Translate into a different language

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The flaw in the world-class university paradigm

Photo: Bekir S. Gür
Bekir S Gür, PhD,  currently assistant professor at Yildirim Beyazit University in Ankara, Turkey reports, "Could the 'New Flagship University' outlined in a recently published book provide an alternative model to the current obsession with 'World-Class Universities'? This is the first in a series from around the world looking at a possible response to one of the side effects of the global rankings."

Many have criticised the pernicious effects of global university rankings. Nonetheless, the same rankings are perhaps the most powerful tool influencing national higher education policies around the world.

Without any sound alternative vision for higher education, many governments pour huge resources into elite national universities so that they can have one 'World-Class University' or more. In other words, accepting the 'World-Class University' as a paradigm, they realise that it is no longer sufficient to have prestigious national universities – that is, flagship universities – and accordingly race to have one or more top places in global league tables.
The New Flagship University
The New Flagship University, edited by John Douglass of the University of California, Berkeley, provides a more balanced vision for leading national universities by examining the historical and emerging roles played by national elite universities as well as higher education policies and best practices.

Douglass argues that global rankings distort the prime mission of universities which is to focus on regional and national needs and service to society.
As a respected historian of higher education and scholar of contemporary global higher education policy, Douglass reminds us of the true mission of leading universities and discusses four realms of policy and practice: “a Flagship University’s place in national systems of higher education; the expanse of programmes and activities related to their ‘core’ mission of teaching and learning and research; old and new notions of public service and approaches to regional and national economic development; and governance, management, and internally derived accountability practices that form a foundation for the New Flagship model”.


Accordingly, Douglass suggests a more holistic approach to shaping the mission, academic culture and practices of a university instead of focusing on research productivity as a means to improve a university’s ranking in the league tables.

Douglass’ book also includes four chapters on Asian, Russian, Latin American and Scandinavian higher education systems by experts.

Douglass and his colleagues differentiate between leading or national elite universities (that is, traditional Flagship Universities) and the New Flagship Universities. While every country may have one national elite university or more, the New Flagship University is, according to Douglass, a more comprehensive institution in the range of its activities and it has a high level of autonomy and academic culture which values internally derived accountability.

Individual chapters focus on flagship universities in their regions, review policy changes in response to the global race of university league tables and speculate on the emerging qualities of New Flagship Universities.

Source: University Worlds News

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my Email Updates!