Trends, insights and research to inform growth and innovation strategies in international higher education.

May 31, 2013

Chris Rudd, Pro Vice Chancellor, University of Nottingham on Transnational Education


Professor Chris D Rudd, BSc PhD DSc CEng FIMechE FIM
Pro Vice Chancellor and Professor of Mechanical Engineering
University of Nottingham

Chris Rudd began his career as a sea-going engineer with the P&O Steam Navigation Company. He has been a faculty member at Nottingham since 1989 and is well known for his work on lightweight structures and fibre technology. He is a former Dean of Engineering and has held the role of Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Vice President) since 2008. His responsibilities include External Engagement – business partnerships, commercialisation and philanthropic fundraising. Much of his recent work has focused on Asia where he has led many trade visits and developed a string of R&D partnerships with the corporate sector. He is a director of the China-Britain Business Council and a regular commentator on University-led innovation and east-west technology exchange.

Rahul - University of Nottingham has been an exemplar for many institutions seeking to internationalize. What are the top two priorities of the University for next three years in continuing the internationalization agenda? What role do you and your office play in meeting the priorities?

Chris - The last decade has been incredibly exciting as UoN has gone from tentative startup mode to being a confident leader in the roll-out of global education programmes. Have observed that journey first as a faculty member and secondly as one of UoN’s Vice-Presidents I would go so far as to say that TNE has, to a large extent, redefined the institution self-image. The watershed came, I think, when Nottingham’s overseas campuses became embedded in the community as an integral part of “whom we are” rather seen as a whim of senior management. There is no easy win here, but a need for persistent engagement and frequent staff and student exchange to promote the quality of our Asian operations, the excellence of the students and the impact we are having in those host communities.

If faculty and students are going to embrace overseas campuses as part of the family then they need to be able recognize the defining features of the parent. A research intensive parent needs to have research intensive branch campuses. Business engagement, knowledge exchange, CSR and philanthropy programmes – these are all part of the package and key components of our diversification strategy as our communities bed in to new surroundings.

It has been a privilege to help develop UoN’s agendas in Malaysia and China. Very soon after the first graduates appeared from in-country delivery I was asked to explore the wider benefits that could be leveraged from an Asian footprint. Here we have benefited greatly from first mover advantage and secured some fantastic local partners in the state and private sectors. Access to overseas technology and internationally trained talent is, for the time being, a key attraction for partners. Being close to the market and recognized as a long term investor in both regions delivers profound opportunities – both for UoN and for our existing western business partners.

Rahul - How do you see the business and technology shaping the future of transnational education, especially for infrastructure-intensive branch campuses?

Chris - Although we support research and education links on a worldwide basis Asia has become our USP over the past decade. As we increasingly embed ourselves in that region our network of contacts and market intelligence brings many opportunities. Local presence means that the critical process of relationship management is much smoother than when the partners are separated by 5,000 miles, even with the benefits of communications technology.

Business to business partnerships are not simply desirable for western HEIs entering Asia – they are mission-critical in the medium term. Business links help to demonstrate the value-add to graduates from a relatively expensive overseas qualification, they provide resource to support research and they demonstrate to host governments the economic impact of admitting foreign HE providers. They form one component of a holistic branch campus operation. Naturally there are challenges; staff turnover tends to be higher than it is in the west and the ratio of junior faculty to senior professors is also somewhat higher. However, these are growing pains and compensated by the exclusivity that goes with being an early mover as well as the talent and energy of our students and junior faculty.

We’re often asked about our response to an implied competitive threat from other foreign startups, from MOOCs or from Asian institutions moving west. These are all healthy consequences of an increasingly diversified, global market. The HE sector is heterogeneous and different forms of delivery work more or less well for different styles of institution. UoN has set a benchmark for campus delivery and it is likely that we will pursue that in the medium term, focusing on quality of experience, breadth of activity and networking our global assets.
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May 25, 2013

St. Louis: Hosting NAFSA Annual Conference and Attracting Immigrant Talent

St. Louis, Missouri, a city with a population of nearly 315,000 will see an influx of 10,000 international education professionals from across the world in the last week of May. The event is annual conference of NAFSA: Association of International Educators. It brings together professionals working with universities and related organizations and offers them networking and educational opportunities under several tracks including International Education Leadership, International Enrollment Management, International Student & Scholar Services, Teaching Learning and Scholarship and Education Abroad.

I will be attending the conference and chairing two sessions on Wednesday the 29th. Here are the details:

1. Transnational Education: Models and Measures of Success
This session offers compare perspectives from the US, the UK, and Australia on models of delivering transnational education and how they define and measure success. Co-presenters are :
  • Joe Chicharo, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International), University of Wollongong
  • Christopher Hill, Director of Research Training and Academic Development Knowledge Without Borders Network, Convenor Academic Director PGCHE University of Nottingham, Malaysia
  • Grant Chapman, AVP Academic Affairs/Director of International Programs, Webster University (again headquartered in St. Louis) 
2. International Recruitment: Strategic Choices for Delivering Results
This session compares international student recruitment from Australia, Germany, the UK, and the US on making those tough strategic choices that deliver results within constraints. Co-presenters are :
  • Martin Bickl, Director of the International Office, Goethe University Frankfurt
  • Andrew Disbury, Director of the International Office, Leeds Metropolitan University
  • Sharyn Maskell, Director, International & Marketing Services at Queensland University of Technology
St. Louis is also in news for another reason related to international education--Immigration and Innovation Initiative which aims to "Significantly growing our population of foreign-born residents is an economic imperative for the St. Louis." A recent report  entitled “The Economic Impact of Immigration on St. Louis” highlighted following facts:
  • "The region’s relative scarcity of immigrants largely explains our poor economic growth, and the St. Louis metro’s fall from the 10th largest MSA in 1970 in the U.S. to 18 in population and 20 in economic output in 2010.  
  • If St. Louis had experienced inflows of immigrants similar to other large metros, income growth would have been 4-7% greater, and the region’s income would be 7-11% larger. 
  • Encouraging an inflow of foreign-born to match other large metros would increase job growth 4-5%; thus, the region’s lack of immigration explains in large part its poor job creation engine.  
  • Immigrants are 60% more likely to be entrepreneurs in the region, and therefore, the relative lack of immigrants is a major factor in explaining the region’s shortage of new business startups."
A related article in the Wall Street Journal noted that the Rust Belt, a region historically strong in manufacturing which was also a leading destination for immigrants a century ago is "betting that attracting foreign-born residents can spur business creation and revive neighborhoods."  It adds that "Between 2000 and 2011, the Rust Belt...was home to 18 of the 25 fastest-shrinking cities in the U.S. Their proportion of foreign-born residents, moreover, lagged well behind the national average of about 13%, with less than 5% in some cities."

The developments in the Rust Belt in general and the St. Louis in particular align with the debate on the comprehensive immigration reform in the US,  which also plans to encourage high skill migration by attracting, retaining and integrating global talent.

Next week will surely be exciting for St. Louis with NAFSA conference, however, it would also be interesting to see if city's Immigrant & Innovation Initiative can make it a model for other states in the US. 
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May 21, 2013

how is the mobility of international doctoral students likely to shift?

University World News published a special issue on development and trends with doctoral education and student mobility across the world. I contributed a piece entitled "The future of international doctoral mobility" for this special issue. Here is an edited excerpt of the article.

In ”The Disposable Academic”, The Economist argued that "doing a PhD” was often a waste of time. However, this pessimism does not reflect the experience of all students, as evidenced by increasing numbers of doctoral students from the global South heading to the advanced economies of the North in the past 20 years.

Two primary factors influence mobility and stay rates of international doctoral students: the comparative access to opportunities for doctoral training and professional advancement between their host and home countries.

How is the mobility of international students at doctoral level likely to shift in the next 20 years? It will be shaped by the collision of two counter-trends enabling and limiting mobility.

The expansion of undergraduate-level higher education in developing countries is increasing the supply of students who qualify for and aspire to a doctoral education. This will continue to fuel the mobility of foreign students seeking doctoral education abroad.

Concurrently, as the quality of the higher education system in the source countries improves, outward mobility may become more limited, as the differences in quality between domestic universities and foreign ones narrow.

Likewise, in terms of stay rate, two counter-trends will be at work. Students who go abroad to earn doctoral degrees may not stay to work because of the improving opportunities for economic reward and professional advancement in their home countries.

Simultaneously, the proactive immigration policies of host countries, devised to encourage talent retention, may effectively implore international students to remain.

Overall, this complex interplay of counter-trends will shape the future mobility of international students seeking doctoral education.

Based on the limited success of developing countries in instigating meaningful reforms in their higher education sectors, it is safe to predict that doctoral talent mobility will continue to be strong with high stay rates, especially in STEM-related fields.

Key source countries have to work harder and smarter to retain talent and provide competitive opportunities for developing and engaging talent, as Brazil does with Science Without Borders or Chile does with Becas.

Doctoral talent mobility will continue to reflect the reality of an interconnected, globalised world where individuals and nations try to maximise their growth and competitiveness.

The key is not to frame global talent mobility as a zero-sum game and that applies to doctoral talent too. After all, the academic is not yet disposable, not least the globally mobile ones of tomorrow.

Read full article here.
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May 06, 2013

Impact of Supreme Court ruling on AICTE and MBA programs in India

In 2004, several colleges in the State of Tamil Nadu affiliated to Bharathidasan University and Manonmaniam Sundaranar University filed a case questioning the role of All Indian Council of Technical Education (AICTE)--Indian regulatory body for technical education including engineering and management.

One of the core question they asked was--"Whether the colleges affiliated to University are obliged to take separate permission/approval from the AICTE to run classes in Technical Courses in which the affiliated university of the colleges is not required to obtain any permission/approval under the AICTE Act itself?" (p.6)

Nine years later, the Supreme Court of India answered "... that the colleges who have opened the courses in question are affiliated to the universities. They are the controlling authorities with regard to their intake capacity for each course, the standards to be followed for each course, the syllabus of the course, the examination process etc.... Thus, for all intents and purposes the courses are being run by the Universities." (p. 7). "Therefore, the control upon the affiliated colleges of the University is vested with the University itself and it cannot be said that for certain type of courses the control will be with the AICTE." (p.11)

Download full judgment of the Supreme Court of India on AICTE's purview of MBA programs in India.

Of course, the judgment has created a sense of euphoria and confusion at the same time with varying range of analysis and interpretations with specific reference to MBA programs.

According to one analysis the recent ruling is limited to MBA programs offered at universities. It "...has taken away MBA (not PGDM) and MCA courses in India away from the purview of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), deeming these courses to not be of 'technical' nature....[The ruling] effectively ends the stronghold of AICTE on government-run MBA courses after 13 years. Not needing approval from AICTE anymore, these universities can now take higher control of their MBA programs. Furthermore, AICTE’s role is now only of advisory nature and the council can only provide recommendations to the UGC."

While another analysis in The New Indian Express extends it implications to all affiliated colleges. It notes "The effect of such a sweeping Supreme Court order is not as simple as it was originally captured by various newspapers. Any of the over 30,000 affiliated colleges can start new courses or programmes that come under the purview of AICTE without seeking its approval. All that the affiliated college must ensure is that it has the approval of the affiliating university and follow or at least appear to follow the norms and standards prescribed by AICTE."

I recently co-presented a webinar "India – The Next Frontier" hosted by American Council on Education's (ACE) Center for Internationalization and Global Engagement in partnership with the Boston College Center for International Higher Education. In accompanying article entitled "Partnerships in India: Navigating the Policy and Legal Maze" I argued that one of the "roots of complexity of Indian higher education policy and law stem from the structure of higher education where hundreds of  'teaching' colleges—private or public— are 'affiliated' with one public university, which in turn could be funded by state or central (national) resources."

The recent case of court judgment on AICTE clarifies and complicates the situation of college affiliation system. My interpretation of the situation is two-fold. On the one hand, role and influence of University Grants Commission (UGC)--regulatory body responsible for promoting and coordinating university education--and universities themselves, in maintaining and enforcing quality assurance for MBA programs will increase at the expense of AICTE. This is positive factor as there had been lot of confusion about role and efficacy of AICTE.

On the other hand, business education in India is already in a state of crisis and hitting a slowdown in growth (see latest statistics on number of B-schools in India) and a regulatory vacuum will further aggravate the situation. UGC itself has been struggling in enforcing quality standards. For example, the case of IIPM has been constantly embarrassing powers and purview of UGC. Here is my earlier post "IIPM: Mocking at Quality of Indian Higher Education?"

Overall, next few months will be interesting to see how institutions, regulators and students react to the situation. However, one thing is clear--expect more confusion before clarity emerges.

Share your thoughts or comments about the implications of the judgment on future of MBA programs in India.

Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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