Friday, March 9, 2007
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Exporting university education?
America's great universities are in fact becoming global. They are the brand names for excellence -- drawing in the brightest students and faculty and giving them unparalleled opportunities. This is where the openness and freewheeling diversity of American life provide us a huge advantage over tighter, more homogeneous cultures. We give people the freedom to think and create -- and prosper from those activities -- in ways that no other country can match.I hope Ignatius is correct -- but as a useful corrective, one should check out William Brody's "College Goes Global" in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs. Brody, the president of Johns Hopkins, has some experience in exporting American education, and offers some sobering advice:
Since the end of World War II, the United States has been recognized as the world leader in higher education. It has more colleges and universities, enrolls and graduates more students, and spends more on advanced education and research than any other nation. Each year, more than half a million foreigners come to the United States to study. A widely cited article written by researchers at Shanghai Jiao Tong University that looked at the academic ranking of universities worldwide based on faculty quality and research output found that more than half of the top 100 universities in the world -- and 17 of the top 20 -- were in the United States.posted by Dan on 03.09.07 at 03:30 PM
What is globalization supposed to mean in the context of higher education, anyway?
An American college (say, William and Mary or Oberlin, to pick two names entirely at random) is not an especially portable brand name. Everything that matters to a consumer about a Toyota or a Ford can be brought to the consumer; where the product is made makes no difference other than for sentimental reasons. For an American university education, especially one from the elite schools, the overseas consumer pretty much has to go to the United States.
This doesn't preclude cooperative arrangements or other means by which the influence of American academic practice may be felt in other countries. However, Brody sounds as if he is trying to knock down an idea that hasn't occurred to anyone else, and for very good reasons.posted by: Zathras on 03.09.07 at 03:30 PM [permalink]
"However, Brody sounds as if he is trying to knock down an idea that hasn't occurred to anyone else, and for very good reasons."
Branch campuses, offering, in their words, 'the same degree as the US version,' may be the wave of the future. I suspect that Brody has in mind some older version of this, such as http://www.jhubc.it/ and http://sais-jhu.edu/Nanjing/index.html
I'm not sure what the argument about tenure has to do with anything. For all its faults, it seems to work pretty well compared to, say, what's going on in Britain.
Scholars have said America has a culture of private contributions to worthy causes, like colleges. I wonder whether there are differences between the foreign and native alumni of Johns Hopkins that bear this out? But even if Mr. Brody's foreign alumni don't kick in, you'd have to assume they also don't care about how the football team does and they do offer the opportunity for prestige when they rise to high places in their home country.posted by: Bill Harshaw on 03.09.07 at 03:30 PM [permalink]
Actually, I currently feeling the effects the American visa regime for students. I am, if things go as I hope, on my way to an ivy league university. The student visa application does, however, seem daunting.
One other thing that I find rather awkward is the "two-year rule", where I cannot get work visa in the US after I finish my exchange program. I would think that the USA would want to get people with high education to work in the country, but apparently not? Not that I would have tried to get a work visa - I need to finish business school before and that will take more than the two years.
Well, maybe this ranting of mine was a bit off-topic.
- Mark.posted by: Mark Gray on 03.09.07 at 03:30 PM [permalink]
Cool. Maybe someday we can discover a way to export higher education to America's own citizens?
I won't argue the soft power benefits of exporting education, but this feels like another case of chasing markets overseas at the expense of solving problems at home. It may be money-smart, but it ignores the history and social conditions that allowed you to develope that product in the first place.posted by: Babar on 03.09.07 at 03:30 PM [permalink]
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