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April 2011

Going the Distance: Sustaining and Growing a World-Class University

Jamil Salmi's picture

How do countries establish world-class universities while avoiding common pitfalls? In my previous postings about the Top 10 errors that universities most often make, I focused on obstacles usually encountered at the beginning of the enterprise. In today’s blog, I outline three common errors likely to happen at a later stage, once the new flagship institution has already been operating for a few years and has reached a sort of steady pace. Errors at this stage can impede progress not only in sustaining, but in growing an institution that is well-run and impactful.

What are those three common errors? And how can universities ultimately go the distance?

Can Disseminating Information Lead to Better Learning Outcomes?

Deon Filmer's picture

When my wife and I were looking for where to live in Washington DC, an important part of the decision was the quality of the local public school that our children would (eventually) attend.  But how to judge quality?  Talking to lots of people was the first step.  Taking schools tours was another.  But researching test scores was a key factor.  We wanted a school with a good learning environment, a sense that parents had a positive feeling about the place—but also wanted to know that the school had a track record of good learning outcomes.  Thankfully, the performance of public schools in Washington DC is accessible online and can be compared across schools.  This information was an important input into our decision.  And it remains an important way in which we monitor school performance.  We pay close attention to our own children’s academic development, talk to their teachers regularly, and try to be attentive to the many subtle indicators of the quality of education that they are receiving.  But the annually released test scores provide an externally validated stock-taking of one aspect of that quality.

Yes, Prime Minister. It's About Learning!

Robin Horn's picture

Heads of State wave during the 2010 G-20 in TorontoLast week in Jomtien, Thailand, Ministers of Education and senior education officials from 34 countries, joined by supporters from dozens of international agencies and civil society organizations, reaffirmed their commitment to achieving Education for All by 2015.  This high level group was also commemorating the original launch of Education for All twenty years earlier, also in Jomtien.   But education leaders committing themselves to education is preaching to the choir. 

In my last post, 'Rockstars for Reading,' I argued that some of the most successful economies in the world are those that have invested most wisely in the education of their people.  So what are the education investment secrets of the most successful countries?  To put it another way, imagine if a finance minister from one of the most successful economies – such as Korea, Singapore, Brazil, or Mauritius -- were to assume the same post in another country.  What might he or she tell the head of state to encourage more and smarter investment in education?