries on the linkages and tensions between the Bologna Process and the Lisbon Strategy, the role of foundations and endowments in facilitating innovative research yet also heightening resource inequities, as well as the ever present benchmarking and ranking debates.

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    councilpr.jpgThe recent Council of the European Union’s statement on the role of higher education is another in a long list of statements from the EU, national governments, the OECD, UNESCO, etc., proclaiming the importance of higher education (HE) to/for economic development. While HE has long yearned for the time in which it would head the policy agenda, and be rewarded with vast sums of public investment, it may not have realised that increased funding would be accompanied with calls for greater accountability and scrutiny, pressure for value-for-money, and organisational and governance reform. Many critics cite these developments as changing the fundamentals of higher education. Has higher education become the victim of its own propaganda?

    At a recent conference in Brussels a representative from the EU reflected on this paradox. The Lisbon Strategy identified a future in which Europe would be a/the leader of the global knowledge economy. But when the statistics were reviewed, there was a wide gap between vision and reality. The Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities, which has become the gold standard of worldwide HE rankings, has identified too few European universities among the top 100. This was, he said, a serious problem and blow to the European strategy. Change is required, urgently.

    sciencespo.jpgUniversity rankings are, whether we like it or not, beginning to influence the behaviour of higher education institutions and higher education policy because they arguably provide a snap-shot of competition within the global knowledge industrial sector (see E. Hazelkorn, Higher Education Management and Policy, 19:2, and forthcoming Higher Education Policy, 2008). Denmark and France have introduced new legislation to encourage mergers or the formation of ‘pôles’ to enhance critical mass and visibility, while Germany and the UK are using national research rankings or teaching/learning evaluations as a ‘market’ mechanism to effect change. Others, like Germany, Denmark and Ireland, are enforcing changes in institutional governance, replacing elected rectors with corporate CEO-type leadership. Performance funding is a feature everywhere. Even the European Research Council’s method of ‘empowering’ (funding) the researcher rather than the institution is likely to fuel institutional competition.

    In response, universities and other HEIs are having to look more strategically at the way they conduct their business, organise their affairs, and the quality of their various ‘products’, e.g., educational programming and research. In return for increased autonomy, governments want more accountability; in return for more funding, governments want more income-generation; in return for greater support for research, governments want to identify ‘winners’; and in return for valuing HE’s contribution to society, governments want measurable outputs (see, for example, this call for an “ombudsman” for higher education in Ireland).

    European governments are moving from an egalitarian approach – where all institutions are broadly equal in status and quality – to one in which excellence is promoted through elite institutions, differentiation is encouraged through competitive funding, public accountability is driven by performance measurements or institutional contacts, and student fees are a reflection of consumer buoyancy.

    But neither the financial costs nor implications of this strategy – for both governments and institutions – have been thought through. The German government has invested €1.9b over five years in the Excellence Initiative but this sum pales into insignificance compared with claims that a single ‘world class’ university is a $1b – $1.5b annual operation, plus $500m with a medical school, or with other national investment strategies, e.g., China’s $20b ‘211 Project’ or Korea’s $1.2b ‘Brain 21’ programme, or with the fund-raising capabilities of US universities (‘Updates on Billion-Dollar Campaigns at 31 Universities’; ‘Foundations, endowments and higher education: Europe ruminates while the USA stratifies‘).

    Given public and policy disdain for increased taxation, if European governments wish to compete in this environment, which policy objectives will be sacrificed? Is the rush to establish ‘world-class’ European universities hiding a growing gap between private and public, research and teaching, elite and mass education? Evidence from Ireland suggests that despite efforts to retain a ‘binary’ system, students are fleeing from less endowed, less prestigious institutes of technology in favour of ‘universities’. At one stage, the UK government promoted the idea of concentrating research activity in a few select institutions/centres until critics, notably the Lambert report and more recently the OECD, argued that regionality does matter.

    Europeans are keen to establish a ‘world class’ HE system which can compete with the best US universities. But it is clear that such efforts are being undertaken without a full understanding of the implications, intended and unintended.

    Ellen Hazelkorn

    Overseas campuses: American views and photographs

    cmumap.jpgThe Sunday New York Times published a general overview (‘Universities rush to set up outposts abroad’) today regarding the phenomenon of overseas campuses. This article (the first of a series this week – see the bottom of this entry for links to all of the articles when they have been published) focuses on US campuses in the Middle East, especially universities that have ‘home’ bases in New York (it is the New York Times after all!), Pittsburgh and Washington DC, though reference is made to developments in other parts of the world. An explicit US-centric view is developed in the article.

    The article is particularly worth perusing for the accompanying slideshow of campuses including Carnegie Mellon in Qatar, New York Institute of Technology Abu Dhabi, Texas A&M University at Qatar, Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar, and George Mason University – Ras Al Khaimah Campus, as well as the teaching rooms of the University of Washington’s certificate programs in Abu Dhabi.

    klec.jpgThis story, on top of news last week that Royal Holloway, University of London, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Kuala Lumpur Education City (KLEC) to establish the University of London’s first overseas campus by 2011, is a reminder that venturing abroad is an internationalization option more and more universities are deliberating about.

    With opportunity comes confusion, this said. Some universities are simply overwhelmed with options, as the University of Washington (in Seattle) outlined in the article:

    The demand from overseas is huge. At the University of Washington, the administrator in charge of overseas programs said she received about a proposal a week. “It’s almost like spam,” said the official, Susan Jeffords, whose position as vice provost for global affairs was created just two years ago.

    And yet the article implies, as does the American Council on Education’s report Venturing Abroad: Delivering US Degrees Through Overseas Campuses and Programs (2007), that the opportunity/risk/implication calculus is only in the early stages of a sophisticated conceptualisation. Indeed our own research leads us to believe that the calculus is remarkably unsystematic with universities incrementally ad-hocing it through the deliberative process. Little systematic information is available regarding how to plan the planning process, optional models for overseas campuses, legal innovations (e.g., regarding the protection of academic freedom), best and worse cases, and so on.

    Some universities have also not recognized the importance of closely relating core principles and objectives to the idea of accepting or rejecting an overture to open an overseas campus. Interestingly, one university that has is the University of Pennsylvania, and their stance on overseas campuses is an unequivocal no. In the New York Times article Amy Gutmann, president of Penn, is quoted as saying “the downside is lower than the upside is high” especially because the:

    risk is that we couldn’t deliver the same quality education that we do here, and that it would mean diluting our faculty strength at home.

    New York University (NYU), also the focus of some attention in the article, is clear that their network university model simply requires campuses in other countries; an issue we discussed in some detail in our entry on NYU Abu Dhabi.

    Interestingly, both NYU and Penn are active in Singapore. NYU has developed one independent arts school (the Tisch School of the Arts Asia), while Penn is present via intellectual engagement (and some associated secondment activities) with key Singapore-based actors shaping the development of a new university (Singapore Management University) . Thus Penn’s clear principle is to deeply internationalize (including by bringing Penn’s intellectual power to the development of new campuses in countries like India and Singapore), but in a manner than strengthens their one and only campus while concurrently reducing financial and brand name risk.

    The outcomes that we read about in such articles, and that we see in such photographs, are dependent upon a suitable mesh between the principles guiding universities as they seek to internationalize, and the territorially-specific development objectives of host governments. One of these territorial objectives is capacity building, an issue we will explore in some detail over the next several months. Now back to those Sunday papers…

    Kris Olds

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    11 February Update:

    Charles Thorpe, dean of Carnegie Mellon in Qatar responded to a selection of 57 questions submitted by New York Times readers at this site. His responses were posted here.

    The second article in the series (‘In Oil-Rich Mideast, Shades of the Ivy League’) was published in the New York Times. This article focuses on the student experience in overseas campuses in the Middle East. Readers of the article have been submitting questions here.

    Bologna meets Russia: a case of ‘identity crisis’ over Europe?

    patricialeon.jpg Editor’s note: This entry has kindly been prepared by Patricia Leon, Department of Politics, International and Policy Studies (PIPS), University of Surrey, UK. The entry is the first contribution in a new series in 2008 that GlobalHigherEd will be running on the Bologna Process reforms in European higher education. Patricia is doing a PhD on the effects of globalisation on Russian higher education. She is concentrating on Putin’s latest reforms of higher education, which include its ‘Europeanisation’, and the clash with the Soviet-style system. A former journalist, Patricia worked for many years in various capacities at The Times Higher Education Supplement, among other publications. Her interest is Russia stems from years spent in Cuba working for a news agency and a current affairs magazine. [Editor -Susan Robertson]

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    Russia is the quintessential Eurasian superpower yet in 2003 the former Communist state joined the Bologna process, which aims to create a European higher education area. Since then the Putin government has gradually but firmly moved universities towards harmonization with their European counterparts in matters such as degree structure, standards and comparability, credit transfer systems, quality assurance, lifelong learning strategies, and student/academic mobility and exchange, particularly in research.

    Why has Russia, with borders that stretch from the Baltic to the Pacific, decided to throw in its lot with Europe on higher education? The answer is both simple and complex. At a geopolitical level, European higher education is in direct competition with the United States, the nemesis of the Russian-dominated former Soviet Union. But Europe also has other competitors, such as Australia and Canada. Where do they fit in?

    The reality is that Europe is Russia’s major trading partner despite the federation’s initial flirtation with the US following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The trauma of transition to a market economy under Yeltsin tarnished the image of the US system for many Russians.

    Another likely answer is the historic affinity of Russian elites with Europe. The origins of Russian higher education lie in mercantile capitalism and the European Enlightenment. As Russia under the czars emerged as a nation state and imperialist power, it looked westwards for trade, industry and ideas while expanding frontiers eastwards. The first universities were founded.

    It is ironic that the seeds of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution were sown in the debates about society and the individual that obsessed Enlightenment thinkers. That revolution and founding of the Soviet Union emphasized the non-European, or Eastern, aspect of Russian identity, historically present in its religious orthodoxy and pan-Slavism.

    Citizens from all 15 Soviet republics were educated under a standardized system of higher education. The principles underlying all education were based on a messianic belief – present in orthodoxy where Moscow is seen as the Third Rome – that the Soviet Union was the vanguard for a worldwide conversion to communism. Soviet society was creating new man (and woman).

    The effect of the collapse of such idealized view of Soviet society on the Russian psyche should not be underestimated, especially now that the motives that drove “new” capitalist Russia towards Europe post-1991 are changing. Russia’s economy is booming and confidence growing on the basis of country’s huge energy and natural mineral wealth.

    And what of the common history with the former Soviet republics, many of which are members of the Commonwealth of Independent States? Cesar De Prado Yepes (2006:9) suggests that the renewed vigour with which Russia under Putin has pursued bilateral agreements within the CIS might even create another higher education regional process in the Eurasian landmass.

    The entry and adherence of Russia to the Bologna process, therefore, is intriguing given the pull of geography, history, politics and economic interests. The fact is that Bologna dovetails nicely into the federal government’s ten-year reform plan for the “modernization” of education to improve Russia’s competitive advantage.

    In the preface to the 2004 UNDP report on Russia, Andrei Fursenko, the education and science minister, wrote:

    Russia must leverage its unique cultural and scientific assets to remain a clear player in the global market. Our accomplishments should be made available to all, paying the way for Russia’s full integration into the world community.

    One major thrust of the modernization project is to reassert government control over higher education, particularly through funding mechanisms. Under Yeltsin, universities were starved of public funds and had to fend for themselves. This gave universities greater autonomy but it led to unbridled expansion of both public and private sector provision, which affected student access, course quality and efficiency.

    The modernization reforms include:

    • establishing for the first time a national state school-leaving examination that doubles as an entrance qualification for higher education;
    • the introduction of student vouchers to pay for degree courses; tighter quality assurance through the use of licensing to squeeze out substandard institutions;
    • the creation of a state-funded super league of universities; and
    • the whole-scale transition by 2010 to a two-tier degree structure and credit transfer system comparable to other Bologna signatories, thus encouraging greater collaboration and exchange of staff and students.

    The degree reform, which comes into effect in September 2008, rankles traditionalists. They believe that a shorter three or four-year bachelors is a devalued degree compared with the five-year “Soviet” degree, which incorporated a professional qualification for the workplace. But Bologna supporters, such as Yaroslav Kuzminov, rector of the Higher School of Economics, argue that it is a cost-effective way for the state to educate more students. The government is aiming to cover 95 per cent of education costs by 2010.

    Mobility and exchange with Bologna signatories may suffer because of lack of funding, visa problems and poor infrastructure on the Russian side. Although an increasing number of Russians study abroad, the majority of the 200,000 overseas students in Russia come from former Soviet states in the East or developing countries.

    Knowledge exchange with Europe under the Lisbon strategy may also prove tricky as much Russian research is conducted under the auspices of the Russian (former Soviet) Academy of Science. Although state-funded, the academy operates with relative autonomy and comprises 400 affiliated institutes that employ 220,000 people. The education ministry is struggling to assert state control over the 1,200 elected academicians.

    The assertive role of the state under Putin has proved crucial to forcing through radical reforms. Putin, whose presidency ends in March 2008, saw stability as what most people wanted after the 1990s. The growth of state control over the economy and the media, as well as a clampdown on opposition, has led to accusations that Putin and his supporters are anti-democratic and turning the clock back to Soviet times. The question is whether more state funding and regulation will stifle academic freedom and autonomy or provide the wherewithal for Russia to play a greater role in global higher education.

    Patricia Leon

    The globally engaged institution: insights via the American Council on Education

    Editor’s note: GlobalHigherEd has been inviting select universities (e.g., the University of Warwick), associations, and agencies to profile how they are attempting to understand, navigate through, and therefore help construct, the emerging global higher education landscape. We have also focused our own eyes on institutional strategy from time to time (e.g., see Lily Kong’s very popular entry on international consortia). Today’s guest entry has been kindly developed by Jill Wisniewski, Program Associate, Center for International Initiatives, American Council on Education (ACE). The entry profiles ACE’s Leadership Network on International Education, an annual forum for chief academic officers and presidents to discuss issues and trends in international higher education. The Leadership Network is hosted by the Center for International Initiatives at ACE and is open to all ACE members.
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    aceii.jpgHow do institutional leaders navigate the increasingly complex world of global partnerships, joint degrees, and branch campuses? During the 2007 annual meeting of the Leadership Network on International Education, more than 130 institution presidents and provosts discussed the intricacies of partnering with institutions and organizations around the globe. The expanding international opportunities open to institutions require leaders to make sound decisions about how to have a global presence, whether or not to partner, and with whom; how to develop a strategy to pursue global connectivity; and how to ensure quality and assess potential benefits and risks. The meeting focused on the strategic decisions institutional leaders must make in developing a strategy for global engagement.

    In a session on U.S. campuses and degree programs delivered abroad, panelists described their experiences and lessons learned in providing a U.S. education for students in their home countries. The remarks of John A. Elliott, dean of the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College, The City University of New York; Jim Baker, vice president for research and economic development, Missouri State University; and Mark Kamlet, provost, Carnegie Mellon University (PA), illustrated that while some issues are country-specific, there are common strategic concerns. Among them are questions of alignment with mission, financial and reputation risk, and the cultural and legal intricacies of working in another country.

    There was consensus among panelists that presidents and provosts must seriously consider the institution’s strategic mission before making a commitment to engage in the development of a branch campus or degree program abroad. The question, “why are we engaging in this partnership?” should be among the first asked by institutional leaders. Institutional leaders may answer the “why” question differently, but motivations that were repeated include the education of globally competent students, benefits to the sending institution and the host country, and enhancing mobility of students, faculty, and staff. Panelists stressed that branch campus agreements should not be entered into for perceived financial or reputational benefit, but rather that an institution should have a strategic mission grounded in the value added to students and society.

    The speakers also described the challenges of providing degree programs abroad. The legal issues alone can create major hurdles. Balancing foreign government regulations with the demands of US laws can be challenging in unforeseen ways. Difficult questions include: What are the tax implications of working in a foreign country? Is there a financial framework in place to process tuition and other payments on the home campus? What are the capacities of US institutions to implement US regulations (such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements) in a foreign country? These legal complexities arise within the context of foreign cultural practices, and seemingly simple decisions and transactions can produce unanticipated consequences. The panelists suggested that institutional leaders need to decide which policies and practices are non-negotiable, and be able to think creatively to arrive at mutually acceptable solutions.

    Other issues that were discussed include quality assurance concerns, faculty participation, and board and administration support. All of the panelists agreed that in order to maintain quality control over programs, the institution must retain control over the curriculum. Indeed, many partnership arrangements have the actual curriculum spelled out and included in the agreements or Memorandum of Understandings (MOU’s) with partner organizations. Panelists also shared best practices in increasing faculty involvement. Some suggestions included:

    • Have faculty spend time on the home campus to maintain ties between the home and branch campus
    • Have research facilities abroad and incentives to conduct research there
    • Make the location and amenities appealing for faculty: provide “high end” living and cultural experiences
    • Build international experience into promotion and tenure guidelines.

    One panelist described the extensive discussions with the board surrounding the decision to authorize the establishment of a branch campus. The board was quite skeptical and asked for detailed information and plans. Among the suggestions for garnering and maintaining board support were:

    • Help the board feel invested in the campus by describing in detail the potential benefits for students, faculty and staff
    • If possible, invite Board members to do a site visit to the branch campus location.

    This day-long meeting only scratched the surface in describing the benefits, problems, pitfalls, and lessons learned in international engagement. The continuation of annual forums such as the Leadership Network can help advance the field in supplying information and best practices to institutional leaders looking to expand global partnerships.

    Jill Wisniewski, Program Associate, Center for International Initiatives, American Council on Education. For more information on the Leadership Network, please contact <jill_wisniewski@ace.nche.edu>.

    OECD ministers meet in January to discuss possible evaluation of “outcomes” of higher education

    Further to our last entry on this issue, and a 15 November 2007 story in The Economist, here is an official OECD summary of the Informal OECD Ministerial Meeting on evaluating the outcomes of Higher Education, Tokyo, 11-12 January 2008.  The meetings relate to the perception, in the OECD and its member governments, of an “increasingly significant role of higher education as a driver of economic growth and the pressing need for better ways to value and develop higher education and to respond to the needs of the knowledge society”.

    Policy for higher education in a changing world: is Malaysia’s higher education policy maturing or just fashionable?

    malaysiaplancover.jpgIn many developing countries, and Malaysia is no exception, the national government has seen fit to steer higher education policy in a direction that is in the ‘national interest’. This notion of ‘national interest’ is best exemplified by the changing relationship between the state, higher education institutions and the market. We would like to think that after independence in 1957 the state facilitated the growth of universities appropriate to both national and regional circumstances at that time. While serving the ‘nation interest’ public universities were also pursuing objectives that are some semblance of the “idea of a university” right up to the late eighties. However, during the 1990s, the government began to intervene in the higher education system and there were many policy changes that higher educational institutions have found to be increasingly complex and unmanageable. We would like to assume that these changes, as explicitly outlined in the National Higher Education Strategic Plan 2020 and detailed out in the National Higher Education Action Plan, 2007-2010, are Malaysia’s responses to fast changing global landscape of higher education and the rise of the ‘Asian Century’.

    We need to explicate higher education policy changes in Malaysia and then answer one specific question: are these changes indicative of a higher education policy that is going through a maturing process or are these changes nothing more than an attempt to be current and fashionable in the light of neo-liberalism tendency and its associated new public management practises, which is widespread in the developed world. The recently released World Bank Report on higher education in Malaysia has a profound impact on the way higher education policy is being framed in Malaysia.

    Using both neo-liberalism model/new public management concepts and state-centric model of higher education as analytical framework to analyse the plans documents, we conclude that Malaysia’s higher education policy has characteristics of both neo-liberal and state-centric models. Many new public management concepts and ideas are adopted to translate policy to actions, without meaningful or significant ‘retreat of the state”, which is typical of neo-liberalism. Arguably, Malaysia is still holding on to the state-centric model of higher education (because of the ‘nation interest’) but would like also to ‘embrace’ fashionable European and American models. Reports from the World Bank on neo-liberalism, as well as successful examples of the USA, UK and Australia are too attractive for Malaysia to ignore. Thus, Malaysia’s higher education policy is clearly an attempt to be current and fashionable to face the new challenges in higher education based on the same state-centric approach. Time will tell whether this approach will work.

    We are tempted to conclude that, following Readings’ (1996) The University in Ruins, the likely scenario for Malaysia is as follows:

    historically the integrity of the modern University has been linked to the nation-state, which it has served by promoting and protecting the idea of a national culture…now the nation-state is in decline, and national culture no longer needs to be either promoted or protected. Increasingly, universities are turning into transnational corporations, and the idea of culture is being replaced by the discourse of ‘excellence’.

    And in relation to the two blueprints on Malaysian higher education, Jermadi and Disney writing in the latest issue of Prospect Malaysia (a higher magazine in Malaysia) caution us as follows:

    Those with long and cynical memories will recall numerous previous strategies; those who glance at the more recent past will find blueprints and studies upon which the ink is barely dry. So what’s new about these recent proposals? Are they necessary, are they original, and are they workable? The short answers to these questions are: ‘yes, no, and yes’.

    Morshidi Sirat