Leading Voices in Higher Education — Ben Wildavsky lecture at Dartmouth, Feb 29, 2012

Leading Voices in Higher Education — Ben Wildavsky lecture at Dartmouth, Feb 29, 2012

October 4, 2019 1 By Stanley Isaacs


[ Music ]>>I asked Antonio before
coming here what I could do to attract the attention of sophisticated
Ivy League audience? And he said, “You
really can’t miss with pictures of cute animals.” So this is a picture of
some monkeys that I saw when I was visiting Southeast
India a couple of years ago. I was staying at a guest house. I took the photo
from the balcony. As you can see they look
pretty adorable but it turns out these monkeys
have a dark side, because if you leave your room,
I discovered after a day or so and you leave your windows
open, they’ll come inside and they’ll trash the place. And things aren’t always what
they seem in other ways as well. Even though this setting
looks pretty sleepy and pretty out of the way, at least
to my Western eyes, there are not only monkeys but
there are deer running around. There are these magnificent
banyan trees. It’s on the edge of a
national forest, this location. It turns out that these monkeys
are in the middle of the campus of The Indian Institute
of Technology at Madras, which is part of the network of elite engineering
schools all over India. It’s often called
the MIT of India. And despite appearances, this out of the way campus
is very much connected with the global network of
knowledge and talent mobility that makes up the new global
higher education marketplace. It’s a college where you
go to visit the director and he’s just back from
Dabos, where he’s taking place in a Higher Education Working
Group headed by Rick Levin, the president of Yale. It’s a university where you
sign up for job interviews with Google and McKinsey,
the same kind of places that come here and
recruit at Dartmouth. It’s a university where you see
posters advertising graduate fellowships at KAUST, the King
Abdulla University of Science and Technology, a
brand new university in Saudi Arabia that’s seeking
the best and brightest students from all over the world. So one of their stops
on their recruiting tour of course, is the IITs. And you know, as I was working
on the “Great Brain Race”, I came across unexpected
and I thought, quite fascinating scenes
like this all over the world. Well, you know the truth is
that’s not what I was expecting at all. I had in mind a very
different book. You know, I thought I would
do sort of series of profiles of the great universities
of the world. And that’s what I set out to
do but after a few months, I started wondering, why
was the director of a place like this going to Dabos? Why was Google coming to
recruit these students? And I sort of realized
that with my initial idea, I was missing a much
more important story. And that’s the story
that I eventually tried to piece together
and tell in the book. And it’s about how the old
order of elite universities around the world is very
gradually being shaken up, as a new era of really
intense global competition gets under way. Now this afternoon, I’m going to give you just a taste
of what I discovered. And I’m going to focus on
just three of the hallmarks of this new global marketplace. Now the first is
academic mobility. The second is the rise of university rankings
all over the world. And the third is
the quest everywhere to create world class
institutions. Now for each of these phenomena,
I’m going to spell out each of the fascinating things that
are happening, how they combine to make higher education
globalization reach further and spread more quickly
than ever before in history. I’m also going to discuss in
each of these three cases, how some people are wondering
whether certain aspects of this new university
marketplace might represent a threat, something
to worry about. But for each of these big
three trends I’m going to tell you why we don’t need to
worry, why this transformation of higher education around the
world is a huge opportunity. An opportunity for nurturing
talent, an opportunity for expanding meritocracy,
and an opportunity for fostering innovation,
both for the west and for the rest of the world. So I’m going to start with
academic mobility and just talk about what’s happening. We’re witnessing mobility
of faculty and students around the world to a degree that we’ve never
ever seen before. Now of course, there’s
always the international student mobility. Going back to the first western
universities in the Middle Ages, students would travel
from places like Paris, to Bologna , to Oxford. You know, this was the
time that we had the notion if the wondering of the scholar. But of course, since then
the trend sort of went back and forth over the centuries,
but it really exploded in the second half
of the 20th Century. And if you look at this chart
showing the recent numbers, you will see that there were 3.7
million globally mobile students in the last year for
which we have data. And these are from
the OECD, by the way. That’s an 85 percent increase
from the two thousand students that we had, excuse me, the
two million students we had in the year 2000. Dartmouth is very much a part
of this world of mobility, which I believe you have
7 percent international undergraduates, five
percent faculty members who were foreign born. You have many, many
students going overseas. So there’s a tremendous
amount of mobility, especially in some
fields and at high levels. You have something like half the
world’s top physicists no longer work in their home countries. These are really very
significant numbers. It’s probably not
surprising that recruiting for these students
is very fierce. You know, of course, for top PhD
students, these are the students who are really the backbone of the world’s research
labs, PhDs in post-docs. So the top students
are really fought over. They can write their own ticket. They can go all over the place. With undergraduates, you
know there is a mixture of motivations. Of course, foreign
undergraduates often pay full fees for places that
are not like Dartmouth and don’t have the
same financial aid for foreign students as
for domestic students. You know, places like the UK and
Australia depend very heavily on the revenues they get
from foreign students but I think it’s easy
to be very cynical about that aspect
of foreign students. Yes, students pay fees but also
foreign students I think bring really valuable talent
and resources to the campuses where
they study. And I think countries
and universities that are smart really understand that these students
represent a resource, not just a revenue source. So recruiting is very fierce. You all know that social
media is the big thing now to try to attract students. And this was true
even a few years ago. New Zealand decided
to create a sort of Higher Ed promotion agency, a
viral video to recruit students from the Asian student market. It was extremely successful, although it was withdrawn pretty
quickly after it was put out. And I’ll show you just
a still in the video. If you look carefully, it’s
a hot tub and of course, you see a pair of students kind
of making out in the corner. And then you have to imagine
when you see the whole video, which I won’t impose on you,
but the camera pulls back to show the disapproving
parents over in the other corner and of course, the
caption is get further away from your parents. You know, very innovative, a
bit controversial; it got pulled but you can see it had a lot
of impact because if you look at the recruiting
figures over ten years, New Zealand really
did very well. So if Dartmouth is
looking at strategies, it just tells you being
a little bit edgy, being a little bit creative
sometimes can get results. So I’ve talked about mobility
of students and faculty. There are lots of other
kinds of mobility. We have mobility of research and there are just incredible
international networks of research collaboration. There’s been a doubling of global research
collaborations in the last 20 years. In fact, I think those numbers
are probably higher now. You just find examples
all the time. In Brazil 30 percent, which is
a real rising research power, you know, small but rising, 30 percent of all their articles
have foreign co-authors. You have networks where students
will come study, for example, in the West and then
they may go back home and then they will
collaborate with the professor who they studied with. So then you have these networks
that are constantly expanding. So mobility of research,
and then you have mobility of campuses themselves. And by that I’m talking about the so-called
Branch Campus Phenomenon, where universities, typically
Western universities have set up branches in the Middle East
and often in Asia as well. And these are also
growing quite quickly. There was a report that
came out in January finding that there were over 200 branch
campuses around the world. And a few years earlier, although a different
definition, the count was 162. So they have been
growing pretty quickly. This is a branch
campus that I visited on the edge of Doha, in Cutter. And when most people think of Texas A&M University this
probably isn’t what they think of. But you know Texas A&M
has a branch in Cutter. It is part of a complex outside
Doha called Education City, where you also have
Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Georgetown
School of Foreign Service, and several other
American institutions, I think one British
institution; one French, and it’s a really
lavish complex. There’s marble all
over the place. No expense was spared. It’s all been paid
for by the Qataris through something called
The Qatar Foundation. And it’s really an
interesting place. You know you walk down and
you’ll see a men’s prayer room on one side, woman’s
prayer room on the other with a washing station
in between. You’ll see a lot of women in
abayas, but then you will walk down the hall and
you’ll see the Starbucks. You’ll see the Subway,
and of course, you see men and women studying together
which doesn’t happen across town at Qatar University where
they have separate classes. And you know, what I
was really struck by is that I saw posters all over
the place advertising a debate series with a very
controversial debate resolution about whether gulf
Arabs value profit more than they value people,
just the kind of thing you wouldn’t
expect in that region. I mean Qatar is not Saudi Arabia but neither is it a
Western democracy. So these institutions I
think have been invited in, in part I think to kind of push
the envelope a bit and to try to create some of the conditions
of sort of free public debate that we take for granted. So there are various kinds of
mobility, students, faculty, research campuses themselves. And there’s also quite a bit
of anxiety about this mobility. And there are a number
of examples but I’ll just site a couple. One is Brain Drain. This is this fear that’s been
around for a number of years, particularly in the
developing world, that young people will
leave to study in the West and they won’t come back. And sometimes people have taken
measures to stem Brain Drain that I don’t think
are very wise. The director of one
of the IIT’s actually, they still call it IIT Bombay,
north of Mumbai, a few months after I was in India
he basically said, “Too many students
were going to the West for internships,
to study, to work.” He was worried about
losing all this talent, so he said, “You can’t go. You’re not going to get credit
unless you stay close to home.” So he was trying to keep all
the best minds close to home. There’s a converse concern,
especially in the West that talented foreigners will
somehow come in and crowd out domestic student or when
they graduate and work here, they’ll crowd out
domestic workers. And we have what I call in the
book, academic protectionism. It’s really about
immigration policy. And you’ve seen this in
Australia for example, where there were concerns that
foreign students were coming, many from India and Asia to
study at vocational schools that weren’t really legit. So there was a crackdown
on that, but as a result they
made it much harder for legitimate students
to come in and they eventually
reversed that policy. France similar thing, just
last year they had some big restrictions as part of
the immigration reform. They were going to make it much
harder for foreign students who graduated to
stay on and work. They also ended up
reversing that. Here in the United
States, we have of course, many foreign students
at our institutions but we have a very
limited number of visas, so-called H1B visas, for
talented foreign workers, meaning that it’s hard for many
students with advanced degrees to stay on after they graduate. And, in fact President Obama
talked about this in his speech in El Paso last year
on immigration. He said, “Today we
provide students from around the world
visas to get Engineering and Computer Science Degrees
at our top universities, but then our laws discourage
them from using those skills to start a business
or a new industry here in the United States. This makes no sense.” So there are a lot of
anxieties around the kind of mobility I am
describing, but I really think that it is very important
that we embrace these kinds of developments, that
we not worry about them. We’re now in a dynamic
higher education world. It’s not a static world, the old
patterns that we kind of think of still, are really changing. Yeah. There is no question that
brain drain remains a concern in a number of places. But at the same time we
are seeing new patterns. Now you hear much more
about brain circulation. Sometimes people talk
about brain exchange to capture how different
the patterns are. You know, if you look at
patterns of study and work for example, Indians and
Chinese may study in the U.S., may take another degree
in a different country, and then go home to work
for a multi-national. A great example of
brain circulation at the faculty level is this
guy, well you don’t see him but you see his journeys. Choon Fung Shih, who is
originally from Singapore, came to the United States
for graduate school, got a PhD in Mechanical
Engineering at Harvard, worked in industry;
became a tenured professor at Brown, extremely successful. So far that is a classic
sort of post-war trajectory, from a developing
world to the West and a very successful career. But the National University of
Singapore is trying very hard to really become a great
world class university and they recruited him back
to NUS where he returned. He headed up an important
research institute and then he got promoted
and he became the president. So that’s a complete reversal
of the patterns we think of. And then to add a new twist,
when KAUST was started, a few years ago, KAUST recruited
him, that’s number three. KAUST recruited him to become
their founding President. So he moved again, and you
know, I would not suggest that an example like
Choon Fong Shih is typical of the mobility we’re
seeing but I do think that he’s especially emblematic
of the kind of possibilities that exist in today’s world. And you know, just briefly, this
notion of crowding out students, I think there just isn’t
much evidence of that. There was an interesting
study showing that in certain key
periods when PhDs, foreign students were flooding
into certain PhD programs in this country, many of
the programs just expanded. It wasn’t as if there have to
be a finite number of slots. So I don’t think there should
be much worry about that and of course, we have
to remember that so many of the talented students
who come to the United States become
a huge asset to our economy, particularly, to places
like Silicon Valley. My employer, the Kauffman
Foundation has done studies about the very high percentage
of firm founders or co-founders in Silicon Valley, these high
growth firms, who are immigrants and many who have come
to the United States through our universities. Well, the bottom
line here I think, is that mobility is empowering. As we bring down
protectionist barriers and immigration policies, a world of academic mobility
let’s people get ahead based on what they know, not
based on who they are, where they come from, or what
their family background is. This is what I call in the
book, “free trade in minds.” It’s really the principle
of meritocracy and it’s hugely important. So, I’ve talked about the
ways in which a highly mobile, worldwide, education
marketplace is developed. And you know, I think
that education markets, like financial markets, other kinds of markets
really need information in order to function. So perhaps inevitably,
the mobility of students, of faculty, of research, of
campuses has been accompanied by a proliferation
of college rankings, not just nationally,
but globally. So let me just talk a little bit about how this growth
really began. I’m going to go back more than
a hundred years to my hometown of Berkley, California where
the very young University of California had started
oh, 10 or 20 years ago. This is 1895. This is probably my favorite
ranking slide of all time. And it’s a little hard to read
but what this is a ranking of physical fitness
and what you’ll see is that it shows the young men of
the University of California. And they measured their necks
and their chests and they looked at their strength
and their thighs and everything they could do and
they compared them to actually, for the social scientist
here, a very impressive sample of 15 thousand East Coast
Bluebloods, you know at Amherst, at Cornell, at Yale
and you know, the California guys were behind
at first but after a couple of years of calisthenics
and the brisk Bay Area air, you can see their wonderful
calisthenics outfits, they surpassed at least
the initial figures for the guys from
the East Coast. I love this for a couple
of reasons, I mean, well, it’s just funny. But one of the things of
course, is it does tell you that our impulse to
rank and to sort, I think is not something new. It’s not something that
was created by U.S. News. And I have, Jay Matthews, who
writes for the Washington Post and who created the Newsweek
rankings of high schools says, human beings are tribal
primates which means that we are by nature, you know, designed to
sort and to rank and to figure out who’s the Alpha, you
know, where people are. But the second reason I like
this is because it actually, is sort of the precursor of the
value added movement which is so important to today’s
education debate in K through 12, but also
increasingly in higher education. It’s not just how good were they but how much better did they
become after they were enrolled for a couple of years? So there were a number of rankings throughout
the 20th century, nothing really big
and significant. So fast forward to 1983, that’s when U.S. News
created its college rankings. First, a simple survey of college presidents eventually
became more sophisticated, obviously, very controversial. What I didn’t know when
I was at U.S. News is that since U.S. News
created the rankings, more than 40 other countries
have created their own national level rankings. And these aren’t just in places
you might expect, you know, Canada, Italy, the
United Kingdom, although they all do have
their national rankings, but places like Nigeria,
Peru, Kazakhstan, they all have their
own rankings. There’s been a real interest
in this kind of thing and there’s been
so much interest that global rankings
were created. The first big one was by
Shanghai Jioa Tong University in 2003, very heavily focused
on science and research, the next one by British
publication Times Higher Education. The following year a more
survey-based ranking covering more fields and these
quickly became very popular, not only with students,
I shouldn’t say popular. They became closely watched and
controversial with students, with universities, and
with policy makers. I’ll show you just
the most recent ones if I can get this up again. These are the top ten both
from Shanghai and Times Higher. I’m sorry there is
no real ranking for excellent liberal
arts colleges that also have excellent
graduate divisions in a few areas, or maybe I
should say in many areas. But you know, what
I’m also struck by is how there’s always a
few more British institution in the Time’s Higher top ten. But you know what the real
interesting question is not the top ten, it’s what
happens in 40 or 50 years. And given the sorts of changes
that I’m going to be talking about I think that once you
get maybe not the top ten but in the top 30 or 40 or
50, I think you’re going to start seeing some more
new names, new places, as institution that have not
been on top, start improving and start becoming
much more competitive. So rankings are this
huge phenomenon but they also worry
a lot of people. And I can talk for a long time
about why people don’t like them but I think one of
the big criticisms is that they’re arbitrary. They focus on the wrong factors. They create perverse incentives, and they just don’t tell you
how effective universities are, especially when it
comes to core activities like teaching and learning. And of course, if you really
hate global rankings you can just create your own. This is what happened a
few years ago when one of the French engineering
schools decided it wasn’t happy with the global rankings
and they came up with a different methodology. And that’s my second
favorite ranking slide. So there’s a lot of concern
about rankings, but once again, I think rankings are
ultimately very useful. And yes, it’s absolutely true
that rankings have many flaws. And you know it would
be hard to deny that. But I really do think that
rankings have the potential to be helpful, to
students, to universities, and to government policy
makers really, fundamentally, because they provide an external
yardstick that allows us to compare universities,
and to spur competition and ultimately to
help us improve. You know rankings provide sort
of a common academic currency. I was visiting England when
I was working on the book and I met a chemistry
graduate student at the University of Warwick. She’s from South Africa. She had done her undergraduate
in South Africa, and she wanted to get her PhD in
a different country in a really good program. She had no idea what a
good program would be, so the rankings were
part of her process. They weren’t the be all and end
all, but they helped her figure out some of the top places and where she should
start doing more research and making contacts and
making an application. That’s just a very
practical example. You know I think we
have to, we have to sort of sometimes step back I
think, from some of the, there are issues
about well, is No. 16 that much different from No. 17? And you know those draw
very legitimate criticisms. But there’s a researcher in
Germany that has another kind of ranking, different from
the U.S. News but he says that rankings are a democratic
instrument and the reason is because rankings provide
transparent information to consumers. And I think this is something
that we should really welcome. You know, the other
thing to understand is that rankings are
not going away. We’re in the age
of accountability. So rankings will be done. The question seems to me
is will they be done well? Can they be done better? And I think I’m optimistic
on both fronts but there’s more
work to be done. I think there are some
encouraging developments. The OECD based in Paris has
an initiative called AHELO, which is the Assessment of Higher Education
Learning Outcomes. And it’s really an effort; it’s
really in the very early stages, sort of almost pre-pilot. But they’re trying to make
cross national comparisons of something that we don’t
really hear enough about, which is how much are
students learning? And so they are actually,
borrowing an American test, the Collegiate Learning
Assessment and giving that to students in
different countries and seeing how much better does
your writing get during college? How much better do your
analytical skills get during college? And they have chosen
some subjects, economics and engineering, which they
think will perhaps transfer reasonably well across
national boundaries. And they’re doing some work
on those as well to try and create testing
instruments that can be used in different countries. That’s just one example. There are many other
initiatives. The European Union has a new
ranking initiative that kind of lets you build your own
ranking based on the criteria that are most important to you. And I don’t think there’s
a single best ranking, but I think it’s great
that we’re seeing this kind of ferment because I think
that as I said, transparency and accountability are just so
important in higher education. They’re important
in this country too and I think that’s
inevitably going to be what happens
around the world. Well, for all the
controversy that we’ve seen over global college rankings, we do know that many countries
are using them to assess where they stand in their quest
to build great institutions. And this brings me to the third and I think most
significant trend that I’m going to
tell you about. And this is the race to create
world class universities. Many nations are I think
correctly understanding that a thriving university
system is the pathway to innovation and the
pathway to economic growth. And I’ve always liked this quote
from a wonderful book that came out a few years ago from a
couple of Harvard economists, a husband and wife actually. Claudia Golden and Larry
Katz and it says that, “Human capital embodied in one’s
people is the most fundamental part of the wealth of nations.” I think that’s what everybody is
realizing all around the world. And you know, I think
countries understand that their competition is
not just regional or national that it’s global and
they’re not content to just send students overseas. They don’t want to just
bring branch campuses to their own soil. They want to build their own. They want to create their
own great institutions. And they’re doing that in
several different ways. They’re spending a lot of money
to become more competitive. China hasn’t only
quintupled the number of students entering
its universities over the last decade. It’s also spent billions to
improve its universities. It’s focused a lot of the
attention on a select number of universities that are
sometimes called the Chinese Ivy League because they want them
to be globally competitive. In Saudi Arabia,
I’ve mentioned KAUST. King Abdullah spent 10
billion dollars on KAUST just to get it started, which meant that instantly had the sixth
largest university endowment in the world. You know, countries are also
changing the way they spent, how they spent. Places like France and Germany that had a very egalitarian
ethos in their funding of universities have now
created various initiatives, Operation Excellence. France has something
called Operation Excellence, The Big Loan. They’ve created various
mechanisms to try to funnel more money
to institutions that can show their
research is competitive. A lot of this is focused
on research universities. So spending is a big tactic. Recruiting is a big tactic, the
same way it is in the States. You want to build
your institution? You need the best talent. So China has done a lot to recruit overseas
Chinese professors to come back to China. You know it’s more appealing
to live there than it once was. Certainly, the economic
conditions are much better. They are offering
quite generous packages and they call these
people sea turtles. I don’t speak Chinese but apparently sea turtle
is a homonym in Chinese for a returnee, somebody
who goes back home. So the images of sea
turtles swimming back across the ocean back to China. So recruiting is a big tactic and the third thing
universities are doing is trying to create partnerships. Singapore is a great example of a country that’s been
very eager to do this. They really want to become
a global academic hub. So the government has brought
in lots of foreign universities, including places like MIT,
Carnegie Mellon, the University of Chicago Business School,
Duke has a medical school in Singapore, and there
was not along ago, I think it was the
year before last, Yale and the National University of Singapore announced
a partnership to have an undergraduate
liberal arts institution within the National University
of Singapore run by Yale in partnership with NUS. And I think this is significant
to this audience, in particular, because it reflects
the huge interest in liberal arts education that
now exists in Asia and in China and in Hong Kong and in South
Korea, obviously in Singapore. You know, the liberal
arts tradition has been such an important part of
this country’s institutions, particularly at the elite
institutions is seen in places like China as a key
to our success in creativity and innovation. The idea that students
are taught to, I mean forgive the
expression, it’s over used, “to think outside the box,” to question authority,
be analytical. I think there’s a lot of
concern in the Asian countries that students, we may admire
how accomplished they are in the so-called stem fields. We see a lot of their
strengths but they look to us and they see the kinds of
capacities that are going to be more and more necessary. And so, it’s not that this is
spreading everywhere but I think that there’s a lot of interest. And So Yale’s move over there to create this partnership
is certainly a part of that. So world class aspirations,
spending, recruiting, partnerships, all
this is going on, and it’s creating once
more, a lot of anxiety. Well, why are people worried? I think, that in a way,
if you were to sum it up, in the West in general,
and in the United States, in particular, there’s a fear
that we’re losing our edge, that we’re no longer
going to be No. 1. You know, when
it comes to Chinese, and other Asian universities
in particular, it’s become quite common to
fret, or some people even panic, about this sort of alleged
peril, either educational, economics or both that is
posed by the enormous number of science and PhDs that
those nations are producing. President Obama sort of
touched on this in a sort of unfortunate way, in
my view, in his State of the Union Address
last year, when he talked about the idea of
a Sputnik moment. And of course, a Sputnik
moment has a lot of resonance in this country and it sort
of implies to me a sense that we are under threat,
that there are sort of sinister foreign forces that
we should be worried about, that we have to be sure
that we don’t get beaten, and that we don’t
get left behind. And it’s not just
the United States. [foreign name], who
was a British academic. He was the founding
President of the University of the Nottingham’s
campus in Ningbo, China. He was interviewed by a
newspaper and he warned about partnerships with
Chinese universities. And he said, “Those
partnership are one way streets, that they’re intended to
vacuum up Western science and technology strengths that China really is
desperate to gain.” And then he was quoted
as saying, “British institutions must
stop viewing this aggressively ambitious country through
rose-tinted spectacles.” So if others are getting
ahead, this reasoning goes, we must be falling behind. Well, the good news I
think is that this kind of alarmism is really
badly misplaced. You know, we should be
embracing these kinds of changes and we shouldn’t
be in fear of them. And yes, it’s quite true that Western institutions
are beginning to get a run for their money, but
really I believe firmly that we should embrace
this global, higher education marketplace because increasing knowledge
is not a zero sum game. Knowledge is not a finite
resource like gold or diamonds. It’s something that can grow
and something that can expand. And you know, I think this
kind of apprehensive response that we sometimes hear to what’s
happening in other countries and their university systems,
it really amounts to a kind of modern day mercantilism and
that’s the sort of outmoded idea in economics that in order to
prosper, a nation has to grab on to the maximum share of a
finite amount of global capital and really nothing can be
further from the truth. So here’s a great example of how
our store of knowledge can grow. This is from a UNESCO
publication that came out about a year-and-a-half
ago and this is about the sort of geographic distribution
of scientific publications. And basically, you can see
that from 2002 to 2008, in a fairly short period, the
U.S. share of publications fell. It actually fell more than
any of the other countries. So that sounds terrible right. They’re eating our lunch. The sky is falling. But of course, if you look
at the overall increase in publications during
that same period, American scientists published 46
thousand more scientific papers, which is huge. Well, the pie got bigger. Right? It’s not a zero sum game. So yes, we had a smaller slice. We had a smaller
slice of a bigger pie. So increasing knowledge is not
a zero sum game and what’s more, knowledge is a public good. It can’t be contained in
one country and that’s great because it means that
research advances in one nation can
be used by academics and innovators all
around the world. I’ll use an example from
the author Amar Bhide, who wrote in a book called
The Venturesome Economy, a few years ago. A Briton invented the
protocols of the worldwide web in a lab in Switzerland. A Swede and a Dane in
Tallinn, Estonia started Skype. And he concludes, “How
did the foreign origins of these innovations
hurt the U.S. economy?” So when we in the West hear
all about of the smart people in China who are earning all
these PhDs in these key fields, we should understand
this is good for us. It’s not bad for us. We really need more well-trained
minds wherever their origin, working on the big
problems in science and technology and healthcare. It’s not a matter of
vacuuming up knowledge, it’s about spreading knowledge. Well, I’ve talked about several
aspects of The Great Brain Race, mobility, global rankings, this quest to create
world class universities. Well, here’s what I
want to leave you with. As we look to the future
of global higher education, the entire us versus
them paradigm of university competition
is increasingly out of date. We already have research
collaborations as I’ve discussed; all kinds
of partnerships across borders. In 50 years, Nigel Thrift from
the University of Warwick says, in 50 years we might
see outright mergers of universities. We could see the university
equivalent of multinationals. John Sexton, the
president of NYU, which has created a whole
undergraduate campus in Abu Dhabi, headed by
Al Bloom, by the way, former president of Swarthmore. John Sexton talks about the idea
of a global network university where students might start
their studies in Abu Dhabi and they might finish
in Shanghai, where they’re now
building another campus. They might start in New York
City and finish in Abu Dhabi. We just don’t know
what’s around the corner. You know, remember that in the
19th century, Americans flocked to Germany to study at the
first research university, the so-called Humboldt
University with teaching and research combined
under one roof, free from government
interference. Its core principle
is academic freedom. Americans studied that model. They liked it. They came back and they founded
institutions like Johns Hopkins, and the University of Chicago. We took that model. We copied it and
we perfected it. After World War II, we became
by far, the best in the world. And despite all the forces of
competition I’ve talked about, our research universities at
the top level are still head and shoulders above
the rest of the world. So Germany, as I mentioned, their egalitarian
funding system, they have had a pretty rotten
university system for decades, for a number of reasons that
I won’t get into right now. But the Germans, as they try to
create a more competitive system and they’re trying to create
some centers of excellence, they’re looking to the U.S.
model as a model that’s going to get them into a better place. So it’s come full
circle in 150 years. A lot can change pretty quickly. But you know one thing that
won’t change, I believe, is that the key to innovation
and the key to economic growth in the future is going
to continue to lie in the freest possible
movement of people and ideas, in universities, and beyond. And just one final anecdote
that has sort of stuck with me, last year around this time,
I was visiting the University of Wisconsin at Madison. And I picked up a
campus publication that had an interview with a Chinese student
named Mandy Chan. She was a computer
science major. And they asked her
whether she was going to go back home after
graduation. And she was very pragmatic, she
said that that was a possibility but the quote that really
grabbed me is this, she said, “Wherever there is an
opportunity is where I will be.” And that really sums this up. I think this is a very exciting
time and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next. Thank you. [Applause] [ Music ]