Presentation on theme: "The Changes of Higher Education Towards Globalization President Forum of Southeast Asian Universities Organized by National Cheng Kung University Taiwan."— Presentation transcript:
The Changes of Higher Education Towards Globalization President Forum of Southeast Asian Universities Organized by National Cheng Kung University Taiwan October 17-22, 2003 Bienvenido F. Nebres, S.J. President, Ateneo de Manila University
There are three major changes for universities in developing countries like the Philippines, which I would like to focus on: First, globalization has raised standards of excellence in education and has increased the quality gap between universities in rich countries and those in poor countries. Second, it has also increased the gap between the universities in the poorer countries that are able to mobilize resources to compare with international standards and the poorer universities. Third, globalization has also internationalized professions, communities, stakeholders and universities find that they have to relate to a more international community.
Ê Raising the Bar of Excellence and seeking not just national, but regional and international standards. This is a familiar change and challenge to us with the different international comparisons of universities across regions and across the world. For universities in developing countries like the Philippines, it has sharpened our awareness of the gap that has grown between our universities and universities in our Asian region. The first challenge of change, which I articulated for the Ateneo de Manila in 1994, was how to narrow the gap of excellence between us and universities in our region.The reason is not just for prestige, but for the competitiveness of our graduates in a more demanding world. Unless our graduates can compete effectively with graduates in leading universities in our region, we will not contribute effectively to the leadership needed in a globalizing economy.
This requires major investments in buildings, facilities, IT infrastructure and equipment, laboratories, libraries, above all in faculty with PhD's, in research, in scholarships to attract the best students. For our students we have seen the need for more of them to have an international experience, a junior term or year abroad. We are just beginning in this and it requires substantial investment in personnel, money and time. Since we are a private university and dependent mainly on tuition income, raising the bar of excellence has required larger scale fundraising from alumni, parents and friends. We are learning from U.S. universities how to build effective development offices which attend to alumni and other external publics and to fundraising.
Although it takes up quite a bit of my time, I serve on the Board of Trustees of two American universities, Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and Regis University in Denver, Colorado, partly so we may learn from the American experience.
Ë Globalization has also increased the gap between the better universities in a developing country and the larger number of educational institutions. In a country like the Philippines, globalization has the effect of bringing in global standards in housing, food, vehicles, recreation, education, etc., and a small portion of the population lives in such first-world circumstances. But its other face is that it has widened the gap between rich and poor.
This increasing gap which has its roots in the large economic disparities in a country like the Philippines widens the economic resource and opportunity gaps. It divides the country into winners and losers and is part of the roots of the political, military, social turmoil we are experiencing. It is not possible to build community, where inequality is too great and especially where it is widening rather than closing.
The second clear goal I presented to the Ateneo de Manila in 1994 is that we must work to close the standards gap between our university and other schools in the Philippines, in particular the public elementary and high schools where about 90% of our young people study. We have intensified our focus on this concern in the last couple of years and we are seeking to make a flagship goal of the university to contribute to closing the poverty gap in our country.
I have often quoted the Nobel-Prize winning Economist, Amartya Sen, who says that poverty is not just a poverty of resources, as measured by GDP or foreign direct investments. It is above all a poverty of capability and those countries that have come out of poverty put emphasis on the institutions that undergird capability: basic education, basic health services, reasonable access to credit.
In the university world where all of us live, it is quite natural to give priority to our prestige and standing among our colleagues. Individually, our standing is measured in terms of our research and publications, in the quality and achievement of our students, in the prestige and resources of our department or university. The problem is that while moving up in these standings brings us closer to universities abroad, it widens the gap between us and the rest of the country.
Recent events of social, political, and military turmoil have shown that we ignore this widening gap at our own peril. In a country like the Philippines, I tell my colleagues that if we do not focus as well on the matters that will close the poverty gap (as stated by Amartya Sen), then our achievements will stand on a fragile social community that will eventually sweep the ground from under our feet.
The problem is that focusing on this second goal of closing the gap between us and poorer schools as a central priority for the university is not easy. Given the traditional standards by which we measure university achievement, namely quality of teaching and of research, this focus often runs counter to the desire for faculty and university excellence. For example, our traditional norms for promotion emphasize quality of teaching and quality of research. Our standard university norms do not give priority to rewarding service to close the poverty gap.
Yet if a major goal of our universities is to serve national purpose in a globalizing world and if the processes of globalization are actually creating greater poverty and a major reason for this is the weakness of basic education and basic health services, then we must find a way for our university to focus on these fundamental concerns. Otherwise we find that our pursuit of university excellence may serve the individual university's prestige and the individual graduate's competitiveness, but it does not serve national purpose.
In the last Strategic Planning Workshop with our Board of Trustees, we have started to come to an agreement to focus on these concerns. This agreement is based on the urgency of the poverty problem in our country, on our responsibility as a university from which many national leaders have come, and on our roots in the Christian ideals of a university which should be of service to others. What we need to do on the university level is to find a way to integrate these concerns into the mainstream life of faculty, including integrating them into the world of teaching and research.
Ì Globalization is also demanding from us that we build networks beyond national boundaries. This goes beyond the traditional university exchange agreements and we find that we have to develop: (a)Study opportunities abroad for our junior students. This is quite expensive and we can only do it in a limited way. Perhaps the network of universities attending this conference can consider ways to help make such opportunities more available across our region.
(b)Joint academic research with university departments and laboratories abroad. An example is that our university has developed very good capabilities in Grid computing technologies and a recent grant is allowing us to do real-time analysis of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data for medical research in collaboration with Japan. (c)An international network for research and publications.
Given the second challenge of focusing on the poverty gap, we need to look to international partnerships with universities in developing countries facing the same challenges as we do. We need to find together the way to move towards university excellence according to globalizing standards and at the same time serve the central and critical national purpose of overcoming poverty.