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The Price of Excellence: Comparative Perspectives on Competitive Higher Education Luncheon Address at the Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Shah Allam/Selangor,

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Presentation on theme: "The Price of Excellence: Comparative Perspectives on Competitive Higher Education Luncheon Address at the Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Shah Allam/Selangor,"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Price of Excellence: Comparative Perspectives on Competitive Higher Education Luncheon Address at the Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Shah Allam/Selangor, Malaysia, Shah Allam/Selangor, Malaysia, April 2, 2007 Professor Hans N. Weiler Stanford University

2 UiTM April 2, My points of reference  Stanford University/USA: An established university that has achieved excellence  Viadrina European University (Frankfurt/Oder – Germany): A new university that strives for excellence  Higher education in India: A system of higher education entering the international competition for excellence

3 UiTM April 2, The Quest for Excellence in Higher Education  “Excellence initiatives” (Germany, India, etc.)  International rankings of excellence (“league tables”)  Quest for excellence is not surprising: –Excellence is indispensable –Excellence is socially responsible –Excellence is economical

4 UiTM April 2, Excellence Means Competition  Excellence needs to be established and validated in relation to competitors  Competition in higher education –Competition for good students –Competition for good scholars –Competition for funds –Competition for recognition  Internal and external competition  Competition has become globalized

5 UiTM April 2, The Measurement of Excellence  Reputational measures –Students, alumni, faculty, scientific community  Objective measures –Research output, research funding, completion rates, placement of graduates, no. of PhDs, size of library, faculty honors  Social measures –Representation of different ethnic and social groups and of women among student & staff  The convergence of different measures

6 UiTM April 2, The Competitive University and the Prerequisites of Excellence  Outstanding quality of research and teaching  A clear and unmistakable institutional profile with priorities and posteriorities  Institutional autonomy and independence  (Funding: A relative prerequisite)

7 UiTM April 2, How Prerequisites of Excellence Hang Together  Quality requires a clear institutional profile: One cannot be excellent in everything  Autonomy requires quality: Societies cannot grant autonomy to mediocre institutions  A clear institutional profile requires autonomy: Identity can only flourish in independent institutions

8 UiTM April 2, Quality  Quality requires selectivity –Students –Staff –Leadership  The most critical dimension of university quality: Staff recruitment, retention, and promotion  Quality can be, and needs to be, managed: –Assessment, evaluation, incentives, penalties

9 UiTM April 2, Indicators of Selectivity (Stanford)  Undergraduate Admissions (2004): –Applicants: –Admitted: ( = 13%) –Enrolled: (52% male, 48% female) –Graduated after 5 years: 90.1% (1999)  Graduate Admissions (PhD): 5 – 15% of applicants  Assistant Professors receiving tenure: < 50%  Number of external comparative assessments for professorial recruitment and promotion: 10 to 12

10 UiTM April 2, Levels of Selectivity for US Colleges (Barron) Selectivity Tier SAT (Test) GPA (Grade) % accepted Fresh- men (N) I (n = 146) >1240>B< II (253) >1146>B III (588) >1000>C IV (429) <1000

11 UiTM April 2, Profile  No university can be good at everything  Profile means priorities AND posteriorities: Strengthen strengths and eliminate weaknesses  Too much breadth begets mediocrity  The sharpening of an institutional profile can go too far: The need for lateral connections

12 UiTM April 2, Autonomy  Universities need and deserve autonomy  Threats to autonomy from without and from within –From without: Bureaucratic intervention by the state and agenda-setting intervention by sponsors –From within: The tension between individual autonomy and institutional autonomy  Autonomy and accountability: Two sides of the same coin

13 UiTM April 2, Funding and Excellence  Funding is important, but funding isn‘t everything  If funding is limited (and it always is), it is better to do fewer things well than do everything poorly  The critical importance of research funding –Seed grants, indirect costs (overhead)  The ultimate guarantee of autonomy: Endowment funding of universities

14 UiTM April 2, Research Funding in USA: External Research Grants and Overhead University (Top 5) External Funds FY ‘03 (Mio $) Increase FY ’02>’03 Over- head U Washington %51.6% Johns Hopkins % 8.3%64.0% U Michigan %53.0% Stanford %56.0% UCLA %54.5% Top % 12.5% 51.8% 51.8% All universities % 13.1% n/a n/a

15 UiTM April 2, Selected University Endowments: Market Value, Returns, Growth University Market Value 2004, Mio $ Return 2004 (%) Growth (%) 2003 > 2004 Harvard % 21.1%17.5% Texas % 20.1%18.7% Stanford % 18.0%15.2% Villanova n/a n/a18.6% SF State U n/a n/a 8.5% 8.5%

16 UiTM April 2, University Budget: Revenue (Stanford University, 2005/06) Source Amount (Mio $) % of revenue Student fees (inc. room and board) % Research funds (direct & indirect cost) % Return on investment % Hospital % Other (Donations, Patent, Fees) % Total

17 UiTM April 2, The Hazards of Competition  Aggravating social cleavages  Neglecting the need for a broad-based education (the excellence-expansion quandary)  The danger of commercializing the university in the quest for funding (contracts, patents, fundraising, sports)  Competition for competition’s sake

18 UiTM April 2, Admissions Data for the 146 Most Selective Colleges in the USA Social class (by income) Admissions (N) Admits as % of each population (vs. normal distrib.) Lowest income quartile % (25 %) Highest income quartile % (25 %) Total admissions %

19 UiTM April 2, Partners for Excellence  Cooperation among universities: Competition does not preclude cooperation  Cooperation between universities and business: Proximity and affinity  International cooperation: The role of foreign talent  The ambivalent role of privatization: Flexibility vs. dependence and the erosion of standards

20 UiTM April 2, Concluding Remarks  Competition is both unavoidable and conducive to academic excellence  Excellence needs to be based on both teaching and research, but research remains dominant  The quest for excellence has an international frame of reference  The competition in higher education is not asleep

21 UiTM April 2, For further discussion: For further texts:


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