By DAVID MYTON
Accompanying Times Higher’s World Reputation Rankings last year was a thought-provoking comment from Paul Blackmore, professor of Higher Education at King’s College London’s Policy Institute.
Reflecting on the strong performance of Asian universities in their continuing climb up the rankings, Professor Blackmore declared:
“We’ve had a highly Anglo-Saxon view of higher education for many years, and that can’t be sustained for much longer.”
Could he be right? Today the Anglo-Saxon model seems to be doing nicely thank-you-very-much: after all, Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Oxbridge and UCB stand atop the summit of Mount Rankings.
But underlying trends could be heralding a slow and inevitable shift in direction.
Joshua Mok Ka-Ho, vice-president of Hong Kong’s Lingnan University, told THE that Asia’s performance in the rankings reflected heavy investment in higher education from governments across the region. Universities themselves were also strengthening their research capabilities and publishing in international journals:
“Such self-enhancing and advancing trends will continue, particularly when an increasing number of governments in Asia have recognised the importance of research, knowledge transfer, innovation and technology in transforming the economy and society.”
The above came to mind this week as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Education Minister Simon Birmingham headed up a delegation to India of 120 representatives from Australian universities, industry and training institutions who were there to work with their Indian counterparts “to strengthen collaboration and create new opportunities”.
Key objectives included developing opportunities for Australian providers to deliver quality higher education in India, and emphasising Australia as an international education destination.
“Australia is willing and well-placed to help India with its education aspirations, including its goal of upskilling 400 million people by 2022,” Minister Birmingham said.
This is a wise thing to do on many levels.
India is the fastest-growing major economy in the world with a growth rate of more than 7 per cent, and with more than one billion people and a growing middle class.
In an essay in The Conversation Craig Jeffrey notes that by 2060 India will be the world’s most populous country and in all likelihood will have the largest economy.
“We have about 40 years in Australia to become a key partner of this future global centre. And there is no better starting point than higher education.”
The Indian government has predicted to meet its goal by 2022, it will need an extra four million university graduates every year.
If India meets its goals, or even gets close to them, it is likely the economic centre of gravity in the world will reside in an arc from India across to and including China.
What then will become of the Anglo-Saxon view of higher education? It is possible that in years to come the Anglo-Saxon view of higher education will be overshadowed by new modes that emerge in China in India. It may be that blended methods derived from across cultures will emerge.
Working with nations such as India today can only be in the best interests of all parties.