Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Sneak Preview: Going Global

Over the coming weeks, we hope to give you a taste of the Symposium activities and provoke some discussions and debates before the event itself.

First up is the issue of internationalisation. Dr Don Olcott is the Chief Executive of The Observatory on Borderless Higher Education in London, and the current Chairman of the Board of Directors of the United States Distance Learning Association. His keynote address is titled 'Rock n' on the International Stage: Global Universities and Cross-Border Higher Education'. In this talk, Dr Olcott will be posing a question to us: how do we define a global university?

I am going to put a question back to him: should universities attempt to fulfill both regional and international agendas (as you sometimes see in mission statements, along the lines of being 'a regional university with an international orientation'), or would they often be better off playing to their strengths regionally? Why the compulsion to 'go global'? Any thoughts?


Iain said...

Interestingly, last year myself and Maria-Alejandra Gonzalez-Peres analysed the mission statements of all HE institutions in the Republic of Ireland (just for fun!) and found some interesting aspects. It was published in the International Journal of Diversity in Organisations, Communities and Regions and the main findings are summarised in the abstract:

The ‘mission’ statements of Higher Education Institutions often include both explicit and implicit commitments to their local, regional and national communities. These may be expected to vary according to particular social, political, environmental, historical, cultural and economic contexts. However, with globalising trends there is pressure for institutions to demonstrate a commitment to economic growth and ‘relevance,’ as well as the adoption of an emerging ‘standard model’ of what constitutes a university.

Based on an analysis of institutional mission statements across the Irish higher education sector, it is clear that, although the ‘economic contribution’ and related aspects feature frequently (and strongly in most cases), there is still considerable emphasis on the wider social, civic and cultural role of institutions. Mission statements vary according to institution type and such separation is very strongly evident, with universities espousing a wider range of activities, a commitment to “excellence,” national and international roles and cultural value. Institutes of Technology emphasise access to courses, local importance and economic relevance and specialist colleges reflect a focus on ethical and professional issues as is relevant to their narrower focus. It almost all cases, the distinctive aspects of each institution are emphasised in accompanying documents rather than the mission statements themselves, which tend to be very ‘general’ in nature, and similar within each institution type.

Anonymous said...

I have tried to find the article that you have published with Maria-Alejandra Gonzalez-Peres and have been unsucessful. Could you advise of the month. I am very interested in reading it.


Iain said...

Hi there. It's :

Gonzalez-Perez, M.-A., I. Mac Labhrainn, and McIlrath, L. (2007). "The Civic Purpose and avowed mission of Higher Education Institutions – diversity or uniformity?" International Journal on Diversity in Organisations, Communities and Nations 7(2): 187-197.