Article of Inside Highered Education, April 5th, 2010
American academic leaders are casting a wary eye on developments in higher education in the rest of the world. Will the Bologna Process give Europe an edge? Will the development of research universities in countries outside the West stop the best talent from coming to the United States? What does it mean when American colleges and universities open up campuses thousands of miles away from their home base?
Ben Wildavsky argues that these and many other changes are indeed significant and are bringing about a "globalization" of higher education. But while some observers fear these developments could hurt American higher education, Wildavsky argues that the changes have the potential to be a win-win for all involved (and that these and other forms of globalization are now inevitable). He makes his case in a new book, The Great Brain Race: How Global Universities Are Reshaping the World (Princeton University Press). Wildavsky, a senior fellow at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, answered questions about the themes of the book.
Q: For many years, great students from much of the world have traveled to other countries for a higher education, whether to the great European universities or to universities in the United States. Beyond the fact that other nations are investing in building great universities, how is the global market for higher education changing? Is it just about more players, or is it more than that?
A: What’s happening is that a number of different factors have come together to create a truly global academic marketplace on a scale that’s never been seen before. Yes, there have been mobile students at least since the first Western universities emerged in the 12th century. But mobility today is unprecedented: There are about three million students studying outside their home countries...