Friday, July 26, 2013

The Opportunities and Challenges of Establishing an International University: 5 Minute Interview With Dr Jamil Salmi, Global Tertiary Education Expert & Former Tertiary Education Coordinator, World Bank

As the 21st century opens, tertiary education is facing unprecedented challenges, arising from the convergent impacts of globalization. But opportunities are emerging from these challenges.

The role of education in general, and of tertiary education in particular, is now more influential than ever in the construction of knowledge economies and democratic societies.

Governments and Universities in Asia are becoming increasingly aware of the important contribution that high performance, international universities make to global competitiveness and economic growth.

There is growing recognition, in both industrial and developing countries, of the need to establish one or more world-class universities that can compete effectively with the best of the best around the world.

We caught up with Dr. Jamil Salmi, Global Tertiary Education Expert, Former Tertiary Education Coordinator, World Bank and he shared with us his thoughts on ‘The opportunities and challenges of establishing an international University.

Jamil Salmi - Global Tertiary Education Expert; Former Tertiary Education Coordinator, World Bank.
Jamil Salmi a Moroccan education economist, is a global tertiary education expert. Until January 2012, he was the World Bank’s tertiary education coordinator.

He was the principal author of the Bank’s 2002 Tertiary Education Strategy entitled “Constructing Knowledge Societies: New Challenges for Tertiary Education”.

In the past twenty years, Mr. Salmi has provided policy advice on tertiary education reform and strategic planning to governments and university leaders in more than 70 countries all over the world.

Question: Do you think that 'internationalisation' is a priority in the education industry?

Jamil: “Internationalisation has become a necessity for any university interested in competing on the global scene, meaning that it produces graduates who can work effectively as global professionals and it conducts leading edge research. Internationalisation in higher education institutions requires both breadth and scope not just in terms of numbers and global presence, but also in the depth of its strategic partnerships and the opportunities they create for staff, students and alumni.”

Question: In your opinion, what does it mean to be an international University?

Jamil: “To be an international university is not so much about having a high proportion of international students as about transforming the curriculum to make sure that the graduates acquire the competencies needed to work anywhere in the world and the skills to be a global citizen. There are three important ingredients that must be aligned for a university to becoming ‘international’. These ingredients are abundant resources, a favorable governance structure (a strong and supportive leadership team, full management autonomy as well as academic freedom), and a concentration of talent (among both faculty and students).”

Question: What do you think are the biggest challenges facing Universities in Asia?

Jamil: “In several Asian countries, the governance of higher education is still an issue. Public universities often do not have enough autonomy. It is important to allow them to manage their academic activities and administrative operations in an autonomous fashion, while providing regular information on their performance through appropriate accountability mechanisms. A second important challenge is the aging population affecting countries such as Japan, South Korea or Taiwan. This means smaller cohorts of high school graduates available to enter higher education. Universities in these countries will need to increase their continuing education activities to compensate for the decreasing student-age population.”

Question: What are your thoughts on the future opportunities for Asian higher education?

Jamil: “Higher education systems in Asia have proven very dynamic in the past two decades. The fact that most governments in the region consider higher education as an important pillar of the national innovation system is a source of opportunities. Internationalisation requires time, hard work and, importantly, not becoming complacent. It is essential, that the Universities continue to challenge itself to improve and to maintain a sense of urgency even when it experiences successes.”

Jamil Salmi, is one of the key speakers presenting at Building an International University conference, taking place on the 24th & 25th September 2013 at Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, Singapore. He will be conducting a full day interactive workshop on ‘How to build an international reputation for excellence’. Key topics to be discussed include:

- Understanding the main characteristics of world-class universities and the drivers for reputation excellence (research partnerships, student mobility, international rankings etc)
- The tools to design a reputation strategy for your institution
- Utilising benchmarking exercises for reputation building

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