Last month the World Bank hosted Mr.Kapil Sibal, India’s Minister of Human Resources and Development. Sibal spoke to a packed audience about India’s contributions to the global knowledge economy and discussed some of his widely publicized education reforms and plans for the Indian education system. The highlight of the event was Sibal’s display of the $35 tablet PC which he hoped to launch soon as a technology aide to help bridge quality gaps in secondary education. The event was chaired by Tamar Manuelyan Atinc, Vice President of the Human Development Network, and moderated by Mr. Michal Rutkowski, Sector Director for Human Development in the South Asia Region.
When I published my first book on World Class Universities two years ago, I certainly did not anticipate the world-wide exposure it received. Now, I sometimes worry about having contributed to raising expectations about the importance of world-class universities.
When I visited Nigeria last year, I was told that the country wanted to have 20 World Class Universities by 2020. Recently, Sri Lanka announced that it would increase its higher education budget in the hope of having at least one world-class university. Today we launched The Road to Academic Excellence, a new book I edited with Professor Phil Altbach, and already, the burden of guilt regarding the possible consequences of the new book haunt me.
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?
Co-authored by Roberta Bassett and Jennifer Pye, Tertiary Education Team
We are reaching out to the global tertiary education community to create a forum for discussing equity in access and success. For us, as part of the growing community of bloggers on education at the World Bank, feedback from our readers is important to help fulfill the institution’s mission of fighting poverty and supporting human development. Your views on our work, insights and knowledge contribute to our quest to further our understanding on how best to go about providing equitable access to educational opportunities for all. We hope you will take some time to read this blog entry and explore our web site on Equity of Access and Success in Tertiary Education to learn more. Your comments will feed into our report on the situation of equity in tertiary education that we will be drafting over the next few months based on the background reports and studies found on our website. We hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to help us to drive our work forward and improve equitable access to education for all.
This is my last post sharing the top 10 common errors when building new world class universities based on my work over the past 17 years at the World Bank and reflecting on my observations from working with colleagues involved in advising countries keen to establish new tertiary education institutions. A full version of the lessons can be accessed at Ten Common Errors When Building a New World-Class University.
8. Be too ambitious in enrollment targets. The leaders of new institutions sometimes think that they can rapidly enroll large numbers of students, often in the tens of thousands. This is rarely achieved without sacrificing quality. In the 1970s, E.F. Schumacher wrote in his famous book “Small is Beautiful” that successful development projects were preferably of a small size.
This week, I’m sharing the top 10 common errors when building new world class universities based on my work over the past 17 years at the World Bank and reflecting on my observations from working with colleagues involved in advising countries keen to establish new tertiary education institutions. We started with the magnificent campus and expectation that magic will come from it, followed it with the errors related to the curriculum, content and the overall ecosystem within which universities exist. Today, we delve into some other common errors, here are common errors 5, 6 and 7.
5. Delay putting in place the board and appointing the leadership team. The resolution to establish a new university is often a political decision reflecting a visionary ambition at the highest levels that a ministry or a technical project team is then charged with putting into action. This typically leads to a centrally managed design and implementation process.
This week, I’m sharing the top 10 common errors when building new world class universities based on my work over the past 17 years at the World Bank and reflecting on my observations from working with colleagues involved in advising countries keen to establish new tertiary education institutions. Yesterday I focused on the magnificent campus and the expectation that magic will come from it; today, I delve into some other common errors when building a world class university. Here are common errors number 2, 3 and-4.
2. Design the curriculum after constructing the facilities. It is often assumed that teaching and learning can easily adapt to the physical environment of the institution. This may be true for traditional lecture-based teaching, but innovative pedagogical practices often require equally innovative facilities.For example, interactive approaches, problem-based learning or pedagogical methods relying heavily on teamwork and peer learning are constrained by the physical limitations of conventional lecture halls or even classrooms.
Drawing inspiration from the recent post on the World Bank EduTech Blog by Michael Trucano on "worst practices in ICT in education" I was prompted to compile a list of common errors when attempting to build new world-class universities posted on the Inside Higher Education World Views Blog a few weeks ago. Over the next few days, I’d like to share a more extended version of these common errors, reflecting on my observations from working with colleagues involved in advising countries keen to establish new tertiary education institutions. I am especially indebted to Richard Hopper for giving me the opportunity to learn a lot and for contributing “error number 6”. I would also like to thank Roberta Malee Bassett for her insightful comments and helpful suggestions. Last but not least, I am grateful to Richard Miller, Founding President of Olin College in Massachusetts and Shamsh Kassim-Lakha, Founding President of Aga Khan University in Karachi, for sharing their wisdom and invaluable experience in the most generous manner.
By Roberta Bassett, Tertiary Education Specialist, Human Development Network
The ability of a society to produce, select, adapt, commercialize, and use knowledge is critical for sustained economic growth and improved living standards. As a locus for both knowledge creation and dissemination, tertiary education institutions help countries build globally competitive economies by developing a skilled, productive and flexible labor force and by creating, applying and spreading new ideas and technologies. In middle and low-income countries, tertiary education works to build the institutional capacity that is essential to reducing poverty and achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
For that growth to be inclusive, opportunities to access and succeed in higher education must be as equitable as possible. A global study is being undertaken on Equity of Access and Success in Tertiary Education, funded by the government of the Netherlands through the Bank-Netherlands Partnership Program (BNPP).