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Mauritius 3 September 2012. 2 Universities’ contribution to the economy is so effective precisely because it is not our primary objective. -- Leszek Borysiewicz.

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Presentation on theme: "Mauritius 3 September 2012. 2 Universities’ contribution to the economy is so effective precisely because it is not our primary objective. -- Leszek Borysiewicz."— Presentation transcript:

1 Mauritius 3 September 2012

2 2 Universities’ contribution to the economy is so effective precisely because it is not our primary objective. -- Leszek Borysiewicz

3 Van Schalkwyk (2011): Study of dominant types of engagement at three HE system levels in Mauritius (super, middle, under structures– Burton Clark) to establish whether there is alignment and the extent to which the engagement activities (projects) at UoM were weakening or strengthening the university’s academic core (i.e. core functions of teaching and research) (Cloete et al.) Engagement:function matrix X-axis: Engagement types adapted from Muller (2010) Y-axis: 3 claimed functions of the university: teaching, research, service 3

4 4 1.Near-perfect alignment: dominant type at all 3 levels = development engagement. 2.BUT activities (projects) are NOT strengthening the core functions; bearing is erratic. (Source: Van Schalkwyk 2011: 111)

5 Alignment between three system-levels around a particular type of engagement which seeks to link the university to economic development is observable BUT academic activity is not strengthening the academic core. Therefore alignment is at most an enabling, and not a determinative, condition for ensuring a type of engagement which seeks to contribute to development. Current academic activity at UoM, despite being in alignment with institutional and national policy, creates a very mild dosage effect so that the kind of research that drives economic development is not substantively internalised, and therefore does not leave permanent institutional traces because it fails to penetrate the academic core to any significant degree. 5

6 6 Comparative figures for UoM and the University of Ghana (cf. HERANA research findings) Premise: If policy in Mauritius/UoM is supportive of the university making a contribution to development, and Ghana/University of Ghana’s policies are not, then UoM should be increasing its knowledge output (publications and doctoral graduates) and see an increase in activities that support/promote such output (e.g. collaboration/networking) relative to the University of Ghana. Indicators: Research output: publications over time Research output: doctoral graduates Research collaboration for the possible disjuncture between knowledge policies and knowledge activities: UoM vs University of Ghana

7 7 ANCILLARYSELF-GOVERNINGINSTRUMENTENGINE COUNTRY GovUniGovUniGovUniGovUni Ghana  ●●  ● Mauritius ●●   = Strong  = Present ● = Absent University not part of development strategy Central role for new knowledge in development strategy No/marginal role for new knowledge in development strategy University part of development strategy (Source: Cloete et al 2011: 22)

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10 10 Source: Olivier Beauchesne, 2011

11 11 Source: Bunting/HERANA II

12 What is needed is a development/engagement model that allows for combining the traditional functions and strengths of the included domains/institutions (higher education, private/public sectors and state agencies) with problem-orientated, integrated networks that are rooted in but at the same time separated from these domains/institutions. From the perspective of this new model, it is not the university that needs to change but it is the nature of the bridge or connection between higher education and society that needs to be re-interpreted. Non-disruptive, co-ordinated linkages. 12

13 Possible arrangements for engagement between the university and external stakeholders that are non-disruptive: 1.Structural at macro/system level e.g. the knowledge system is differentiated by function (create/transfer/interpret/exchange/apply) and the university contributes according to its institutionalised comparative advantage in the knowledge system – knowledge creation (research) and knowledge transfer (teaching). 2.Super co-ordination of higher education stakeholders that is problem- focused and in which the university contributes according to its institutionalised comparative advantage in the knowledge system e.g. “big projects”. Conversely, arrangements that won’t work: 1.Structural at micro/organisational level e.g. intra-university differentiation. Because this seeks to disrupt the institutional nature of the university. 13

14 14 US$3.8 billion investment, US$796 billion return jobs ( ) (Battelle Memorial Institute 2011) = ROI: 141:1 US$67 billion [per annum] in annual economic activity (Wall Street Journal) Creation of a new industry / scientific discipline While slow to deliver medical breakthroughs, there have been some breakthroughs including new forms of personalised medicine and genetics therapy, greater productivity in agriculture, and potential sources of renewable energy.

15 Co-ordination at unprecedented levels in the South African context… particularly between government agencies and departments. Co-ordination and co-ordinated action ito managing crime: “In the end things turned out not quite as expected. The country was not plunged in darkness … Crime dropped during the event. The hooligans stayed home en masse thanks to the efforts of international authorities. No terrorist threat materialised and strikers – in the spirit of national unity – waited until well after the last game of the tournament before they took to the streets. … The only labour threat that really constituted a challenge – briefly – emerged from a private security company assigned to guard the peace inside the stadiums… The state moved in swiftly. It…replaced them with hundreds of South African Police recruits. In doing so, the state re-asserted its political authority and organisational capacity to take charge of security … The symbolic importance of this bold assertion of the role of the state in the fractured world of modern security was not lost on observers.” (Van der Spuy 2010) 15

16 13 countries and close to 100 organisations involved in the project SKA telescope to be hosted in 9 African countries Global collaborations around the scientific aspects. South African and other African universities are participating in these collaborations. There are exchanges of faculty and students between South African and international institutions. Collaboration with global research institutes for training of engineers. The SKA will drive technology development particularly in ICT and energy generation, distribution, storage and demand reduction. The SKA will provide longstanding human capital development and employment benefits. The design, construction and operation of the SKA will impact skills development in science, engineering and in associated industries not only in the host countries but in all countries involved. SKA offers comprehensive bursaries to students in engineering, mathematics, physics and astronomy at undergraduate and postgraduate level. 411 (2012) students have benefited from SKA South Africa bursaries and scholarships, including many students from other African countries. 16

17 Established in 1999 with the intention to develop and market reactors both locally and internationally. PBMR is a public-private partnership comprising the South African government, nuclear industry players and utilities. A total US$1.2bn was invested in PBMR, SA government having contributed 80.3% of that amount. Grew into one of the largest nuclear reactor design and engineering companies in the world. Core team of some 800 people at the PBMR head office in Pretoria, more than a 1000 people at universities, private companies and research institutes. Government pulled support for the PBMR in 2010 after the company failed to secure an investor or partner. Some of the universities benefitted from PBMR and were able to offer courses related to nuclear research and training. Closing of the project resulted in a leakage of local skills developed. 17

18 Who funds? And how many projects of the “big project” magnitude can be sustained? Who sets the agenda and how is it set? Academic, economic or political imperatives? Are the problems “self-presenting”? Or only “big projects” for current “big problems”? At what point does a project become “too big to fail”? Is it only about funding or is reputational risk also a factor? Is this really something new? The “Cambridge Phenomenon” of the 1960s: 1400 tech companies are now located around the university, 11 valued at over US$1.3bn (one ironically called “Autonomy”). 18

19 Higher education policy-makers and university management need to be weary of promoting research activities which weaken the core functions of teaching and research. They should seek to combine the strengthening of the core functions of the university with strategies for engaging with external constituencies in ways that do justice to the institutional nature of the university (i.e. are not disruptive of the academic core). One possible way of doing this, it is suggested, is to focus on ‘big problems’ with the acknowledgement that to initiate momentum around solving big problems requires co-ordination between all levels of the higher education system, including the academics who will be applying themselves to the problem identified. 19

20 FIN Thank you 20


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