The International Initiatives of Universities – A Taxonomy of Modes of Engagement and Institutional Logics

Editor’s note:  the guest entry below was kindly developed by Richard J. Edelstein and John Aubrey Douglass, Center for Studies in Higher Education (CSHE) – University of California, Berkeley. Richard Edelstein is a Research Associate at CSHE and Principal at Global University Concepts. John Douglass is Senior Research Fellow at CSHE.  Their entry is based upon a longer paper recently published in CSHE’s Research and Occasional Paper Series (ROPS), which is available here. Please refer to the original working paper for all associated references. This ROPS contribution is part of the Center’s Research Universities Going Global research project.

Today’s entry should be situated in the context of other informative attempts to develop an understanding of the modes and logics of internationalization — see, in particular, Gabriel Hawawini’s 2011 working paper ‘The Internationalization of Higher Education Institutions: A Critical Review and a Radical Proposal,’ NAFSA’s work on ‘comprehensive internationalization,’ and the Cornell-specific (but very useful) ‘Report from the Task Force on Internationalization’ (Oct 2012).  Kris Olds

ps: link here for the Inside Higher Ed version of this article, which is more easily formatted for printing.

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Like entrepreneurs in other sectors of our modern economy, many universities are in a rush to fill a relatively new and expanding market. Despite the significant increase in the number and type of international activities—from branch campuses, to MOOCs, and aggressive international student recruitment—many efforts appear to be launched without a clear idea of best practices or how specific activities might be productive and meaningful for a particular institution.

As part of a larger project based at the Center for Studies in Higher Education at the University of California, Berkeley, we have dubbed Research Universities Going Global (or RUGG), we offer a starting point for an analytical look at why and how, and at what cost, universities are engaging in an ever expanding variety of international ventures.

Here we briefly describe and categorize a range of actions and logics that are associated with efforts to respond to globalization and to develop the international dimensions of universities – a taxonomy of institutional actions that we hope to use and compliment by a series of case studies.  What are the reasons and methods universities have chosen to become more globally active; how might we assess success or failure? What are the actual outcomes for nation-states that invite partnerships, and often provide significant initial financial support, on the quality and output of their higher education systems, on their labor markets, on their long-term economic development plans.

These are big and difficult questions that, thus far, have not been adequately studied. We hope to explore the answers to these questions and, via this taxonomy, promote others to study.

The Importance of Context

Three salient contextual variables help guide, inform, and condition the taxonomy of international engagement outlined in this article:

  • The Academic Discipline
  • The Level of Academic Study (e.g. 1st/undergraduate degree versus post-graduate degree)
  • Institutional Prestige Hierarchy

Almost irrespective of the problem or issue under consideration, there is significant variability in the effects or outcomes when we consider the results in the particular context of individual disciplines or fields. The scholarly work, research methods, and organizational culture of the physics department are quite distinct from what is found in the economics department, the law school or the department of classics (Belcher 1989).

Level of study, course, or program also conditions how different problems are addressed. For example, study abroad and various mobility and exchange initiatives take on very different forms, durations, and pedagogies in an undergraduate/first-degree engineering program when compared with the same level of program in a foreign language or psychology department. Graduate students and faculty often have entirely different approaches to mobility issues because of greater individualization of instruction and research imperatives.

A final contextual variable worthy of attention is the prestige hierarchy. Not all colleges and universities are created equal and, like most social institutions, they compete with each other to achieve a high status or social value in society. More prestigious institutions, large or small, public or private, have certain advantages when it comes to advancing their mission and objectives. This appears to be true for international endeavors as well where some of the most active and successful institutions are prestigious and highly visible on global scale.

Historical Patterns and Contemporary Tensions

We have taken a distinctly sociological perspective that views the university as a social organization with distinct histories, structures, values, norms, traditions, and symbols embedded in the culture and that condition organizational behavior over time.

The research and writings of Burton Clark continues to shed light on what it is about the university that makes it distinct and exceptional in many respects. One of the key “truths” that Clark continually stressed in his work is that universities are inherently more decentralized and “bottom heavy” than other organizations such as business firms and most government bureaucracies (Clark 1983). Significant authority, both formal and informal, rests with individual faculty members and with departments, schools, and colleges. Institutional change is, to a large extent, dependent on the capacity of leadership to muster support from the ranks of faculty who are, in the end, the final arbiters of how teaching and learning occur and are the source of scholarship and scientific research, the two primordial functions of universities in society.

More recent research and publications by Georg Krücken also suggest that historically embedded patterns of organization and governance resist fundamental change and often marginally adapt themselves to evolving conditions of the larger environment and international trends and norms. Krucken shows, for example, how professors in Germany have largely retained their authority over academic policies in spite of the emergence of a larger administrative class and hierarchy (Krücken 2011, 2013 forthcoming).

John Aubrey Douglass has considered recent changes in research university organization that appear to take on forms of university devolution with increased fragmentation of the structure and the values that have historically held the university community together (Douglass 2012). Trends toward treating various schools, centers, and departments as profit centers with greater managerial autonomy or privatization options (often linked to neo-liberal and market-oriented management philosophies) suggest that changes in university organization and governance will make it increasingly difficult for university leaders to shape institution-wide strategies and policies that depend upon a robust set of shared values, beliefs and institutional loyalty. International strategies and initiatives become even more challenging should these trends prove to be persistent over time.

While there may have been some significant changes driven by technology, political demands, and the nature of teaching and research that have made inroads into the all-encompassing authority of faculty, it is difficult to imagine significant institutional change in universities that does not come with the advice and consent of individual faculty members.

Calls for a more entrepreneurial and economically relevant university and increasing tendencies toward adopting management practices and decision criteria from business are too significant and numerous to ignore. Nonetheless, efforts to embark on projects of substantial change often fail when they are implemented in a top-down and centralized decision structure.

In the end, most meaningful and successful change in the university occurs when the decentralized nature of the organization and the significant formal and informal authority of faculty is recognized and incorporated into the decision process in real and meaningful ways.

This essay and its presentation of clusters of activities, modes of engagement and institutional logics focuses wholly on the perspective of the individual institution and offers an alternative set of concepts and categories to describe and analyze institutional behavior and change. The purpose is to build on previous efforts and contribute a meaningful and relevant approach to thinking about issues and problems faced by university leaders as they make strategic choices about which international and global policies, programs, and relationships they pursue.

Clusters and Modes of Engagement

Figure 1The taxonomy of actions and logics is conceptualized as a list of modes of engagement that can be organized into seven clusters of activity – see Figure 1. Clusters include individual faculty initiatives; the management of institutional demography; mobility initiatives; curricular and pedagogical change; transnational institutional engagements; network building; and campus culture, ethos, and leadership. Within our larger paper, we describe these various clusters and modes. Here is an example of how we portray Strategic Alliances:

Alliances can be thought of as partnerships that evolve into more strategic and intensive collaborations across a numerous activities or functions. Shared faculty, student mobility, shared alumni bases, joint courses and degrees, joint research, and a common branding or marketing strategy are common elements of a strategic alliance.

There are few examples of successful strategic alliances. This is probably due to the challenges of developing partnerships where the benefits of greater collaboration or integration outweigh the costs or risks of potential problems. Concerns about a weakening of institutional identity, legal issues such as intellectual property rights, financial regulations, liability problems and governance systems, alumni relations issues, faculty and staff compensation and benefits issues, etc. must be resolved. Differences in institutional traditions and culture are often the most difficult to overcome. For all of the allusions to the “global university” and emergence of a global market for higher education, universities are still firmly embedded in nation states, national cultures, and institutional traditions that retain significant influence over how and under what circumstances they can change and engage in relationships with institutions and nations outside their home base.

There are a few examples of successful partnerships that have grown in intensity and breadth and have sustained themselves over time sufficiently to be considered alliances. These alliances, however, are limited to one major field or to a set of mostly natural sciences and engineering disciplines:

  • INSEAD-Wharton Alliance – Launched in 2001, the Alliance between the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania and INSEAD Business School in France and Singapore combines the resources of two world leaders in management education to deliver top-quality company-specific and open-enrolment programs to executives across four dedicated campuses: Inseam’s in Fontainebleau (France), and Singapore and Wharton’s US campuses in Philadelphia and San Francisco.

Renewed for a further four years in 2008, the Alliance is an opportunity for MBA and PhD students to study across three continents. It also brings together the large and active alumni communities of both schools. The INSEAD-Wharton Centre for Global Research & Education fosters deep collaborative relationships across the two schools and encourages exchange of faculty and doctoral students. See http://about.insead.edu/partnerships/wharton_alliance.cfm.

  • Singapore-MIT Alliance (Agreement between MIT and the government of Singapore) –
    MIT and its faculty have been engaged with Singapore for decades. The first large-scale institutional collaboration, the Singapore-MIT Alliance, was launched in 1997. Since then MIT and Singapore have engaged in on-going collaborations in research, education and innovation. The relationship has yielded hundreds of joint research publications, scores of joint research collaborations and curricular and research innovation at MIT and in Singapore. The following outlines a number of the joint projects that have come out of this alliance:

–      Singapore-MIT Alliance. Founded in 1998, the Singapore-MIT Alliance is an innovative engineering and life science educational and research collaboration among three leading research universities in the world: the National University of Singapore (NUS), the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

–      Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab. The Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab, is a collaboration between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the government of Singapore, was created to explore new directions for the development of games as a medium. GAMBIT sets itself apart by emphasizing the creation of video game prototypes to demonstrate our research as a complement to traditional academic publishing.

–      Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) Centre. The Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) Centre is a major new research enterprise established by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in partnership with the National Research Foundation of Singapore (NRF). The SMART Centre serves as an intellectual hub for research interactions between MIT and Singapore at the frontiers of science and technology.

–      Singapore University of Technology and Design Partnership. On January 25, 2010, MIT signed a formal agreement to help launch Singapore’s new publicly funded university, Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). MIT faculty will help develop new curricula and conduct major joint research projects, as well as assist with early deployment, mentoring, and career development programs. MIT President Susan Hockfield said of the collaboration, “It will give MIT new opportunities to push the boundaries of design research. MIT is fully committed to helping SUTD achieve its distinctive vision.” See http://global.mit.edu/index.php/initiatives/singapore/projects/

Institutional Logics

Figure 2Why do universities embark on new projects and activities that engage the institution outside of its national boundaries? What motivates individuals and their institutions to include transnational relations among their core strategic interests and concerns when considering the future path for success? Why are more foreign students and faculty recruited and why are curricula and research agendas more international and global in scope? These trends undoubtedly have multiple and complex causes. We outline a set of nine Institutional Logics outlined in Figure 2.

Again, in our attempt at brevity, we offer here our discussion of only one of the Logics: Market Access and Regional Integration Logics.

Recently, the Dean of Yale School of Management announced a new international strategy to create a network of partner business schools in countries with rapid economic growth and new business investments. These relationships, it is hoped, will provide opportunities for students and faculty to engage with their international counterparts to create professional networks that provide learning and research experiences as well as potential business opportunities in the future (Korn 2012).

The global economy is increasingly linked to emergent economies such as Brazil, Russia, India, and China (sometimes referred to as the “BRICs” in the US). It is not surprising that numerous universities in Europe and North America appear to have targeted these countries as high-priority locations for the development of relationships, activities, and programs. The logic seems to be that these countries will increasingly be influential in world affairs and, thus, establishing relations with local institutions and professional peers will create long-term benefits for attracting students and faculty as well as pursuing research agendas and fund raising opportunities.

In Europe, the Bologna reforms, and other initiatives that encourage greater integration of educational and research systems, stimulated the creation of numerous partnerships, alliances, consortia, and networks of universities between and among European institutions. Bologna’s creation of common degree structures and common academic credit and records systems go a long way towards the creation of a region-wide education space that can contribute to the construction of the regional economy as well as political and social networks that cross national boundaries. Recent efforts to develop common quality, accreditation, qualification and professional licensing standards are also linked to a desire for further integration of national systems and the creation of greater mobility in labor markets. The logic of regional and transnational integration coming out of Bologna appears to underpin many of the international projects and initiatives of European universities across a broad range of countries.

Recent European Union investments and policies in support of the Erasmus Mundus Program recognize that relationships with nations in other world regions (especially those that are emerging as key potential trade partners in Asia, Latin America, and Africa) remain important as well. The complex global economy requires the parallel construction of regional and global networks and European institutions thus have multiple logics that can justify greater international engagements.

One can also observe regional and market access logics in other areas of the world. The Southeast Asian region has numerous regional cooperation regimes and associations that encourage varying degrees of collaboration and integration. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) created in 1967 has encouraged regional cooperation in the economic and political spheres, but has also encouraged a range of initiatives in the social and educational sectors. The ASEAN University Network (AUN) functions as a vehicle for inter-university collaboration and regional higher education integration. In addition to regular meetings of rectors of member universities, AUN has activities related to credit transfer regimes, quality assurance processes, and academic programs in Southeast Asian Studies. It also serves as coordinating body for mobility agreements and scholarships with countries and regions outside Southeast Asia (e.g., the Erasmus Mundus Program of the European Union and a Chinese government scholarship program). See http://www.aun-sec.org/.

East Asia has significant student mobility in the region driven by geographic and cultural proximity. Increasingly, large numbers of students from Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan are attending universities in China and vice versa.

Australian universities are among the most active in recruiting international students from Asia and in establishing partnerships and satellite operations in the region. A regional and market access logic appears to underpin many Australian initiatives in the Asian Pacific region.

A Gaping Void in Research

As international engagement has become more central to the life and success of the university, we must expand our knowledge on the range and variety of these engagements, how and why institutions make the choices they do, and determine the patterns of success and failure. While universities have long been active internationally, many recent initiatives are relatively untried and extremely entrepreneurial. As discussed here, internationalization intersects with many strategic and core issues faced by higher education institutions everywhere.

Using the concepts of cluster of activity, mode of engagement, and institutional logic, we attempted to provide a useful analytical tool for describing the range of actions and behaviors related to international initiatives undertaken by universities and other higher education institutions. Hopefully, it will stimulate debate and discussion about how we can better observe, describe, and analyze the institutional behavior of universities in ways that are meaningful for scholars as well as practitioners.

It is important to look at the broader literature on higher education as well as the social sciences and the humanities for inspiration on how to conceptualize our research and to recognize that international and global realities have become a core strategic concern of the university. Rather than being a social movement that exists at the margins of the institution, international engagement, transnational systems, and global perspectives are now seen as crucial to institutional survival and future success. Connecting our research on the international dimension to broader institutional issues and a less narrowly defined scholarly domain will make it more relevant, intellectually rich, and insightful.

In the final analysis, the international initiatives of higher education institutions are best understood as part of a larger process of institutional change driven by multiple pressures and tensions to adapt to the changing economic, political, and social conditions affecting them. Much of the research on internationalization and comparative education analyzes regional and national policies and problems. Analysis at the institutional level is less common and perhaps more challenging given problems related to access to data and issues of confidentiality. Nonetheless, it is at the institutional level that we can obtain some of the most powerful insights into the organizational impacts, governance issues, and effects on teaching and research inherent in the growth of these activities.

Richard J. Edelstein and John Aubrey Douglass

New Report: Measuring and Assessing Internationalization

Some new reading on the complex, surprisingly little understood, and much debated topic of ‘internationalization’ was published today by NAFSA. To access a PDF of this free 26 pp. report, written by Madeleine F. Green,  click on the cover page image below. A summary of the report is also available here on the NAFSA website. Madeleine F. Green is former vice president at American Council on Education (ACE), and current senior fellow at NAFSA and at the International Association of Universities (IAU). My thanks to Madeleine Green, as well as Bob Stableski of NAFSA, for permission to post a link to the report here.  Kris Olds

Affirming Academic Values in Internationalization of Higher Education: A Call for Action

I’m delighted to post the statement below, which is a contribution to a long needed debate about the underlying and often submerged values and ideologies associated with the ‘internationalization’ of higher education.  My thanks to Eva Egron-Polak, Secretary General, International Association of Universities (IAU), for sending it to GlobalHigherEd. See this page for the IAU’s general page on internationalization and this page for more information on their ‘rethinking’ initiative.  Kris Olds

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There are few higher education institutions that would report a disinterest in becoming more internationally connected, more open to international students or being able to offer more international research opportunities to their faculty.  Research undertaken by the International Association of Universities (IAU) has shown that internationalization of higher education is definitely an important policy and strategy for most universities worldwide.

Few higher education institutions though would admit that some of the rationales for ‘going international’ are founded equally if not more so in the need to find new sources of funding, in the pressure to keep climbing the prestige ladder and in the race for global talent on which rests their nation’s competitiveness.  Pursuit of these goals too is today associated with the internationalization process.

The multiplicity of rationales, approaches and strategies has been growing over the past decades, making the concept of higher education internationalization take on many faces and many meanings.  It has also led to confusion, negative reactions and criticism of the process, particularly in developing nations whose higher education institutions feel less able to set the agenda.

This growing sense of unease stemming from, on the one side, a strong commitment to the ideals of internationalization for improving academic quality, for international understanding and to reap the benefits from a multitude of perspectives and cultural traditions and, on the other side, the increasingly vocal criticism of internationalization as a process bringing commodification, increasing the brain drain and potentially diminishing diversity in higher education, has led the IAU to launch and coordinate an initiative called Re-Thinking Internationalization.  Together with a fairly large international Ad Hoc Expert Group, IAU drafted a document entitled Affirming Academic Values in Internationalization of Higher Education (pasted in below as well) which shines a light on these and other challenges while also outlining how institutions can re-center the process of internationalization around the academic fundamentals.

Elaborating the Call took several months but putting it into action will, we hope begin immediately.  Comments, reactions, suggestion for how to turn the principles of the Call into actions and offers of endorsement for the Call can be sent to: iau@iau-aiu.net with subject line stating ‘the Call’.

Eva Egron-Polak, Secretary General, International Association of Universities

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April 2012

Affirming Academic Values in Internationalization of Higher Education: A Call for Action

Purpose

This document acknowledges the substantial benefits of the internationalization of higher education but also draws attention to potentially adverse unintended consequences, with a view to alerting higher education institutions to the need to act to ensure that the outcomes of internationalization are positive and of reciprocal benefit to the higher education institutions and the countries concerned.

Internationalization – An evolving concept

1. The internationalization of higher education is a dynamic process, continuously shaped and reshaped by the international context in which it occurs. As this context changes, so do the purpose, goals, meanings, and strategies of internationalization. Over the past half century, the world has changed dramatically as a result of the demise of colonial hegemonies, the end of the Cold War, the rise of new economic powers, and new regional alliances.

2. Globalisation is now the most important contextual factor shaping the internationalization of higher education. Globalisation is characterized by interdependence among nations and manifested in the economic, political, social, cultural, and knowledge spheres. Central to globalization are the increased mobility of goods, services, and people and the accelerating use of information and communication technologies to bridge time and space in unprecedented ways and at continually decreasing costs.

3. Globalization gives an international dimension to all aspects of our lives, communities, and professions. In higher education, it has led to intensified mobility of ideas, students and academic staff and to expanded possibilities for collaboration and global dissemination of knowledge. It has also introduced new aims, activities and actors engaged in internationalization.

4. Institutions, countries and regions in different parts of the world and at different times pursue a variety of goals and participate in diverse ways in the higher education internationalization process. Examples, such as Africa under colonial rule, where access to higher education meant travelling abroad to attend one of the universities of the colonial power, or more recently the Bologna Process, which is radically changing the higher education landscape in Europe through internationally coordinated reforms, illustrate how internationalization fulfils different purposes and brings different rewards and challenges.

5. The goals of internationalization are continuously evolving, ranging from educating global citizens, building capacity for research, to generating income from international student tuition fees and the quest to enhance institutional prestige. New forms of internationalization such as branch campuses abroad, distance learning programs with a global reach, international educational hubs and networks now complement traditional initiatives such as student and staff mobility, curriculum change and international institutional linkages for teaching and research. New institutional players, in particular new private sector providers, have entered the scene.

6. Although the risk of brain drain remains a serious concern in some parts of the world, some countries are using international student mobility to expand their higher education capacity and capabilities. Governments and institutions are creating formal links with academic talent with their own Diasporas to promote brain circulation. And although uneven global flows of talent will remain an issue of consequence, in the long run, some of its worst impacts can be attenuated as a wider array of nations develop capacity and opportunity at home. Higher education internationalization can play a major role in developing such capacities and opportunities broadly throughout the world.

7. In short, internationalization today is remarkably different from what it was in the first half of the 20th century, in the 1960s or 1980s. A widening of drivers of higher education internationalization has had the effect of making internationalization more of an institutional imperative. The balancing of multiple intended outcomes while preserving essential institutional core values and missions is both a challenge and an opportunity. Internationalization is taking place in a radically new, complex, differentiated, and globalized context. The resulting changes in goals, activities, and actors have led to a re-examination of terminology, conceptual frameworks and previous understandings and, more importantly, to an increased but healthy questioning of internationalization’s values, purposes, goals and means.

The changing nature of internationalization in the context of globalization

8. Irrespective of contextual differences within and between countries, nearly all higher education institutions worldwide are engaged in international activities and are seeking to expand them. Engaging with the world is now considered part of the very definition of quality in education and research.

9. The many enduring academic benefits of internationalization are widely recognized as fundamental. The most noteworthy include, among many others:

  • Improved quality of teaching and learning as well as research.
  • Deeper engagement with national, regional, and global issues and stakeholders.
  • Better preparation of students as national and global citizens and as productive members of the workforce.
  • Access for students to programs that are unavailable or scarce in their home countries.
  • Enhanced opportunities for faculty improvement and, through mobility, decreased risk of academic ‘inbreeding’.
  • Possibility to participate in international networks to conduct research on pressing issues at home and abroad and benefit from the expertise and perspectives of researchers from many parts of the world.
  • Opportunity to situate institutional performance within the context of international good practice.
  • Improved institutional policy-making, governance, student services, outreach, and quality assurance through sharing of experiences across national borders.

10. At the same time, the new world of higher education is characterized by competition for prestige, talent and resources on both national and global scales. National and international rankings are driving some universities to prioritize policies and practices that help them rise in the rankings. At many institutions, internationalization is now part of a strategy to enhance prestige, global competitiveness and revenue. As higher education has in some respects become a global ‘industry’, so has internationalization of higher education become, in some quarters, a competition in which commercial and other interests sometimes overshadow higher education’s fundamental academic mission and values. Competition is in danger of displacing collaboration as the foundation for internationalization.

Possible adverse consequences of internationalization

11. As internationalization of higher education evolves and grows in importance, a number of potentially adverse consequences of the process have begun to appear. These include particular risks for some institutions, uneven benefits, and asymmetrical power relations. Frequently noted are the following concerns:

  • The prevalence of English, though driven by the advantages of having a common medium of communication, has the potential to diminish the diversity of languages studied or used to deliver higher education. The widespread use of English may thus lead to cultural homogenization and finding solutions for these adverse impacts, even though recognized, is difficult.
  • Global competition may diminish the diversity of institutional models of what constitutes quality higher education. The pursuit of a single model of excellence embodied in the notion of a “world-class university,” usually narrowly defined as excellence in research, may result in the concentration of scarce national resources in a few or a single institution to the detriment of a diverse national system of higher education institutions, fit for diverse national purposes. This risk is potentially present everywhere, but is particularly acute for developing countries.
  • Brain drain may continue or even accelerate, undermining the capacity of developing countries and their institutions to retain the talent needed for their prosperity, cultural advancement, and social well-being.
  • Large-scale international student recruitment, at times using questionable and even unethical practices, may cause a variety of problems, such as brain drain. Also, the presence of large numbers of international students may result in misconceptions about decreased opportunities for domestic students or inadvertently feed prejudice about foreigners. This can overshadow the highly positive intellectual and intercultural benefits that international students bring to the classroom, campus, and communities in which they study and live.
  • The growth of transnational programs and creation of branch campuses raises a number of questions including how these enhance the educational capacity of host nations over the long-term, and how able they are to deliver on the promise of an education comparable to that delivered by the sponsoring institution in its home country. A foreign educational presence, with its perceived prestige, has the potential to disadvantage local higher education institutions striving to respond to national needs. Some host nations experience difficulty regulating the presence, activity and quality of foreign programs.
  • As the pursuit of institutional reputation, stimulated by rankings, gains in importance among the goals of internationalization, the selection of international partners may be driven more by the desire to gain prestige by association than by actual interest in cooperation. Such a trend carries the risk of exclusion for many important and high quality institutions from international partnerships.
  • The asymmetry of relations between institutions, based on access to resources for the development and implementation of internationalization strategies, can lead to the pursuit of goals that advantage the better –resourced institutions and can result in unevenly shared benefits.

In noting these adverse consequences, the inherent value of internationalization of higher education is not being called into question. On the contrary, the goal of raising awareness of these potential risks among the institutions of higher education is to ensure that action is taken to avoid them.

Affirming values underpinning internationalization: A call to higher education institutions

12. The benefits of internationalization are clear. In pursuing internationalization, however, it is incumbent on institutions of higher education everywhere to make every effort to avoid or at least mitigate its potential adverse consequences.

13. The prevailing context for higher education internationalization described in this document requires all institutions to revisit and affirm internationalization’s underlying values, principles and goals, including but not limited to: intercultural learning; inter-institutional cooperation; mutual benefit; solidarity; mutual respect; and fair partnership. Internationalization also requires an active, concerted effort to ensure that institutional practices and programs successfully balance academic, financial, prestige and other goals. It requires institutions everywhere to act as responsible global citizens, committed to help shape a global system of higher education that values academic integrity, quality, equitable access, and reciprocity.

14. In designing and implementing their internationalization strategies, higher education institutions are called upon to embrace and implement the following values and principles:

  • Commitment to promote academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and social responsibility.
  • Pursuit of socially responsible practices locally and internationally, such as equity in access and success, and non-discrimination.
  • Adherence to accepted standards of scientific integrity and research ethics.
  • Placement of academic goals such as student learning, the advancement of research, engagement with the community, and addressing global problems at the centre of their internationalization efforts.
  • Pursuit of the internationalization of the curriculum as well as extra curricula activities so that non-mobile students, still the overwhelming majority, can also benefit from internationalization and gain the global competences they will need.
  • Engagement in the unprecedented opportunity to create international communities of research, learning, and practice to solve pressing global problems.
  • Affirmation of reciprocal benefit, respect, and fairness as the basis for partnership.
  • Treatment of international students and scholars ethically and respectfully in all aspects of their relationship with the institution.
  • Pursuit of innovative forms of collaboration that address resource differences and enhance human and institutional capacity across nations.
  • Safeguarding and promotion of cultural and linguistic diversity and respecting local concerns and practices when working outside one’s own nation.
  • Continuous assessment of the impacts – intended and unintended, positive and negative – of internationalization activities on other institutions.
  • Responding to new internationalization challenges through international dialogue that combines consideration of fundamental values with the search for practical solutions to facilitate interaction between higher education institutions across borders and cultures while respecting and promoting diversity.

15. These values are neither slogans nor vague abstractions. They should be applied in very concrete ways to institutional policy and practice. As institutions develop their internationalization strategies, they should be clear and transparent about why they are undertaking a particular initiative, how it relates to their academic mission and values, and what mechanisms can be put in place to avoid possible negative consequences. Open discussion, within and across institutions and associations and with governments, should keep fundamental academic goals and principles in the foreground, in the context of rapid change, complex realities, and ever-mounting pressures of competition and limited resources.

Next steps

16. This Call to Higher Education Institutions is but a first step in IAU’s engagement to collaborate with its Member Organizations and other international education associations and partners to provide institutional guidance and examples of good practice in internationalization. IAU will now turn to helping institutions translate these principles and values into everyday practice.

Global Citizenship – What Are We Talking About and Why Does It Matter?

Editor’s note: This guest entry was written by Madeleine F. Green, a Senior Fellow at NAFSA and the International Association of Universities. It was originally published in NAFSA’s newish Trends & Insights series of short online article that are “designed to highlight social, economic, political and higher education system trends affecting international higher education.” Our thanks to Madeleine and NAFSA for permission to post her fascinating entry here (which is also available as a PDF via this link). Kris Olds

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During the past decade higher education’s interest in internationalization has intensified, and the concept of civic education or engagement has broadened from a national focus to a more global one, thus expanding the concept that civic responsibility extends beyond national borders.

As Schattle (2009) points out, the concept of global citizenship is not a new one; it can be traced back to ancient Greece. But the concept and the term seem to have new currency and are now widely used in higher education. Many institutions cite global citizenship in their mission statements and/or as an outcome of liberal education and internationalization efforts. Many have “centers for global citizenship” or programs with this label.

Additionally, national and international organizations and networks have devoted themselves to helping institutions promote global citizenship, although they do not necessarily use that term. For example, the Association of American Colleges and Universities sponsors a series of programs concerned with civic learning, a broad concept that includes several goals for undergraduate education: strengthening U.S. democracy, preparing globally responsible citizenry, developing personal and social responsibility, and promoting global learning and diversity. The Salzburg Seminar’s International Study Program provides week-long workshops for faculty to consider the concepts of global citizenship and their integration into undergraduate education. It also provides college students with programs on global issues. The Talloires Network is an international alliance formed in 2005 that includes 202 institutions in 58 countries “devoted to strengthening the civic roles and social responsibilities of higher education.” The Talloires declaration refers specifically to “preparing students to contribute positively to local, national, and global communities.” Founded in 1985, the oldest of these networks, Campus Compact, retains its predominant, but not exclusive, focus on the United States.

Defining Global Citizenship

A foray into the literature or a look at the many ways colleges and universities talk about global citizenship reveals how broad a concept it is and how different the emphasis can be depending on who uses the term. This essay can only outline a few important elements of global citizenship, but a brief overview of the many meanings should help institutions formulate or clarify their own definition of it, identify those elements that are central to their educational vision, and add other dimensions. The following are among the most salient features of global citizenship (this section draws from a variety of sources but primarily relies on Schattle (2007)).

Global citizenship as a choice and a way of thinking. National citizenship is an accident of birth; global citizenship is different. It is a voluntary association with a concept that signifies “ways of thinking and living within multiple cross-cutting communities—cities, regions, states, nations, and international collectives…” (Schattle 2007, 9). People come to consider themselves as global citizens through different formative life experiences and have different interpretations of what it means to them. The practice of global citizenship is, for many, exercised primarily at home, through engagement in global issues or with different cultures in a local setting. For others, global citizenship means firsthand experience with different countries, peoples, and cultures. For most, there exists a connection between the global and the local. Whatever an individual’s particular “take” on global citizenship may be, that person makes a choice in whether or how to practice it.

Global citizenship as self-awareness and awareness of others. As one international educator put it, it is difficult to teach intercultural understanding to students who are unaware they, too, live in a culture that colors their perceptions. Thus, awareness of the world around each student begins with self-awareness. Self-awareness also enables students to identify with the universalities of the human experience, thus increasing their identification with fellow human beings and their sense of responsibility toward them.

Global citizenship as they practice cultural empathy. Cultural empathy or intercultural competence is commonly articulated as a goal of global education, and there is significant literature on these topics. Intercultural competence occupies a central position in higher education’s thinking about global citizenship and is seen as an important skill in the workplace. There are more than 30 instruments or inventories to assess intercultural competence. Cultural empathy helps people see questions from multiple perspectives and move deftly among cultures—sometimes navigating their own multiple cultural identities, sometimes moving out to experience unfamiliar cultures.

Global citizenship as the cultivation of principled decisionmaking. Global citizenship entails an awareness of the interdependence of individuals and systems and a sense of responsibility that follows from it. Navigating “the treacherous waters of our epic interdependence (Altinay 2010, 4) requires a set of guiding principles that will shape ethical and fair responses. Although the goal of undergraduate education should not be to impose a “correct” set of answers, critical thinking, cultural empathy, and ethical systems and choices are an essential foundation to principled decisionmaking.

Global citizenship as participation in the social and political life of one’s community. There are many different types of communities, from the local to the global, from religious to political groups. Global citizens feel a connection to their communities (however they define them) and translate that sense of connection into participation. Participation can take the form of making responsible personal choices (such as limiting fossil fuel consumption), voting, volunteering, advocacy, and political activism. The issues may include the environment, poverty, trade, health, and human rights. Participation is the action dimension of global citizenship.

Why Does Global Citizenship Matter?

The preceding list could be much longer and more detailed; global citizenship covers a lot of ground. Thus, it is useful to consider the term global citizenship as shorthand for the habits of mind and complex learning associated with global education. The concept is useful and important in several respects.

First, a focus on global citizenship puts the spotlight on why internationalization is central to a quality education and emphasizes that internationalization is a means, not an end. Serious consideration of the goals of internationalization makes student learning the key concern rather than counting inputs.

Second, the benefits of encouraging students to consider their responsibilities to their communities and to the world redound to them, institutions, and society. As Altinay (2010, 1) put it, “a university education which does not provide effective tools and forums for students to think through their responsibilities and rights as one of the several billions on planet Earth, and along the way develop their moral compass, would be a failure.” Strengthening institutional commitment to serving society enriches the institution, affirms its relevance and contributions to society, and benefits communities (however expansive the definition) and the lives of their members.

Third, the concept of global citizenship creates conceptual and practical connections rather than cleavages. The commonalities between what happens at home and “over there” become visible. The characteristics that human beings share are balanced against the differences that are so conspicuous. On a practical level, global citizenship provides a concept that can create bridges between the work of internationalization and multicultural education. Although these efforts have different histories and trajectories, they also share important goals of cultural empathy and intercultural competence (Olson et al. 2007).

No concept or term is trouble-free; no idea goes uncontested by some faculty member or group. For better or for worse, global citizenship will undoubtedly provoke disagreements that reflect larger academic and philosophical debates. There is plenty of skepticism about global citizenship. Some object to any concept that suggests a diminished role for the nation and allegiance to it or the ascendancy of global governance systems. The idea of developing students’ moral compasses can raise questions about whose values and morals and how institutions undertake this delicate task. Some students will choose not to accept responsibility for the fate of others far away, or may see inequality as an irremediable fact of life. Some faculty will stand by the efficacy and wisdom of the market; others will see redressing inequality as the key issue for the future of humankind. And so on.

Such debates, sometimes civil or acrimonious, are, for better or worse, the stuff of academe. Implementing new ideas—even if they have been around for a very long time as in the case of global citizenship—can be slow and painful. However, if colleges and universities can produce graduates with the knowledge and the disposition to be global citizens, the world would certainly be a better place.

Madeleine F. Green


Box 1 — Conceptual Divides

What was once simply called “international education” is now a field awash with varied terminology, different conceptual frameworks, goals, and underlying assumptions.*

Although “internationalization” is widely used, many use globalization—with all its different definitions and connotations— in its stead. Rather than take on the job of sorting out the terminology, let me point out two significant conceptual divides in the conversation. Both center on the purpose of internationalization.

In the first divide, we see one face of internationalization as referring to a series of activities closely associated with institutional prestige, profile, and revenue. These activities are generally quantifiable, lend themselves to institutional comparisons and benchmarking, and provide metrics for internationalization performance that resonate with trustees and presidents. Examples include hosting international students, sending students abroad, developing international agreements, and delivering programs abroad.

The other face of internationalization—student learning— is much more difficult to capture and assess, but it provides an important answer to the “so what?” question. Why does internationalization matter? What impact do internationalization activities have on student learning? How do they contribute to preparing students to live and work in a globalized and culturally diverse world?

Different terms with overlapping meanings are used to describe the student learning dimension of internationalization. Global learning, global education, and global competence are familiar terms; they, too, are often used synonymously. The global in all three terms often includes the concepts of international (between and among nations), global (transcending national borders), and intercultural (referring often to cultural differences at home and around the world).

Also prevalent in the student learning discussion is another cluster of terms that focus specifically on deepening students’ understanding of global issues and interdependence, and encouraging them to engage socially and politically to address societal issues. These terms include global citizenship, world citizenship (Nussbaum 1997), civic learning, civic engagement, and global civics (Altinay 2010). These terms, too, share several key concepts, and are often used interchangeably.

The second divide focuses on the divergent, but not incompatible goals of workforce development (developing workers to compete in the global marketplace) or as a means of social development (developing globally competent citizens.) Global competitiveness is primarily associated with mastery of math, science, technology, and occasionally language competence, whereas “global competence” (a broad term, to be sure), puts greater emphasis on intercultural understanding and knowledge of global systems and issues, culture, and language.

As the field grows increasingly complex and the instrumental goals of internationalization become more prominent, it is important that campus discussions and planning efforts sort out their language, underlying concepts, and implied or explicit values. Otherwise, people run the risk of talking past each other and developing strategies that may not match their goals.


*It is important for U.S. readers to note that the goals of and assumptions about internationalization vary widely around the world. The Third Global Survey of Internationalization conducted by the International Association of Universities found that there are divergent views among institutions in different regions of the risks and benefits of internationalizations. Based on their findings, IAU has launched an initiative to take a fresh look at internationalization from a global perspective.

References

Altinay, Hakan. “The Case for Global Civics.” Global Economy and Development Working Paper 35, The Brookings Institution, Washington, DC, 2010.

Nussbaum, Martha. 1997. Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press.

Olson, Christa, Rhodri Evans, and Robert Shoenberg. 2007. At Home in the World: Bridging the Gap Between Internationalization and Multi-Cultural Education. Washington DC: American Council on Education.

Schattle, Hans. 2007. The Practices of Global Citizenship . Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

Schattle, Hans. 2009. “Global Citizenship in Theory and Practice.” In The Handbook of Practice and Research in Study Abroad:Higher Education and the Quest for Global Citizenship, ed. R. Lewin. New York: Routledge.

‘Hotspots’ and international scientific collaboration

The OECD Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard 2011: Innovation and Growth in Knowledge Economies report was released on 20 September.  While I’ve only seen the summary (which is the source for the first three images below) and an informative entry (‘A Changing Landscape: University hotspots for science and technology‘) in the OECD’s Education Today weblog, it is interesting to see a now common pattern and message emerging in these types of reports, and in a series of like-minded conferences, workshops, and associated reports (e.g. the Royal Society’s excellent Knowledge, Networks and Nations: Global Scientific collaboration in the 21st century, March 2011):

(a) relative stasis or decline in the OECD member countries (though they still do dominate, and will for decades to come);

(b) relatively fast growth within the so-called BRIC countries; and

(c) increased international collaboration, both as outcome and as aspiration.

And it is the aspiration for international collaboration that is particularly fascinating to ponder, for these types of scoreboards — analytical benchmarking cum geostrategic reframing exercises really — help produce insights on the evolving ‘lie of the land,’ while also flagging the ideal target spaces (countries, regions, institutions) for prospective future collaboration. National development processes and patterns thus drive change, but they interact in fascinating ways with the international collaborative process, which drives more international collaboration, and on it goes. As Alessandra Colecchia of the OECD puts it:

What does this [the changing landscape, and emerging ‘hotspots’] mean and why is it important? As students and researchers become more mobile, new sets of elite universities outside of the US could materialize. Whether or not we call it the “Banyan” or “Bonsai” League is yet to be determined, but it is clear that OECD countries may no longer have the monopoly on scientific excellence in higher education.

Luckily for us, education is generally not a zero-sum game. When others gain important insights and breakthroughs in science and technology, the entire field benefits. So wherever you are in the world, you can wear your college sweatshirt with pride.

True, though questions remain about the principles/missions/agendas driving international collaboration. For example, there is an ongoing scramble in Europe and North America to link up with research-active Brazilian institutions of higher education; an issue nicely summarized in today’s OBHE story titled ‘Brazil leads the charge from Latin America.’

As noted in the fourth image below (which was extracted from the Royal Society’s Knowledge, Networks and Nations: Global Scientific collaboration in the 21st century), the nature of coauthor-based collaboration with Brazil is changing, with some countries edging closer because scholar-to-scholar ties are deepening or thinning. The reconfiguration is most likely deepening from 2008 on as a slew of new policies, programs and projects get promoted and funded in both Brazil and actual or potential partner countries.

Some of the questions that come to my mind, after participating in some workshops where relations with Brazil are discussed include:

  • What values drive these new initiatives to reach out across space into and out of Brazil?
  • What disciplines are factored in (or not), and what types of researchers (junior? senior? elite? emerging?) get supported?
  • What languages are they dependent upon, and what languages will they indirectly promote?
  • Are these international collaboration drives built on the principle of ‘you are only as strong as your weakest link’ (i.e. an exclusive one), or are they attendant to the need for capacity building and longer time horizons for knowledge development?
  • Are these international collaboration drives built upon implicit and explicit principles of reciprocity, or otherwise?
  • What about the territorial dimensions of the development process? Will we see hotspot to ’emerging hotspot’ linkages deepen, or will hotspots be linked up with non-hotspots and if so how, and why? Can an archipelago-like landscape of linked up hotspots ‘serve’ nations/regions/the world, or is it generative of exclusionary developmental tendencies?

These are but a few of many questions to ponder as we observe, and jointly construct, emerging ‘hotspots’ in the global higher education and research landscape.

Kris Olds

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Note: the first three images were extracted from the OECD Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard 2011: Innovation and Growth in Knowledge Economies (Sept 2011). The fourth image was extracted from the Royal Society’s Knowledge, Networks and Nations: Global Scientific collaboration in the 21st century (March 2011).

A primer on international partnerships

One notable challenge for many universities is moving beyond the superficial rhetoric of internationalization. Of course every university, and its leaders, are in favor of internationalizing: the signs are everywhere, from refashioned mission statements, to the building of some institutional capacity to understand and support internationalization, to the inclusion of the rhetoric of internationalization in speech after speech by university leaders.

Yet, in the end, the process of enhancing the territorial spread of institutional networks, and sometimes architectures, is not so simple: it requires the initiation and implementation of a strategic planning process, and the subsequent bringing to life of new linkages, partnerships, programs, and projects. All of these elements, of course,  are more than technical issues. They are highly political, not just in what linkages with whom, but how they are advanced.  For some, this involves a top-down led process of almost turning the university inside out (e.g., NYU), while for others it involves the slow and steady development of an infrastructure of support to enable units within a university to go at their own speed, in their own ways, free of formal managerialism where one unit (and often person) is deemed the defacto czar of internationalization.

Regardless of approach, one of the noteworthy aspects of this phenomenon is its formalization. What I mean by this is institutions of higher education are increasingly attempting to become more strategic in a comprehensive and legible way. Audits of international teaching and research activities are being conducted, and universities are ramping up their coordination capabilities via advisory councils, task forces, ad-hoc working groups and the use of specialist consultants. The best universities build in accountability and outcome measures to see what is really happening over time. This sometimes involves more staff versus additional resources for faculty and students, for good and for bad (see, for example, the vigorous debate about the rise of ‘deanlets’ and ‘deanlings’ in ‘The Fall of the Faculty‘, Inside Higher Ed, 14 July 2011).

In any case, the effort to become more strategic, and formal, about internationalization is abundantly evident in a new report released yesterday by the UK Higher Education International and Europe Unit. This report — A Guide to UK Higher Education and Partnerships for Overseas Universities  — is designed to serve as a “starting point for overseas institutions interested in establishing collaborations with UK higher education institutions.” As noted in the report’s executive summary:

Partnerships between academic institutions have tended to be the product of working relationships between individual academics; but more recently, as the potential benefits and risks from overseas collaborations have increased, universities and colleges have begun to manage their international partnerships portfolio more effectively.

Increasing competition is affecting the way UK universities think about their aspirations and how to maintain their international competitiveness. A strategic shift is underway – away from a focus on international student recruitment (at which the UK sector has been successful) and toward a longer-term and more partnership based conceptualisation of internationalisation.

Governments around the world are increasingly encouraging their universities to embrace the international agenda and to internationalise their institution. They are doing this by supporting and facilitating their higher education sectors to engage at an institutional level with global partners through teaching and research collaboration.

The free 52 page report, which is available in PDF format in English, Arabic and Chinese, is worth reading –  for even if you are not interested in partnering with UK universities, the report helpfully sets out a series of issues worth thinking about in general at both the university level (i.e. how to frame and implement partnerships) as well as the larger system-wide scale.

For example, the report prompted me to reflect on the issue of what associations of universities could do to better communicate about, in summary form, the taken-for-granted factors shaping the national systems of higher education and research their own universities are embedded in. And if this were to happen, what language(s) should this form of communications occur in? What format should these types of ‘primers’ be available in, and at what cost (if any)? And whom should we be communicating with as we lay out some of the groundwork for the hoped for formation of partnerships? Similarly, do we, at the university scale, provide sufficient analytically-oriented information, in one place on our websites, about the history, nature of, and entry points (with respect to governance), regarding our universities that prospective overseas partners would find beneficial to read prior to visits and negotiations?

Of course partnerships, in the end, need to be brought to life at the university-to-university level, but keep it in mind that the diversity of systems out there mean that many universities need approval from ministries or government departments before they can engage in partnerships, especially if year-on-year resource expenditures are to be factored in. Given this, many government officials, ministers (or equivalents), and some unexpected others, have power to shape relationship-building outcomes even though they frequently do not have an understanding of issues, like academic freedom, quality assurance, institutional governance, research and teaching outcome expectations, etc. All the more reason for communicating about who we are, and are not.

While hardly comprehensive, or  perfect, my read of A Guide to UK Higher Education and Partnerships for Overseas Universities leads me to believe that its authors and sponsors are attempting to provide a primer of this type; one for ‘overseas universities’ as well as the other actors who will have an impact on the partnership relationship-building process. It is also a reflexive piece; one that is  reminding those guiding UK universities to think about the taken-for granted factors that shape their practices and expectations. In the end, these kinds of communications objectives cannot but be positive, for failed or unrealized partnerships (and there are many the higher education sector) generate ample opportunity costs that we can scarcely afford.

Kris Olds

Associations of universities and the deep internationalization agenda: beyond the status quo?

Do our associations of universities have the adequate capabilities, including infrastructures, to support the well-spring of ‘internationalization’ that is emerging in member universities in virtually all countries? On some levels yes, but on other levels perhaps not.

One of the interesting aspects of the enhanced significance of internationalization in the higher education and research world is to reflect upon who takes up the agenda, and what do they really do with it.  In a variety of contexts I’ve been hearing more and more dissatisfaction with the status quo regarding internationalization, which in most universities simply means more study abroad, more foreign students, more Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs). To be sure some universities have gone very far along these paths, but these are well worn paths, and arguably not reflective of the development and implementation of internationalization strategies that create new paths, new models, deep connections, and visible yet also successful ‘signature’ projects. They are also reflective of a centralization (import) logic, and an unease about unsettling existing ways of doing things (despite the assertive rhetoric).

There are signs this situation is changing, though, with the development of branch campuses, the establishment of a range of international collaborative degrees (an issue I’ll be writing about soon), regularized co-advising and co-teaching via the systemic provision of distance learning technology, the knitting together of institutional architectures via the creation of research units within other universities, and the like. Examples of these types of initiatives are thin on the ground for the most part, though.

Scaling up, associations of universities in many countries have also been building up their internationalization agenda. Typical activities include lobbying relevant authorities about policy matters (everything from immigration and visa matters through to GATS),  the coordination of capacity building programs and projects in other countries, and member university capacity building (usually via best practices sharing, fellowships, or secondments). Some associations also provide user-pay support services for members – a trend emerging in association with the ‘cost-recovery’ agenda.

For example, the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) in the United States works on this front via its Commission on International Programs which has “four Standing Committees: 1) International Exchange 2) International Development 3) Academic Affairs and 4) Federal, State Private Sector Relations.” Or take the case of the Midwestern  Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) which convenes regular meetings of “Senior International Officers” (usually deans, directors, vice-provosts), while also acting as a conduit for relationship building between its member universities and individual universities (e.g., my colleagues from the University of Birmingham will be visiting this coming week) or groups of universities (e.g., Australia’s Group of Eight) from other countries.

These associations, and their cousins in other countries and regions, have shown themselves to be adroit and supportive on an increasing number of levels despite constrained resources. This said, it seems to me that there is a growing disjuncture between well-intended associations of universities and the defacto (and often not expressed) needs of their membership bases, especially with respect to the deep internationalization agenda.  Members are grappling (or not, which should be a concern!) with complex challenges and topics like:

  • How is the global higher education landscape changing, and how might we be effected by it, or take advantage of aspects of it?
  • How do we map out our university’s international connections?
  • How do we really internationalize – the process, the plan, the implementation, and the iterative process of update and revision?
  • How to we effectively plan for risk?
  • How do we frame, define, and establish governance pathways, for international collaborative degrees and internships?
  • How do we create and support (financially, and administratively) overseas units that need some legal and physical presence?
  • How do we establish and control costs, and ensure security, with respect to communications infrastructure?
  • How do we negotiate with representatives of other systems that have very different understandings of the role of higher education and research in the development process, state of the art pedagogy, academic freedom, incentives and desirable outcomes, and quality assurance and accreditation? What should the key non-negotiables be?
  • Should we, and if so how do we, engage with major transnational corporations like Thomson Reuters and Google?
  • What should we demand, and expect, of our new partners?
  • Where do we get quick and effective legal advice (most university legal affairs offices lack internationally experienced staff)?
  • How might our strategies contribute to emerging tendencies of exclusion and/or inclusion with respect to the production, circulation and consumption of knowledge?
  • Etc.

Clearly some universities have this all worked out, but they tend to be the well-resourced and capable ones like Yale or NYU. The majority of universities in the Global North and the Global South are grappling with many of these issues, and many more, yet they tend to operate on (as makes sense in many ways) an institutional and bilateral level; reaching out, making connections, formalizing relations, and engaging. They are inventing anew and while this is logical it is highly inefficient and not always risk-free given the differential capabilities of universities that are partnering up, but also the differential capabilities between universities and new players (including foreign governments and the state more generally).

Associations of universities are obvious candidates to build up the capacity of their members but they too are seeing enhanced obligations and mission creep as the denationalization process unfolds. Such associations are also grappling with fiscal constraints for they tend to reply upon membership fees as a main if not majority source of revenue. Thus there is an emerging disjuncture – universities have more on their plate, while associations have more on their plate, but the membership fee revenue foundation has intractable constraints and structural contradictions associated with it.

Perhaps it is time for some innovative experiments in forging innovations to support deep internationalization? Four of many examples would be the creation and financing of:

  • ‘Living’ (ie virtual) manuals to guide all aspects of establishing international partnerships (one model is the Internationalisation of European Higher Education – A New handbook, jointly edited by the European University Association and the Academic Cooperation Association). Virtual manuals could include model as well as sample MoUs and legal agreements for these are rarely shared, as well as relevant geovisualizations that map out the terrain and nature of relations between universities around the world.
  • Retainers for on-demand services with select law firms to assist in shaping select aspects of the internationalization process, including in the late stages of negotiations and agreement drafting. Aspects of this assistance could be knitted into the virtual manuals idea noted above where reports (e.g., see International partnerships: a legal guide for universities) are available for review.
  • Risk assessment review manuals, with templates for both process and final reports.
  • Shared infrastructure development. [which I’ll focus in on now]

As my colleague Ann Hill Duin (Associate VP/Associate CIO, Office of Information Technology, University of Minnesota) put it to me at last week’s APLU conference (where I was speaking), why should universities establish their own IT systems in global higher education hubs when they could collaborate much more closely and reduce costs? Or why should universities from one country work on an individual basis to establish foreign presence via leased space in select city-regions when they could collaborate, via an associational or inter-associational relations, and build a purpose built structure.

Imagine, for example, a structure modeled on the wonderful Alliance Française de Singapour building (pictured throughout this entry) in Mumbai or Beijing or Shanghai or New York or Boston or Paris or Abu Dhabi or Lagos. It could include a small hotel, cinema, lecture space, marketing space, meeting space, a range of video conferencing technologies, etc. It could be of much use to member universities, and could also be leased out to local institutions, or other non-member institutions. One could imply I am recommending a foreign compound but this is not at all what I am suggesting; rather, this would be a space of transaction, a space to enable faster, quicker, more efficient and more conducive network relations, and in an aesthetically pleasing setting that is less open to the vagaries of market fluctuations in leasing prices. It would also send a tangible and visible message of commitment to host nations/cities.

In any case, this is but one of many ways we have yet to many of our associations of universities move forward individually, in partnership with other same-country associations, or else in partnership with organizations like the International Association of Universities (IAU). But these types of initiative cannot be just layered on for it they are dependent upon new streams of direct and in-kind resources from government agencies, alumni, philanthropists, member universities, and so on. New models are needed or else we have to accept a status quo that defacto penalizes universities with fewer internal resources.

In closing, I’d like to flag one forthcoming opportunity to discuss the issue of how associations of universities can better navigate the emerging global higher education and research landscape. The International Association of Universities (IAU) is organizing the fourth IAU Global Meeting of Associations (GMA IV) in New Delhi, India, 11-12 April 2011. This particular meeting is being organized in partnership with the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) and the Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT). The purpose of the Global Meeting of Associations is to bring together associations of universities (not individual universities) and grapple with challenging issues facing associations and their member universities. This year’s theme is the Internationalization of Higher Education: New Players, New Approaches. I’ll paste in the background information flyer below, and you can register here, download background information here, and download the preliminary programme here. Further details are available via i.devylder@iau-aiu.net or r.hudson@iau-aiu.net. I participated in the 2009 meeting in Mexico and was truly impressed by the richness of the discussions, and the opportunities that emerged for enhanced cooperation at a range of scales, and on a range of issues.

Kris Olds

A further response to ‘A question (about universities, global challenges, and an organizational-ethical dilemma)’

Editors’ note: several weeks ago, Professor Nigel Thrift, Vice Chancellor of the University of Warwick, UK, contributed an entry where he posed: ‘A question (about universities, global challenges, and an organizational, ethical dilemma)’. Peter N. Stearns, Provost of George Mason University, offered the first response to Nigel’s challenge in a series we will be posting through to the end of 2010.

This  ‘response’ is from Gregor McLennan, Professor of Sociology and Director of the Institute of Advanced Studies, University of Bristol. As Director of the IAS, Gregor has been busy promoting  a series of debates around the changing nature of the university in contemporary societies. His contribution to this series is therefore particularly welcome. Gregor’s work lies in the area of sociological theories and social philosophies, and has written widely on Marxism and pluralism in particular. His book, Sociological Cultural Studies: Reflexivity and Positivity in the Human Sciences, tackled some key questions of the day around (inter) disciplinarity, explanation, critical realism, complexity theory and Eurocentrism.

Susan Robertson & Kris Olds

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I want to raise a couple of issues about Nigel Thrift’s questions, to do with the way he constructs universities as a collective agency, a coherent ‘we’ that bears a ‘global’ identity. Nigel urges this ‘we’ fully to bring its actions into alignment with its ‘beliefs’, and to improve upon the shoddy performance of ‘other actors’ in tackling the ‘grand challenges’ of the day. And in that regard, the collectivity should see itself henceforth as positioned on a ‘war footing’, deploying its ‘engines of reason’ to force the principles of ‘scientific cooperation’ into service of the ‘survival of the species’.

There are several things that might be contested in this scenario of ‘agentification’, by which I mean the portrayal of universities as though they constituted a singular moral centre or personality, strategically intervening as such.

One is to do with its assumed site, the ‘global’ apparently designating something definite, and something quite obviously good. As Nigel knows, substantial objections can be raised against such easy affirmation of the nature and ‘imperativity’ of the global per se.  Yet universities everywhere now are falling over in the rush to assure themselves that meeting the ‘challenge of the global’ is something wholly other than the imperativity of the market, something that instead touches upon our deepest ethical and intellectual mission. It behoves us, I think, to be a tad sceptical about such ‘globalloney’ (in Bruno Latour’s phrase), and perhaps even to risk the accusation of parochialism by emphasising the continuing importance of the national contexts that not only universities, but many millions with an interest in the future of universities, still mainly orientate themselves around. National contexts – arguably at least – retain a certain logistical, cultural and psychological coherence that globality might forever lack; and the prospect of a world of relatively small-scale, highly educated democracies looks better geared to effective species-survival than the sort of flaccid but pushy cosmopolitanism that is currently doing the rounds.

Second, it is not self-evident that the kind of cooperation that characterizes scientific practice and development has any direct application to, or analogue within, the political processes through which any humanity-wide survival strategy will necessarily have to be coordinated. Nigel asks universities as a whole to interact in the way that individual investigators do, but this expectation is surely inappropriate. Academics are driven to work together because of their motivation to produce facts, measures, truths, and theories, whereas universities, as such, have no such intrinsic motivation, and nor do governments.

So asking universities to tackle the survival of the species is rather like asking families, or football clubs to do this. It’s not that people within these civic associations shouldn’t be mightily concerned about such imperatives, and contribute their expertise in a politically active way. It’s just that this is not these institutions’ defining concern. Indeed, in some ways the specific concern of universities – to develop plural communities of knowledge and understanding through discovery, controversial systematization, and rigorous reflection – is likely to generate some resistance to any politicized summary of the ‘threats and opportunities’ that ‘we’ all face. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a defence of the apolitical: as individuals and members of a range of collectives, we should get active around the priorities that Nigel Thrift designates. But it might be OK that universities are not best suited to organize in that targeted way. As Peter Stearns emphasises, universities’ hallmark medium is education, which is necessarily open-ended, changing and reflective. Of course, just as we need universities to free us from the blockages of our societal formations, interests and mind-sets, so in turn we need politics to reign in our deliberations and give positive shape to our values. But though they complement each other in this way, the functions of education and politics remain very different.

The third problematic aspect of Nigel’s line of thought comes out most clearly in Indira V. Samarasekera’s paper in Nature, in which it is suggested that universities have two prevailing thought-styles and labour processes: ‘solution-driven’ and ‘blue skies’. Both modes, she accepts, have to be part of core business. But whilst the latter, ‘until recently’, has been considered the ‘mainstay’, and must ‘remain so’, a much closer alignment between the two modes is held to be necessary if ‘we’ are to be more effective in ‘solving the world’s problems’. Accordingly, it is quite a good thing that the ‘fairly traditionalist’ structure of ‘curiosity-driven projects’ is giving way to a ‘fast and effective’ modality, enabling us to ‘keep pace’ with the big challenges, for which we need to ‘copy the organizations that work best’. To that end, Samarasekera maintains, we need to develop ‘collaboratories’ involving universities, government and industry, to bridge the gap between ‘universities and the private sector’, and to construct funding regimes that stimulate ‘interdisciplinary, inter-professional, and inter-sectoral approaches’.

It strikes me that the founding contrast here between ‘blue skies’ thinking (with just a hint of the smear of ‘uselessness’) and various other research practices (themselves over-schematized as ‘solution-driven’) is considerably exaggerated. But another, perhaps more insidious, bifurcation comes into play, according to which the agentic ‘we’ of the university turns out to have two bodies, as in, ‘We, the academic leaders and universities, should embrace this new relationship…’ In this depiction, the purely academic side of the collective, and the blue skies folks in particular, are ushered into the background and cast as worryingly slow off the mark, not quite up to the demands of fast and smart global Higher-ed with its solution-seeking culture. Responsibility for meeting the latter therefore falls perforce to the academic leaders, now stepping decisively into the foreground as the distinctive group that represents the essence and future of the university. So, given that the merits and deficits of, let’s say, inter-disciplinarity are never going to be definitively resolved if left to the bottom-up logic of seminar-room agonism, university leaders will have to push it through from the top, along with all the other excellent and necessary ‘inters’ of the new knowledge-society regime – inter-sectoralism, inter-professionalism, dynamic and agile Engagement with dynamic private and civic Collaborators, and so on. Now, whilst Nigel’s notion of the ‘forcing’ of knowledge seems potentially more subtle and interesting than this increasingly hectoring management ideology, a somewhat ‘traditionalist’ note still needs to be struck by way of caution, because to see universities as agentic interventionists at all is to risk missing the central point and purpose, even today, of their existence.

Gregor McLennan

International partnerships: a legal guide for universities

Greetings mid-July.  Susan and I have been travelling a lot via our respective jobs, so please excuse the slow pace of updates to GlobalHigherEd.

CoverMy return to Madison a few days ago corresponded with an embargoed (until today) press release from the UK Higher Education International Unit.  The press release relates to a new report (International Partnerships: A Legal Guide for UK Universities) that was published today.  The UK Higher Education International Unit is funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Scottish Funding Council, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, the Department for Employment and Learning (Northern Ireland), Guild HE and Universities UK.  The press release notes:

International Partnerships: A Legal Guide for UK Universities, written by international law firm Eversheds, is designed as a practical ‘route map’ which gathers together in one place all the issues that need to be considered by a university serious about doing business abroad and getting it right from start to finish.

Key features of the guide include:

* Chapters on managing and documenting a partnership, including laying the groundwork, due diligence, troubleshooting and risk assessment with accompanying lists of ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’.
* Guidance on what to do if things go wrong.
* Country-specific case studies detailing legal and higher education jurisdiction, (Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Qatar, UAE and USA)

Professor Rick Trainor, President of Universities UK, said, ‘International activities should protect and enhance a university’s brand, reputation and mission. Getting an international academic relationship right at the outset is always preferable to fixing mistakes later. It is my belief that this guide will prove to be of considerable and lasting practical use to our colleagues in the HE sector who are charged with establishing and running the full range of collaborative ventures with our counterparts abroad.’

Glynne Stanfield, partner and head of international education at Eversheds, said: ‘Having been involved in providing legal support to the International Unit at Universities UK since its inception, we are delighted to have produced a guide for the sector on international activities. We have seen a major increase in the international activities of universities over the last few years; we expect that trend to accelerate and we hope the guide assists universities to do so. As an international law firm we fully recognise the increasing importance to the UK of international activities particularly in education, one of the UK’s key export markets.’

International partnerships have, to date, been a success story for UK universities, but gone are the days when the terms of collaboration could be agreed between Vice-Chancellors on no more than a handshake. UK universities are sophisticated international collaborators and are increasingly taking account of legal issues when entering overseas partnerships.  The guide conveys the complexities of the law in an accessible and readable format.

A fuller summary of the report is available in their newsletter (International Focus: 15/07/09), which includes the ‘lifecycle’ image below.

lifecycle

The UK Higher Education International Unit has been attempting, over the last several years, to support UK universities in the “internationalization” process through a range of activities, including:

  • Assembling timely and high quality data and information about international developments and movements in higher education, and adding value to them through research and analysis designed to develop foresight about international trends and their potential impact on UK HEIs;
  • Making the results of this work readily available to UK HEIs and providing a meeting point for the sharing of information about globalisation, and the discussion of issues that arise;
  • Helping to ensure that there is joined-up thinking and appropriate co-ordination between the range of UK organisations involved in international activity related to higher education, thereby increasing its impact and helping to advance the reputation of UK higher education in overseas countries.

This institution emerged in the context of the increasing dependency of UK universities on foreign student-derived revenue, the enhanced involvement of UK universities abroad (with respect to both teaching and research), and the desire of the UK higher education sector to ensure that UK universities are strategic in the context of the emergence of the European Higher Education Area.

It is interesting to note that this detailed 196 page report can only be read by officials representing UK universities, who can access it at this password-protected site.  Following a 12 month UK uni-only phase, the report becomes available for general consumption, and is free.

The issue of general access to informative reports like this one, or reports commissioned by similar organizations in other countries, is shaped by actual and perceived needs to service stakeholders who fund the commissioning agency, the competitive impulse, and historical policy legacies regarding distribution.  Yet we have detected a broad trend towards free, immediate, and open access to these types of reports, in part because of the administrative costs of printing, charging and distributing lengthy reports, but also recognition that the global higher ed landscape is evolving so fast that everyone can benefit from enhanced understandings of how to (re)shape the development process.  International partnerships are, after all, about partnership. This is a long-winded way of suggesting that organizations like the UK Higher Education International Unit, and the American Council on Education’s Center for International Initiatives, should seriously consider adopting an open access policy for relevant reports. Such an approach would enhance the nature of the collaborative development process, and better ensure institutions in other countries understand the logics and rationales — the modi operandi — associated with UK and US partners. There might be some forgone revenue or other costs, yet the broader benefits of sharing knowledge, in a timely and open fashion, as well as the symbolic messages sent out, are well worth considering.

Kris Olds

ps: I should add that the UK Higher Education International Unit kindly sent me a copy of the report, so this is not a whinge to get a copy, but an indirect note of appreciation regarding the quality of the report. :)

Ranking – in a different (CHE) way?

uwe_brandenburg_2006-005nl GlobalHigherEd has been profiling a series of entries on university rankings as an emerging industry and technology of governance. This entry has been kindly prepared for us by Uwe Brandenburg. Since 2006 Uwe has been project manager at the Centre for Higher Education Development (CHE) and CHE Consult, a think tank and consultancy focusing on higher education reform.  Uwe has an MA in Islamic Studies, Politics and Spanish from the University of Münster (Germany),  and an MscEcon in Politics from the University of Wales at Swansea.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Talking about rankings usually means talking about league tables. Values are calculated based on weighed indicators which are then turned into a figure, added and formed into an overall value, often with the index of 100 for the best institution counting down. Moreover, in many cases entire universities are compared and the scope of indicators is somewhat limited. We at the Centre for Higher Education Development (CHE) are highly sceptical about this approach. For more than 10 years we have been running our own ranking system which is so different to the point that  some experts  have argued that it might not be a ranking at all which is actually not true. Just because the Toyota Prius is using a very different technology to produce energy does not exclude it from the species of automobiles. What are then the differences?

uwe1

Firstly, we do not believe in the ranking of entire HEIs. This is mainly due to the fact that such a ranking necessarily blurs the differences within an institution. For us, the target group has to be the starting point of any ranking exercise. Thus, one can fairly argue that it does not help a student looking for a physics department to learn that university A is average when in fact the physics department is outstanding, the sociology appalling and the rest is mediocre. It is the old problem of the man with his head in the fire and the feet in the freezer. A doctor would diagnose that the man is in a serious condition while a statistician might claim that over all he is doing fine.

So instead we always rank on the subject level. And given the results of the first ExcellenceRanking which focused on natural sciences and mathematics in European universities with a clear target group of prospective Master and PhD students, we think that this proves the point;  only 4 institutions excelled in all four subjects; another four in three; while most excelled in only one subject. And this was in a quite closely related field.

uwe2

Secondly, we do not create values by weighing indicators and then calculating an overall value. Why is that? The main reason is that any weight is necessarily arbitrary, or in other words political. The person weighing decides which weight to give. By doing so, you pre-decide the outcome of any ranking. You make it even worse when you then add the different values together and create one overall value because this blurs differences between individual indicators.

Say a discipline is publishing a lot but nobody reads it. If you give publications a weight of 2 and citations a weight of one, it will look like the department is very strong. If you do it the other way, it will look pretty weak. If you add the values you make it even worse because you blur the difference between both performances. And those two indicators are even rather closely related. If you summarize results from research indicators with reputation indicators, you make things entirely irrelevant.

Instead, we let the indicator results stand for their own and let the user decide what is important for his or her personal decision-making process. e.g., in the classical ranking we allow the users to create “my ranking” so they can choose the indicators they want to look at and in which order.

Thirdly, we strongly object to the idea of league tables. If the values which create the table are technically arbitrary (because of the weighing and the accumulation), the league table positions create the even worse illusion of distinctive and decisive differences between places. They then bring alive the impression of an existing difference in quality (no time or space here to argue the tricky issue of what quality might be) which is measurable to the percentage point. In other words, that there is a qualitative and objectively recognizable measurable difference between place number 12 and 15. Which is normally not the case.

Moreover, small mathematical differences can create huge differences in league table positions. Take the THES QS: even in the subject cluster SocSci you find a mere difference of 4.3 points on a 100 point scale between league rank 33 and 43. In the overall university rankings, it is a meager 6.7 points difference between rank 21 and 41 going down to a slim 15.3 points difference between rank 100 and 200. That is to say, the league table positions of HEIs might differ by much less than a single point or less than 1% (of an arbitrarily set figure). Thus, it tells us much less than the league position suggests.

Our approach, therefore, is to create groups (top, middle, bottom) which are referring to the performance of each HEI relative to the other HEIs.

uwe3

This means our rankings are not as easily read as the others. However,  we strongly believe in the cleverness of the users. Moreover, we try to communicate at every possible level that every ranking (and therefore also ours) is based on indicators which are chosen by the ranking institution. Consequently, the results of the respective ranking can tell you something about how an HEI performs in the framework of what the ranker thinks interesting, necessary, relevant, etc. Rankings therefore NEVER tell you who is the best but maybe (depending on the methodology) who is performing best (or in our cases better than average) in aspects considered relevant by the ranker.

A small, but highly relevant aspect might be added here. Rankings (in the HE system as well as in other areas of life) might suggest that a result in an indicator proves that an institution is performing well in the area measured by the indicator. Well it does not. All an indicator does is hint at the fact that given the data is robust and relevant, the results give some idea of how close the gap is between the performance of the institution and the best possible result (if such a benchmark exists). The important word is “hint” because “indicare” – from which the word “indicator” derives – means exactly this: a hint, not a proof. And in the case of many quantitative indicators, the “best” or “better” is again a political decision if the indicator stands alone (e.g. are more international students better? Are more exchange agreements better?).

This is why we argue that rankings have a useful function in terms of creating transparency if they are properly used, i.e. if the users are aware of the limitations, the purpose, the target groups and the agenda of the ranking organization and if the ranking is understood as one instrument among various others fit to make whatever decision related to an HEI (study, cooperation, funding, etc.).

Finally, modesty is maybe what a ranker should have in abundance. Running the excellence ranking in three different phases (initial in 2007, second phase with new subjects right now, repetition of natural sciences just starting) I am aware of certainly one thing. However strongly we aim at being sound and coherent, and however intensely we re-evaluate our efforts, there is always the chance of missing something; of not picking an excellent institution. For the world of ranking, Einstein’s conclusion holds a lot of truth:

Not everything that can be counted, counts and not everything that counts can be counted.

For further aspects see:
http://www.che-ranking.de/cms/?getObject=47&getLang=de
http://www.che-ranking.de/cms/?getObject=44&getLang=de
Federkeil, Gero, Rankings and Quality Assurance in Higher Education, in: Higher Education in Europe, 33, (2008), S. 209-218
Federkeil, Gero, Ranking Higher Education Institutions – A European Perspective., in: Evaluation in Higher Education, 2, (2008), S. 35 – 52
Other researchers specialising in this (and often referring to our method) are e.g. Alex Usher, Marijk van der Wende or Simon Marginson.

Uwe Brandenburg

Education cities, knowledge villages, schoolhouses, education hubs, and hotspots: emerging metaphors for global higher ed

Introduction

One of the rationales for the establishment of the GlobalHigherEd blog last September was to highlight and then archive information (e.g., see ‘Foreign university campuses and linkage schemes‘) about the construction of new globalizing knowledge spaces, especially when multiple institutions (and often firms) from different countries are brought together within one space. These may take the form of a branch/overseas/foreign campus, a joint research centre, or perhaps relatively deep transnational linkage schemes (e.g., joint and dual/double degrees, or international consortia of universities).

Examples of such knowledge spaces include:

  • Dubai Knowledge Village (which is hosting Boston University, Harvard University, London School of Business & Finance, Michigan State University, Rochester Institute of Technology)
  • Bahrain Higher Education City (announced December 2006)
  • Kuala Lumpur Education City (which is working with, in the first instance, Royal Holloway, University of London)
  • Singapore’s ‘Global Schoolhouse’ (which is hosting or collaborating with Johns Hopkins University, MIT, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Pennsylvania, INSEAD, University of Chicago, Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, Technische Universität München, Carnegie Mellon University, Stanford University, Cornell University, Duke University, Karolinska Institutet, University of New South Wales (RIP, 2007), ESSEC, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, IIM Bangalore, SP Jain Centre of Management, New York University, DigiPen Institute of Technology, Queen Margaret University)
  • Incheon Free Economic Zone (which is working with, in the first instance, State University of New York at Stony Brook and North Carolina State University)
  • Education City Qatar (which is hosting Carnegie Mellon University, Georgetown University, Northwestern University, Texas A&M University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Weill Cornell Medical College). See this flyover of Education City Qatar to give you one sense of the nature of such a space.

There are other such centres of actual or planned knowledge production (including Abu Dhabi, which is hosting INSEAD, Johns Hopkins University, MIT, New York University, and the Sorbonne), but these will have to suffice as a basis for today’s entry.

It is important to note that in addition to these knowledge spaces, individual university campuses of significant scale (e.g., King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST)), and associated developments that are more geographically dispersed (e.g., foreign university campuses in China and Vietnam), are increasingly receiving attention from stakeholder organizations, such as the American Council of Education (ACE), the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education (OBHE), the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC), the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), and media outlets including the Chronicle of Higher Education, Insider Higher Education, and the New York Times. In all cases these observers have, more often than not, taken to using terms like “hotspots” (e.g., in the ACE report pictured to the right) when describing the emergence of new spaces of knowledge production, regardless of whether they are functioning or not.

Over the last several years both of us have noted the intense interest in these new knowledge spaces, especially from traditional knowledge producers (and associated stakeholders) who have dominated the global higher education landscape. People and the institutions they represent are curious and concerned, and in the process they react to, and they produce, novel concepts including metaphors like “hotspots” as they make sense of the fast changing context.

Even developing a basic mapping of this changing context is a challenging task, a point Kavita Pandit made in Boston this week at a conference one of us (Kris) is attending. Tangible developments aside, it is also easy to miss “seeing” these initiatives for they tend to sit outside of our geo-politico/economic and methodological nationalist (and statist) frameworks for understanding higher education, a point Arjun Appadurai has insightfully made in speeches and writings. This said, a small number of scholars are doing their best to break down the national holdings, if we can use this term, that guide our analytical and research imaginations, with respect to higher education (broadly defined).

In this relatively long entry we want to highlight one fascinating dimension of the development process that we have been taken for granted – the metaphors that are associated with many of these new knowledge spaces.

Metaphors and their uses

Metaphors such as education city, or global knowledge hub, are tropes that enable us to “reduce the unfamiliar to the familiar” (Smith and Katz, 1993: 69). Familiar examples of economic metaphors that guide our economic imaginaries include trickle down, rising tides, trade wars, rollercoaster, flat earth, invisible hand, and creative destruction.

Metaphors are key elements in the production of discourses, including discourses about the changing nature of higher education, urban and regional development processes, and so on. Yet we take metaphors for granted.

While some scholars have spent their lives analyzing the nature of metaphors, there are three basic points we would like to emphasize when thinking about the metaphors associated with the types of globalizing knowledge spaces we briefly highlighted above.

First, everyone uses metaphors because metaphors are effective and necessary in projecting views, in constructing arguments, in enabling the transformation of the thinking of others, and in generating anxiety. As Cornelissen et al (2008: 9) suggest, in relationship to thinking about organizational behavior:

Metaphors connect realms of human experience and imagination. They guide our perceptions and interpretations of reality and help us to formulate our visions and goals. In doing these things, metaphors facilitate and further our understanding of the world.

Thus, the development of metaphors like education city, knowledge hub, knowledge village, and global schoolhouse, imply an initiative that is associated with (a) the production of knowledge (which is more than information), (b) education providers (broadly defined), and (c) geographical proximity (up to the scale of “the city”). These metaphors reflect the relativization of scale (see one previous entry on this in GlobalHigherEd), where higher education systems are increasingly being denationalized; reshaped, as it were, by forces and actors that are thinking at, and operating at, scales other than the national. Thus these new development initiatives are imbued with territorial development objectives; objectives associated with the building of knowledge economies and societies

In conveying a message, such metaphors simultaneously serve as vehicles to destabilize our taken-for granted assumptions, to create the shock of the new, to generate anxiety. As Don Miller (2006: 64) notes, for example:

The face of the metaphoric new is one of strangeness, even of disconcerting incongruity. It upsets the established order. New metaphors may well enthuse those ready to pursue difference; but they frighten others wanting to maintain some existing order of things.

The target of such a message includes the media, and especially universities that have not yet stretched their institutional fabrics out across space, either in the form of joint/dual/double degrees, or branch campuses. Senior international officers for Western universities, for example, are increasingly being asked to reflect upon the pros and cons of linking into these new knowledge spaces. The presence of such metaphors creates a legible and identifiable target for concern, for deliberation.

Second, metaphors need to do work, they need to struggle, and they can be left open to critique and ridicule, incomprehension, or internal contradiction, if not effectively developed. This ties into a more general point about the production of hegemony, of truth. As Nietzsche (1909: 173-188; cited in Miller, 2006) puts it:

What then is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonymies, anthromorphisms – which, after long usage, seem to a nation fixed, canonic and binding: truths are illusions of which one has forgotten they are illusions.

Leaving aside debates about the construction of ‘truth’, it is clear that some of the metaphors developed and circulated, to date, have done more work than others in creating a legible and coherent understanding of what is going on, or what might be on offer. Thus we see some highly effective metaphors (e.g., Qatar Education City), which have come to be accepted, and legible in higher education circles in the targeted West, while others are ineffective, and perhaps far too broadly constructed. Incheon Free Economic Zone, for example, is a state planned development zone which is supposed to include a:

global center for cultural and intellectual exchange,” explains Hee Yhon Song, founder and former head of the College of Northeast Asian Studies, in Incheon City, and a key broker in the new agreements.

Mr. Song predicts that Incheon could eventually play host to more than 40 research institutes and at least seven foreign campuses, luring students from across the region. Eventually, he and others believe, South Korea could be the center of a regional government, along the lines of Brussels in the European Union.

Incheon, though, lacks a knowledge-based economy metaphor. “Free economic zone” smacks of export processing activities (factories), yet another ‘iconic’ world trade centre building, and somewhat sterile industrial landscapes. This said, these are early days in the Incheon’s development process, both materially and discursively. And on another level, might Free Economic Zone be a more accurate metaphor for what is going on in this era of academic capitalism, at least in some of the development initiative that are bubbling up around the globe?

Other metaphors that are perhaps too vague, and not legible at a transnational scale, include “global schoolhouse”. “Schoolhouse” is an troublesome metaphor in many countries for it implies primary level education only. Another common metaphor, “education hub” (as in Hong Kong Education Hub) is left open to critique for it can just as easily imply flow through, and tunnel/vacant/vacuous just as much as its other meaning (centrality of “activity, region, or network”).

Yet one place – Singapore – that has employed both of these problematic metaphors, succeeded in achieving its discursive objectives when it created an exemplary metaphor: “Boston of the East”. As Rear RADM (NS) Teo Chee Hean, Minister for Education and Second Minister for Defence, put it in 2000:

Our vision, in shorthand notation, is to become the Boston of the East. Boston is not just MIT or Harvard. The greater Boston area boasts of over 200 universities, colleges, research institutes and thousands of companies. It is a focal point of creative energy; a hive of intellectual, research, commercial and social activity. We want to create an oasis of talent in Singapore: a knowledge hub, an “ideas-exchange”, a confluence of people and idea streams, an incubator for inspiration

In short, metaphors are necessary, but not all metaphors work equally well in attempting to bring to life such development initiatives.

Third, metaphors are political, in the broadest sense of political. They are strategically deployed to structure and interpret events, development processes, development projects, and so on (Kelly, 2001). This leads the human geographer, Trevor Barnes (1996: 159), to argue that:

The more general point is that we must continually think critically about the metaphors we use—where they come from, why they were proposed, whose interests they represent, and the nature of their implications. Not to do so can lead us to be the slaves of some defunct master of metaphors.

So, while metaphors provide “color and entertainment” (Czarniawska-Joerges and Joerges, 1988), while they are designed to convince, and while they work (and fail), they also conceal as much, if not more, than they profile.

Take Kuala Lumpur Education City (KLEC), for example. KLEC builds upon the successes of Education City Qatar in generating a legible space for the siting of foreign universities in Malaysia, in and around the national capital and the Multimedia Super Corridor that Timothy Bunnell has so ably assessed. KLEC, though, is primarily a property development vehicle. KLEC’s key strategic partner TH Properties Sdn Bhd., a national property development firm is a subsidiary of Lembaga Tabung Haji, an established financial institution. As KLEC notes:

TH Properties’ most significant development to date is Bandar Enstek. Bandar Enstek is strategically located just 8 minutes from the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) and 10 minutes away from the Main Terminal of Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). It is only 38 minutes from the Kuala Lumpur City Centre via the ERL and a mere 5 minutes from the Sepang F1 Circuit. It is a RM9.2 billion integrated township set over 5,116 acres of prime land. Expected to be fully completed in 2025, Bandar Enstek will be home to 150,000 residents who will enjoy high quality communications infrastructure, fixed and wireless connections included, to support unlimited broadband applications provided by TH Properties’ technology partner, Telekom Malaysia Bhd.

Education and property development, or education for property development? How many other education cities are in reality for-profit residential or industrial property development vehicles, first and foremost?

Other exclusions from, or obfuscations generated by the education/knowledge production metaphors include the fact that some of the so-called hotspots, especially in Saudi Arabia, have substantial security infrastructure to prevent attacks on faculty by Al Qaeda. Or exclusions related to the gendered or disciplinary structure of such knowledge spaces, for they are, and will inevitably be relatively masculine, and selective with respect to disciplinary offerings. But a more (perhaps!) accurate metaphor like Science and Engineering Dudes from the US Ivy League Hub just does not do it.

Or take the case of Qatar and Singapore, two ambitious global education hubs that proudly include highly ranked universities like MIT and Carnegie Mellon University, while (by accident or design) letting universities like Calgary and Queen Margaret fend for themselves in the producing their own global identities via their concurrent attachments to these two fast developing knowledge spaces. What forms of strategic selectivity are at work? Or in other terms, who is flying pre-paid business class to the Boston of the East, and the Boston of the Middle East?

Concluding comments

The globalization of higher education is continuing apace, and metaphors are being produced, projected, and consumed; they reflect, guide and construct our economic and higher ed imaginaries. And there is no sign we can do without them.

But if the “world needs a multitude of new metaphors leading us to a better future” though “metaphor, like life, is full of risks” (Miller, 2006: 65), are we happy with the existing metaphors that exist in relationship to these globalizing knowledge spaces? If metaphors have to work, perhaps we should also be doing more work on the metaphors too, for they are important dimensions of this fascinating development process.

References

Barnes, T. (1996) Logics of Dislocation: Models, Metaphors, and Meanings of Economic Space, New York: Guilford.

Cornelissen, J.P., Oswick, C., Christensen, L.T., Phillips, N. (2008 ) ‘Metaphors in organizational research: context, modalities, and implications for research – introduction’, Organization Studies, 29(7): 7-22.

Czarniawska-Joerges, B., and Joerges, B. (1988 ) ‘How to control things with words. On organizational talk and organizational control’, Management Communication Quarterly, 2(2): 170-193.

Kelly, P.F. (2001) ‘Metaphors of meltdown: political representations of economic space in the Asian financial crisis’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 19(6): 719-742.

Miller, D. (2006) ‘The politics of metaphor’, Theory, Culture and Society, 23(2-3): 63-65.

Smith, N and C.Katz (1993) ‘Grounding metaphor: towards a spatialized politics’, in M. Keith and S. Pile (eds.) Place and the Politics of Identity, London: Routledge.

Kris Olds and Susan Robertson

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