as quoted from (http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=997)
A World-Class University has an International Presence
Universities have long reached beyond their national borders to recruit staff, acquire knowledge and even to enroll students. But now, for universities, the world is shrinking even further through an array of developments increasingly familiar: the globalisation of economies, the revolution in international travel, both real and virtual and, most importantly, the opening of minds to a sense of an international engagement through networks that interlace study, work, consumption and leisure activity.
I am particularly attracted to Martha Nusbaum’s argument that universities must strive to develop world citizens: “We increasingly find that we need comparative knowledge of many cultures to answer the questions we ask”.
It is here that I feel the greatest opportunities for Asian universities exist. ASEAN has shown that there is much strength in regional co-operation. Australia is keen to play its part in these developments. There is a major challenge to be faced in preparing young people to take their place in tomorrow’s world where the progress of information technologies has reduced us to a global village whose leaders need the ability to tap into the world’s knowledge and to communicate across cultural barriers with sensitivity.
I want to see the students of the world-class universities in Asia spending time moving around the region, much as in the Erasmus and Socrates program in Europe. Students should spend a semester at least – ideally a whole year – studying for credit at a sister university overseas. Similarly, staff should co-operate in research projects to the point that authorship involving universities in several countries is standard practice.
World-Class Universities Embrace Many Disciplines
A world-class university will accommodate a large number of disciplines and areas of study, to ensure cross-fertilisation of ideas and that frissance which comes from the gathering together of bright, higher-energy people from a variety of backgrounds and traditions. Some universities with a specific disciplinary focus such as in engineering or pharmacy or accountancy or even technology in a wider sense will draw international acclaim. But to cover a good part of the spectrum of scholarly enquiry in my view adds that extra dimension to the university.
To accommodate multiple disciplines is not, however, to commit to preserving all disciplines once accommodated. As we have found at UNSW, limited budgets mean strategy choices must be made, often painfully.
World-Class Universities will be Technologically Smart
Universities, primarily, are about the discovery and transmission of new knowledge, with students present. The cost of research equipment is now a major budget item – electron microscopes, NMRs, mass spectrometers, nano-structure fabrication facilities and facilities for amino acid and genome analysis – all these require planning and special funding. Similarly, the technology of communications is a budget as much as it is a pedagogic issue, and no university of world class will hold that position simply by treading water.
World-Class Universities will Practice the Art of Good Management
It goes without saying that a truly eminent university will excel in teaching and research. But paralleling and supporting those core activities will be an excellence in management driving first-rate administrative systems.
With continuing pressures on resources, every dollar reasonably saved is a dollar to be strategically spent. Beyond the need for such basic efficiency there is the imperative to invest funds to maximise returns, to manage financial and student data for timely and accurate information to teachers and researchers, to market imaginatively, to build and renovate campus facilities, particularly when pressures are strong for expenditure of a more recurrent kind and to do well all those prosaic things which teachers and researchers could take for granted in simpler, better-funded and less competitive times.
Good management should not be a pejorative term, but it often is when caught up in the tension now quite widespread in universities in a number of countries, over the perceived divide between collegiality and managerialism.
Part of the questioning so important in university life must be embraced by academics themselves about the nature of the modern university and to the effect that if we wish to build and pass on to subsequent generations, universities of world-class stature in the Asian Region, we will need to be quite strategic in how we go about our business.
University leaders around the world have a duty to carry the message of change, and I say this in full awareness that messengers can get shot, figuratively speaking of course.
Let me go on to say a little more about two areas of special importance in my view – the challenge of the virtual university and the nature of the new internationalism.