The Hazy View (on Yale-NUS) from Beijing

Greetings from Beijing, where I am attempting to build formal relationships between my department and two key Chinese partners. Apart from the expected relationship building (lubricated by brutal quantities of baijiu the other evening), negotiations, wonderful hospitality, and linked sightseeing (including to the “real Great Wall,” not one tourist in sight!), I’ve genuinely enjoyed the visit and have many hopes for the types of international collaborative education initiatives we’ve been hatching plans for.

At the end of every day I’ve tried catching up on emails, and have found some interesting Google alerts piling up regarding Yale-NUS College. I’ve been able to examine some of them, though others are on websites I am unable to access due to censorship of the internet in China. More broadly, I’ve been unable to examine and use my Twitter account (which is a great source of information via the hashtags), our Department’s Facebook account, any WordPress.com site (including the WordPress.com version of my own blog), and sites like Human Rights Watch’s press release about the latest eruption of debate about academic freedom and human rights on the Yale-NUS College campus. I also can’t access my own personal website because is located on a WordPress.com site.

Given my recent postings on academic freedom in Singapore (see ‘Deterritorializing Academic Freedom: Reflections Inspired by Yale-NUS College (and the London Eye)‘) I’m wanted to weigh in on this latest debate but will hold off until I get the time in South Korea this week to read everything I need to, free of the Chinese censor’s reach. But catching aspects of the Yale-NUS debate from the ground, here in hazy Beijing, reminds me of:

  • The pros and cons of engaging on a programmatic basis (e.g., degrees, human mobility, joint research, training regarding the publication process) versus via forms of “commercial presence” (to use WTO/GATS parlance).
  • The importance of identifying and being clear about “non-negotiables” as detailed arrangements — global assemblages really — are put together and brought to life.
  • The differences that exist between systems, but just as important the problematics associated with constructing binaries (East vs West; Asia vs West; nation vs nation; culture vs culture) where people posit essential qualities and characteristics, including when viewed from the standpoint of the global community of scholars we are a part of.
  • The importance of drawing in regional expertise, including people who understand the political economy of state-society-economy relations, which sets the broad context for the establishment of university to university relations.

Being here also reminds me of how inaccessible (in China) my department’s Facebook page and Twitter feed is, as well as the Facebook page for the Association of American Geographer’s specialty group I am affiliated with. In such a context, should we (as a department, as a specialty group) care? I do know this entry on Inside Higher Ed (which is not censored) can be read in China, but it can’t be when posted on my WordPress.com site. Again, should I care and migrate my own websites to unique URLs not associated with the WordPress platform? Or is this giving in (not that my personal website really matters, but it’s the principle issue I’m thinking about here)? But if we really want to reach our Chinese colleagues and their students, we’re de facto excluding them on some levels using Facebook, Twitter, WordPress.com, etc. Is this an issue worthy of more discussion?

I’m only posting this entry on Inside Higher Ed for now — the mirror version on GlobalHigherEd [this one] will have to wait until I get to Seoul’s airport. And the entry I had wanted to write about Yale-NUS College will have to wait until I get settled in Yeosu for the next four days, free of China’s internet censorship system.

Kris Olds

Heavy Lifting vs Spectral Presence in Global Higher Ed

As I shuffled through the morning paper today, supping a much needed cup of coffee, I came across a story about the innovative architect Thom Mayne (of Morphosis) being selected to design the first building of Cornell University’s Applied Sciences NYC campus. This unique development initiative, outlined in detail here (‘Unsettling the university-territory relationship via Applied Sciences NYC’), is rolling forward with considerable speed.

Since Cornell (with Israel’s Technion) won the competition in December 2011, a Cornell/Technion leadership team was appointed in February 2012, and Andrew C. Winters (formerly of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Office) was appointed to “lead the physical development process.”

Taken together, the involvement of a skilled and high-powered leadership team from both Cornell & Technion, along with a NY power broker (Winters), and highly qualified designers like Morphis as well as Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (for the master plan), imply that this project is serious business.

CornellNYC Tech, “home of the Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute,” is really just the start of a broader development agenda, which includes the right to bring in other partner universities (and indeed non-university actors) from the US and abroad to their Roosevelt Island campus.

What is interesting about this project, in comparison to one associated with another Ivy League school (Yale, which is working with the National University of Singapore to develop Yale-NUS College), is that the Cornell-led development process reflects a significantly deeper level of commitment to being grounded in the host city of the new campus. What do I mean by being ‘grounded’ and why might it matter?

Being grounded means establishing commercial, legal, material (including human), and discursive presence in the host city. It means being present such that one is entangled in the regulatory, socio-cultural, physical, political, and institutional landscape of the city. It is a form of presence that leads to being drawn upon, and drawing upon, others also present in that city. It means being knitted into development processes where traded and untraded interdependencies (that “take the form of conventions, informal rules, and habits that coordinate economic actors under conditions of uncertainty”) help bring the city-region development process to life.

In the Cornell process, their mission and objectives have led them to control and be fully responsible for all stages (apart from coordinating the bid and review process, which was guided by the New York City Economic Development Corporation) of the development process including:

  • The campus planning and design process
  • The physical development process
  • The research-led knowledge production process
  • The teaching and learning process (in classrooms, labs, etc.).

The process of publicly bidding to develop Applied Sciences NYC (see my summary of the bid process here), then getting deeply involved in campus and building design process, the actual development process, and academic planning for the complex, effectively sutures Cornell’s identity, and its future, to the global city of New York.

Given this stance to the development process, a large number of Cornell and Technion faculty and administrators will be present in NYC, which will lead them to form deep social relations with key actors in the city. Some of these social relations will be sought out, though many will be accidental, subject to the unruly laws of serendipity in the metropolis. Physical co-presence matters to the socio-economic development process in cities, and the lead university (Cornell) behind Applied Sciences NYC seems to recognize this, as did Technion and Mayor Bloomberg.

In the Yale-NUS College case, Yale’s mission and objectives have led them to gift their brand (‘Yale’) for a fee, while providing input to a NUS-controlled:

  • Campus planning and design process
  • Physical development process
  • Teaching and learning process (in classrooms, labs, etc.).

Of course the newly hired faculty will have business cards that say ‘Yale-NUS College’ on them, and promotional materials flag the Yale name everywhere (a point made in this insightful article by Karin Fischer), but this is really a Singaporean project. Two proxy measures of this are that (a) that the newly hired faculty will receive Singaporean contracts, and (b) graduates only receive a degree from the National University of Singapore (not even a dual degree, a now common option in global higher ed). Of course a few administrators will be seconded from Yale, but they will inevitably retain their tenured jobs back in New Haven, CT.

Yale is thus the equivalent of Wharton when it helped provide much of the intellectual and organizational guidance to develop Singapore Management University (est. 2000), except for the fact that Wharton and the University of Pennsylvania did not sell the Wharton/Penn brand, nor did they play up their role in the SMU development process.

There are pros and cons to each model, of course, but I can’t help but wonder what the direct and indirect implications will be of Cornell’s higher level of material and non-material commitment to their new global city venture versus that being undertaken by Yale (at least in a spectral sense) in its newly adopted global city. Being present while being absent provides some latitude of freedom to reduce risk, and cost, but as INSEAD’s presence in Singapore demonstrates, and as Cornell and Technion’s presence in New York indicates, there are a myriad of rewards to being present – to be seen to be contributing, to be seen to be sharing the costs, to being on the ground, and to be demonstrating a medium- to long-term level of confidence in risky experiments in global higher education/global city development.

Kris Olds

Advocacy vs Analysis and the Case for Learning While Doing

Spring Recess as it is called here is coming to a close, alas. My highlight was camping for three days on a bluff overlooking the confluence of the Wisconsin & Mississippi rivers — the scenery was spectacular, the company wonderful, and it was a true pleasure to be disconnected from ‘the grid’ for a while.

Since coming back to Madison I discovered that Yale faculty passed a rather bizarre, in my view, resolution about politics in Singapore. Really, come on folks, if your core concern is with how Yale governs the implementation of its internationalization strategy, how Yale is led, and the nature of Yale’s overseas engagements, then surely it makes more sense to focus the resolution on Yale (your university) vs the country of Singapore!

While I was away I also learned, via the various mechanisms I use to track links, RTs (via Twitter), and repostings, that Dr. Michael Montesana’s recent entry (‘Is Yale a Reliable Partner for the National University of Singapore?’) generated a large volume of traffic on both the WordPress.com and Inside Higher Ed sites that GlobalHigherEd is hosted on. A variety of people from around the world also emailed me about it.

A noteworthy aspect of the feedback I received was that readers (including many Singaporeans) were appreciative of Dr. Montesano’s concentrated focus on Yale versus Singapore, and the broader histories and networks that intersect with the Yale-NUS College formation process. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with his style of argumentation, and final recommendations, Montesano’s entry was flagged as providing a relatively novel and wide window (not the window, of course) on the Yale side of the development process, especially by someone who knows and cares about both Yale and Singapore.

Now, let’s stand back and reflect on this situation.

First, there is an abundance of advocacy-oriented representations that are required to legitimize such global higher ed ventures, but there is remarkably little concurrent (and autonomous) analysis of the key related issues. And while Montesano’s entry is an opinion piece, it is framed in an analytical way, seeking to identify the complicated forces, contradictions, currents of thought, and networks, that led Yale’s leaders to seek a link (via Yale-NUS College) to this unique Southeast Asian city-state.

Second, let’s think about audience. Montesano’s entry is about a higher education phenomenon, and people associated with universities have a thirst for knowledge about what is really going on regarding the plethora of objectives, the complicated politics, and the ever evolving constellation of social relations, that bring an endeavor like Yale-NUS College to life. This thirst for more nuanced and lengthy forms of argumentation drew people to his entry for he is making a sustained argument that is designed to be engaged with, debated about, agreed or disagreed with.

The case for learning while doing

One of the lessons I am starting to take away about debates about Yale-NUS, as well as other forms of higher education experiments (e.g., the European Higher Education Area), is that it is not enough for the key stakeholders to advocate while only providing basic background information. Why is this so? Well, the stakes in these ventures are too high, there is a thirst for knowledge about the emerging, and most people associated with higher education have a critical-analytical instinct guiding their thinking (as must be the case).

Given the above, I would argue that much more needs to be done to engender concurrent research and deliberative fora about the transformative initiatives universities are considering, being drawn into, and are developing (often with foreign partners). This is a point my Europe-based colleagues (esp., Anne Corbett, Roger Dale, and Susan Robertson) have been making for some time about the Bologna Process, where there is an abundance of advocacy, and contract-derived research, but a paucity of ‘intellectually autonomous’ analysis about the deeper meanings, histories, and implications of the Bologna Process. See, for example, ‘From where I sit – We’re scholars, not politicians‘ (Times Higher Education, 3 November 2011), as well as ‘Time for blue skies thinking about the future of higher education in Europe,’ University World News, 8 April 2012).

What to do about the paucity of research and analysis about emerging experiments in globalizing higher ed? Well, remember that we (the experimenting universities) are higher education institutions with significant in-house research capabilities! Using our own resources, and our connections to relevant funding councils, we could easily do some or all of the following:

  • Upper level undergraduates, and graduate students, could be funded to assist in the development process, effectively ensuring that they engage in intensive forms of participant observation. Their experiences could generate the data for honor’s theses, MA and PhD projects, and/or research-based publications and related websites. Collaboration between students in partner universities would likely build bridges, and generate enhanced understandings of the development process.
  • Active universities, perhaps working in conjunction with key funding councils and foundations, could fund basic (blue skies) research about a wide array of relevant issues, debates, and phenomenon. This would likely have to take a ‘special initiatives’ format given that this kind of phenomenon has a unique life-cycle, at least with respect to the development process.
  • Relevant business and law schools, as well as science and technology studies programs, could develop detailed case studies stretching from the formative phases of negotiations through all stages of the implementation process, the launch of a new venture, and the first few years of its existence.
  • Archives of all key correspondence, minutes of meetings, curricula in various stages of development, contracts and agreements, etc., could be systematically preserved for internal and external researchers, current and future. Open access sites of documentation could be easily established and incrementally added to while simultaneously moving through all stages of the implementation process. This type of information could also be drawn upon by the higher education media, with one obvious benefit being less risk of error of interpretation.

There are likely many other ideas along these lines, though as Anne Corbett implies, they would have to be organized in a manner that respects “academic values and intellectual autonomy.”

In closing, there is strong desire for more information, transparency, and especially nuanced analysis about the emerging landscape of global higher education and research. If we just ‘do’ then we miss opportunities to learn along the way, and help educated ourselves and interested others. And apart from learning, even critical ‘blue skies’ research can feed back into the development process and engender more informed and nuanced debate on the complex realities of such endeavors.

Sounds like a win-win proposition to me.

Kris Olds

From rhetoric to reality: unpacking the numbers and practices of global higher ed

ihepnov2009Numbers, partnerships, linkages, and collaboration: some key terms that seem to be bubbling up all over the place right now.

On the numbers front, the ever active Cliff Adelman released, via the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), a new report titled The Spaces Between Numbers: Getting International Data on Higher Education Straight (November 2009). As the IHEP press release notes:

The research report, The Spaces Between Numbers: Getting International Data on Higher Education Straight, reveals that U.S. graduation rates remain comparable to those of other developed countries despite news stories about our nation losing its global competitiveness because of slipping college graduation rates. The only major difference—the data most commonly highlighted, but rarely understood—is the categorization of graduation rate data. The United States measures its attainment rates by “institution” while other developed nations measure their graduation rates by “system.”

The main target audience of this new report seems to be the OECD, though we (as users) of international higher ed data can all benefit from a good dig through the report. Adelman’s core objective is facilitating the creation of a new generation of indicators, indicators that are a lot more meaningful and policy-relevant than those that currently exist.

Second, Universities UK (UUK) released a data-laden report titled The impact of universities on the UK economy. As the press release notes:

Universities in the UK now generate £59 billion for the UK economy putting the higher education sector ahead of the agricultural, advertising, pharmaceutical and postal industries, according to new figures published today.

This is the key finding of Universities UK’s latest UK-wide study of the impact of the higher education sector on the UK economy. The report – produced for Universities UK by the University of Strathclyde – updates earlier studies published in 1997, 2002 and 2006 and confirms the growing economic importance of the sector.

The study found that, in 2007/08:

  • The higher education sector spent some £19.5 billion on goods and services produced in the UK.
  • Through both direct and secondary or multiplier effects this generated over £59 billion of output and over 668,500 full time equivalent jobs throughout the economy. The equivalent figure four years ago was nearly £45 billion (25% increase).
  • The total revenue earned by universities amounted to £23.4 billion (compared with £16.87 billion in 2003/04).
  • Gross export earnings for the higher education sector were estimated to be over £5.3 billion.
  • The personal off-campus expenditure of international students and visitors amounted to £2.3 billion.

Professor Steve Smith, President of Universities UK, said: “These figures show that the higher education sector is one of the UK’s most valuable industries. Our universities are unquestionably an outstanding success story for the economy.

See pp 16-17 regarding a brief discussion of the impact of international student flows into the UK system.

These two reports are interesting examples of contributions to the debate about the meaning and significance of higher education vis a vis relative growth and decline at a global scale, and the value of a key (ostensibly under-recognized) sector of the national (in this case UK) economy.

And third, numbers, viewed from the perspectives of pattern and trend identification, were amply evident in a new Thomson Reuters’ report (CHINA: Research and Collaboration in the New Geography of Science) co-authored by the data base crunchers from Evidence Ltd., a Leeds-based firm and recent Thomson Reuters acquisition. One valuable aspect of this report is that it unpacks the broad trends, and flags key disciplinary and institutional geographies to China’s new geography of science. As someone who worked at the National University of Singapore (NUS) for four years, I can understand why NUS is now China’s No.1 institutional collaborator (see p. 9), though the why issues are not discussed in this type of broad mapping cum PR report for Evidence & Thomson Reuters.

Table4

Shifting tack, two new releases about international double and joint degrees — one (The Graduate International Collaborations Project: A North American Perspective on Joint and Dual Degree Programs) by the North American Council of Graduate Schools (CGS), and one (Joint and Double Degree Programs: An Emerging Model for Transatlantic Exchange) by the International Institute for Education (IIE) and the Freie Universität Berlin — remind us of the emerging desire to craft more focused, intense and ‘deep’ relations between universities versus the current approach which amounts to the promiscuous acquisition of hundreds if not thousands of memoranda of understanding (MoUs).

IIEFUBcoverThe IIE/Freie Universität Berlin book (link here for the table of contents) addresses various aspects of this development process:

The book seeks to provide practical recommendations on key challenges, such as communications, sustainability, curriculum design, and student recruitment. Articles are divided into six thematic sections that assess the development of collaborative degree programs from beginning to end. While the first two sections focus on the theories underpinning transatlantic degree programs and how to secure institutional support and buy-in, the third and fourth sections present perspectives on the beginning stages of a joint or double degree program and the issue of program sustainability. The last two sections focus on profiles of specific transatlantic degree programs and lessons learned from joint and double degree programs in the European context.

It is clear that international joint and double degrees are becoming a genuine phenomenon; so much so that key institutions including the IIE, the CGS, and the EU are all paying close attention to the degrees’ uses, abuses, and efficacy. Thus we should view this new book as an attempt to both promote, but in a manner that examines the many forces that shape the collaborative process across space and between institutions. International partnerships are not simple to create, yet they are being demanded by more and more stakeholders.  Why?  Dissatisfaction that the rhetoric of ‘internationalization’ does not match up to the reality, and there is a ‘deliverables’ problem.

Indeed, we hosted some senior Chinese university officials here in Madison several months ago and they used the term “ghost MoUs”, reflecting their dissatisfaction with filling filing cabinet after filing cabinet with signed MoUs that lead to absolutely nothing. In contrast, engagement via joint and double degrees, for example, or other forms of partnership (e.g., see International partnerships: a legal guide for universities), cannot help but deepen the level of connection between institutions of higher education on a number of levels. It is easy to ignore a MoU, but not so easy to ignore a bilateral scheme with clearly defined deliverables, a timetable for assessment, and a budget.

AlQudsBrandeisThe value of tangible forms of international collaboration was certainly on view when I visited Brandeis University earlier this week.  Brandeis’ partnership with Al-Quds University (in Jerusalem) links “an Arab institution in Jerusalem and a Jewish-sponsored institution in the United States in an exchange designed to foster cultural understanding and provide educational opportunities for students, faculty and staff.”  Projects undertaken via the partnership have included administrative exchanges, academic exchanges, teaching and learning projects, and partnership documentation (an important but often forgotten about activity). The level of commitment to the partnership at Brandeis was genuinely impressive.

In the end, as debates about numbers, rankings, partnerships, MoUs — internationalization more generally — show us, it is only when we start grinding through the details and ‘working at the coal face’ (like Brandeis and Al-Quds seem to be doing), though in a strategic way, can we really shift from rhetoric to reality.

Kris Olds

East Asia Summit calls for the revival of Nalanda University: thinking and acting beyond the nation?

The emergence of new supra-national movements with respect to higher education and research continue apace.  From the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), through to international consortia of universities, through to bits of universities embedded in others within distant territories (e.g., Georgia Tech’s unit within the National University of Singapore), the higher education landscape is in the process of being reconfigured and globalized. Yet, is it really that novel in an historical sense?

Today’s call at the East Asian Summit for the revival of Nalanda University (see below) draws upon development outcomes in higher education that took place well before the establishment of medieval universities like Oxford, Bologna, or Lund. As Sashi Tahroor notes:

Founded in 427 A.D. by Buddhist monks at the time of Kumaragupta I (415-455 A.D.), Nalanda was an extraordinary centre of learning for seven centuries. The name probably comes from a combination of nalam (lotus, the symbol of knowledge) and da, meaning “to give”, so Nalanda means “Giver of Knowledge”. And that is exactly what the university did, attracting prize students from all over India, as well as from China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Persia, Sri Lanka, Tibet and Turkey. At its peak, Nalanda played host to more than 10,000 students — not just Buddhists, but of various religious traditions — and its education, provided in its heyday by 2,000 world-renowned professors, was completely free.

The establishment of new types of universities in like Nalanda University, Øresund University, or the recently opened Universidade Federal da Integração Latino-Americana (UNILA), remind us that there is an emerging desire for novel spaces of knowledge production that think and act beyond the nation.  A related question, then, is how effective will these new configurations be, and can supporting stakeholders (including nation-states) really act beyond the nation?

NalandaUstmt

Kris Olds

Debate: Asia vs Europe: which region is more geopolitically incompetent?

LKYdebate

Can regions think and act strategically? In which ways are Europe and Asia geopolitically (in)competent? How does one speak for “Asia” and “Europe”? Why do Mahbubani and Emmott seek to speak for “Asia” and “Europe”? Link here for a National University of Singapore (NUS) webcast of this recent debate, and here for a lecture synopsis.

Foreign university campuses and linkage schemes: opportunities and challenges in early 2008

The establishment of overseas/branch/foreign campuses, and substantial international university linkage schemes, continues to generate news announcements and debate.

Over the last two months, for example, Queen Margaret University in Scotland announced that it would be Singapore’s first foreign campus set up by a UK university (a fact that received little media coverage in Singapore).

The University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business (GSB) announced that their Singapore-based campus would be doubling in size by 2009 (a fact that received much media coverage in Singapore), while the University of Chicago’s Financial Mathematics Department announced it would establish a graduate program in Singapore, likely in association with Chicago’s Stevanovich Center for Financial Mathematics. Further details are available here.

Finally, on the Singapore front, MIT and Singapore’s National Research Foundation (NRF) jointly announced the establishment of the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology Centre (SMART), a “complex of research centres set up by world-class research universities and corporations working collaboratively with Singapore’s research community”. As MIT describes it:

SMART is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) largest international research endeavor and the first research center of its kind located outside Cambridge, Mass. It will offer laboratories and computational facilities for research in several areas, including biomedical science, water resources and the environment, and possible additional research thrusts that encompass such topics as interactive digital media, energy, and scientific and engineering computation.

Besides serving as an intellectual hub for robust interactions between MIT and global researchers in Singapore, the SMART Centre will also provide MIT and Singapore new and unique opportunities to perform interdisciplinary experimental, computational and translational research that takes advantage of MIT’s long-standing collaborations in Singapore.

The joint press release can be downloaded here. Needless to say this was also a high profile media item in Singapore.

Noteworthy, too, is the fact that the Chicago and MIT initiatives in Singapore involve regular (versus contract) base campus faculty and researchers, reflecting core principles guiding their respective internationalization agendas. This is clearly enabled by direct and indirect Government of Singapore support, and relatively high tuition fees.

Meanwhile, in the Middle East and East Asia, the University of Calgary-Qatar (a joint venture between the University of Calgary and the Hamad Medical Corporation), and the University of Nottingham Ningbo, have both been busy searching out faculty (contract/contingent/secondment/visiting only, it seems) for their respective campuses.

nottningboroom.jpgEmployment sites always provide insights into how these types of ventures are represented, and how the transnational staffing dimension is handled, so check out what is on offer at Calgary-Qatar and Nottingham-Ningbo. I must admit, however, that the sterile curtained room on offer to three year-long contract faculty in Ningbo (photo to the left) does not exactly look appealing, exciting though China (and Ningbo) are. Perhaps they just hired a bad photographer:)

Over in Saudi Arabia the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), which we have written about before, is filling media outlets like the Economist with full page advertisements for senior and mid-level administrative staff. The largesse available to KAUST, and the Singaporean influence on its development model, was also evident when it announced, incrementally in globally circulated press releases, that it was moving forward on substantial collaborative ventures, at an institutional scale, with the American University in Cairo, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, Imperial College London, Institut Français du Pétrole, National University of Singapore, Stanford University, Technische Universität München, University of California, Berkeley, University of Texas at Austin, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. These are substantial and lucrative linkages, according to Changing Higher Education, with Berkeley’s Mechanical Engineering Department (the lead linkage unit at Berkeley), for example, receiving US $28 million to participate in this scheme between 2008 and 2013.

KAUST is also attempting to leapfrog in the development process by buying in individual scientific support via their Global Research Partnership (GRP) Investigator competition. This scheme, which will initially support 12 “high caliber researchers” from the “world’s leading research universities”, allows KAUST greater flexibility to target individual researchers in fields or universities that might not be enabled via institutional linkage schemes like the ones mentioned above.

kaustcampus.jpgInterestingly KAUST’s graphic design consultants have worked very hard to create a sunny high tech image for the campus, which is still being developed, though they actually have less to work with (on the ground) than does Nottingham in Ningbo, not to mention significant security concerns to plan for when foreigners (especially US citizens) are involved. It just goes to show you how much work good or bad graphics (still & video, including the fascinating five minute long campus profile below) can do in creating distinctive representations of campuses such that they might appeal to mobile faculty and researchers living outside of the host country.

And on the analytical news front, Inside Higher Ed, and the New York-based Social Science Research Council’s new Knowledge Rules blog, both posted critical articles on the overseas campus institutional development model by Andrew Ross, a professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University (NYU), a university we profiled with respect to institutional strategic issues last autumn. Finally, Inside Higher Ed provided coverage of one initiative that had California Polytechnic State University, working with Jubail University College in Saudi Arabia, to develop approximately $6 million worth of programs for Jubail’s male only student population. But, as Inside Higher Ed notes, moving forward on this initiative might rub against (in a dejure or defacto way) core elements of Cal Poly’s internal code of conduct, and the national legal system it is embedded within (in this case U.S. equal employment laws that bar discrimination). The issue was put this way:

Faculty skeptical of the project — and by some accounts there’s plenty of skepticism on campus — wonder: Will opportunities truly be equally available to all Cal Poly faculty? Would women feel they can apply for an on-site director position in a country where they, unlike their male colleagues, would be barred from driving? What about homosexual faculty? Would they see good professional options in a country where sodomy is punishable by death? What about Jewish faculty in an Islamic country without religious freedoms?

The administration says that the bulk of the work to develop the programs would likely happen on the California campus. But site visits and long-term director positions abroad would be available. And there aren’t just opportunities, but also money, at stake here: The proposed base annual salary for a senior faculty member working on the project is $180,000.

Transnational complications, indeed.

Entangling institutional infrastructures from different countries cannot help but generate some inter-cultural and institutional conflict: indeed this is sometimes the rationale for supporting the concept of overseas campuses. But the Ross articles, the Cal Poly-Saudi debate, and Amy Newhall’s entry in GlobalHigherEd last autumn (‘Liberal education venturing abroad?: American universities in the Middle East‘), are but a few reminders that much more thinking is required about the underlying forces facilitating the development of such ventures, the nature of the deliberative processes on campuses that are considering such ventures (which has been, to date, driven in a top down fashion, for good and for bad, by what I would deem administrative entrepreneurs), and the nature of the memorandum of understandings (MoUs) and legal agreements that lock in such linkage schemes (usually for a five year period, in the first instance).

The evidence, to date, suggests that there is incredible diversity in drafting overseas campus and linkage arrangements, ranging from the unsophisticated and opaque to the sophisticated and transparent. It is perhaps time for some systematic rules and guidelines to be developed by international organizations like UNESCO and the OECD (extending the UNESCO/OECD guidelines on “Quality provision in cross-border higher education”). It is also worth pondering why publicly supported institutions are not active, and indeed sometimes hostile to, the public release of relevant MoUs and legal agreements. Public release clauses could, after all, even be built into the MoUs and agreements in the first place; a “non-negotiable” item in the terms of participants at a recent American Council of Education Leadership Network on International Education meeting. One of many unfinished debates about this emerging global higher ed phenomenon…

Kris Olds

Engaging globally through joint and double degree programmes: a view from Singapore

Editor’s note: further to Kavita Pandit’s entry yesterday (‘Engaging globally through dual degree programs: SUNY in Turkey‘), Lily Kong‘s entry here also focuses on joint and double degree programmes, at the undergraduate level, though from the perspective of a senior administrator and scholar of cultural change who is based in Singapore. Lily Kong is Vice-President (University and Global Relations) for the National University of Singapore (NUS), and also Director of the Asia Research Institute. One of her previous entries in GlobalHigherEd focused on international consortia of universities. Both entries reflect NUS’ role as a relatively global university, partly spurred on by the nature of higher education policy in this Southeast Asian city-state, and partly by the forces underlying Singapore’s development process.

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International agendas for many universities today almost invariably include a student exchange/study abroad component. In fact, for some, setting and reaching a self-imposed target to send a certain proportion of each cohort on such programmes can become a consuming affair, never mind the quality of the actual experience.

Another common expression of the international ambitions of many universities is the facilitation of education tourism (perhaps described in more exalted ways). In many cases, students travel together under the care of a lecturer, learn about another country, but stay in their “environmental bubble”, remaining part of the large group from their home university and within a safe comfort zone.

There are other expressions yet of global ambitions among universities and while they are fraught with a range of difficulties, there are of course also many positive ways in which such programmes have been implemented, and from which students learn much.

In Singapore, not only do universities roll out programmes such as these, so too are secondary schools and junior colleges actively involved in promoting and facilitating such overseas experiences. In a country where overseas private travel for leisure is common and has been on the rise (any flight is a flight out of the country), the question that needs to be asked is how local HEIs can provide for stimulating and meaningful international experiences when many young people have literally been there and done that.

nuscampus.jpgIn the last three to four years, the National University of Singapore has negotiated joint and double degrees with overseas partners for undergraduate courses of study (preceding these by quite some years were graduate level joint/double degrees). They offer that qualitatively (and quantitatively) different experience for students, so they present a value proposition to many who had in their earlier years of education already gone on a short exchange to Australia or visited Shakespeare-land in a school group.

What a joint degree means and how it is different from a double/dual degree is not as common knowledge as I had previously assumed. When approaching other universities with the concept and proposal to explore possibilities, I have been surprised by how some with very explicit global/international rhetoric have never thought about these options.

The versions I am familiar with are as follows. A joint degree student spends the same amount of time obtaining the degree as a single degree student, and about half the period of candidature is spent in a partner institution. He/she obtains a single degree with two university imprimaturs upon graduation. A double/dual degree student usually spends more time than required for a single degree but less time required for two separate degrees and obtains two degrees upon graduation. The time saved comes from “double-counting” some courses. Again, about half the total period of candidature is spent in the partner institution.

These joint and double degree programmes have been attractive for a variety of reasons for students at NUS. For those desirous of an overseas education/degree but for whom that is not possible (e.g. financial constraints, familial conditions), the shortened period overseas becomes a nice middle-ground. For those tentative but curious about a full overseas education, this too provides a comfortable combination. Others have recognized the advantages of two sets of educational, social and cultural experiences, and developing two sets of friendships and networks. And of course, the value of two degrees in less time or one degree from two prestigious institutions is a draw in itself. Indeed, this has become a significant part of NUS’ strategy to attract some of the brightest students in Singapore to study at NUS, and early indications are that it is working.

NUS now has joint undergraduate degrees with Australia National University (in physics, chemistry, mathematics, economics/actuarial studies, history, philosophy, English literature), the University of Melbourne (civil engineering), and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (in geography, political science, history, English literature, and economics).

The challenges of setting up these arrangements are not trivial. Often, the transaction costs are very high. Setting up the joint undergraduate degrees named above, for example, entailed many rounds of careful discussions and many levels of approvals at both institutions. The discussions and agreements have to penetrate to individual faculty in departments, whose curriculum and perhaps even pedagogies have to be modified. This is one of the first challenges, when university or college administrators wish for a variety of reasons to embark on these arrangements but need to have colleagues at the coalface who will be persuaded by their merits enough to work on them.

Setting up the structures and programmes is one thing. Encouraging and identifying appropriate students to sign up for these programmes is another. For Singapore, this has not been a problem. Students have for the most part been enthusiastic about the experience and opportunities that this affords, as mentioned above. But students in Australia and in the U.S. have seemed to need much more encouragement. The pastoral care dimension of students who move across state, social and cultural boundaries also needs careful attention.

Overall, the opportunities have been welcome by students at NUS, and this has been cited by a small, growing number to be the reason for coming to NUS.

Lily Kong