The Great Brain Race

The Great Brain Race: How Global Universities Are Reshaping the World

Ben Wildavsky
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 248
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7pf26
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  • Book Info
    The Great Brain Race
    Book Description:

    InThe Great Brain Race, formerU.S. News & World Reporteducation editor Ben Wildavsky presents the first popular account of how international competition for the brightest minds is transforming the world of higher education--and why this revolution should be welcomed, not feared. Every year, nearly three million international students study outside of their home countries, a 40 percent increase since 1999. Newly created or expanded universities in China, India, and Saudi Arabia are competing with the likes of Harvard and Oxford for faculty, students, and research preeminence. Satellite campuses of Western universities are springing up from Abu Dhabi and Singapore to South Africa. Wildavsky shows that as international universities strive to become world-class, the new global education marketplace is providing more opportunities to more people than ever before.

    Drawing on extensive reporting in China, India, the United States, Europe, and the Middle East, Wildavsky chronicles the unprecedented international mobility of students and faculty, the rapid spread of branch campuses, the growth of for-profit universities, and the remarkable international expansion of college rankings. Some university and government officials see the rise of worldwide academic competition as a threat, going so far as to limit student mobility or thwart cross-border university expansion. But Wildavsky argues that this scholarly marketplace is creating a new global meritocracy, one in which the spread of knowledge benefits everyone--both educationally and economically.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3423-5
    Subjects: Education, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xvi)
    Chevy Chase
  4. Introduction What Is Global Higher Education—and Why Does It Matter?
    (pp. 1-13)

    At first glance, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Madras seems to be an incongruous place to witness the increasingly international reach of academic life. Nestled in a national park filled with deer and magnificent banyan trees, IIT–Madras’s lush campus in southeast India looks somewhat remote and sleepy. But appearances can be deceiving. The institute’s director, M. S. Ananth, has just returned from Davos, where he took part in an international higher education working group headed by Yale University president Richard Levin. The university guesthouse, where monkeys sometimes invade visitors’ rooms if windows are left open, is hosting...

  5. Chapter One The Worldwide Race for Talent
    (pp. 14-41)

    When Claire Booyjzsen finished her master’s degree at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, the world was her oyster. Intent on pursuing a PhD in chemistry, she consulted global rankings of universities to identify some of the strongest. Then she conducted more research, corresponding with professors and students to narrow down her list. She ultimately applied to eleven institutions. After the acceptance letters came in, she traveled to Coventry, England, where she is now a third-year doctoral student at the University of Warwick, an institution where one in five students comes from overseas. “It’s really multicultural here,” says...

  6. Chapter Two Branching Out
    (pp. 42-69)

    After the recruitment of students and professors from foreign countries, perhaps the most visible symbol of just how much universities are bending over backward to cater to a worldwide market is their establishment of branch campuses, or satellite campuses, abroad. These campuses are quite different from the study-abroad centers sponsored for years by universities such as Stanford and New York University, which are intended primarily for undergraduates who wish to spend a summer, semester, or year studying in a foreign country. Instead, despite occasional cross-pollination between home and overseas student populations, branch campuses are typically intended to cater to students...

  7. Chapter Three Wanted: World-Class Universities
    (pp. 70-99)

    Globalization doesn’t necessarily mean operating campuses across national boundaries. Nor must it involve recruiting students and professors from other countries. While those phenomena are obviously widespread, still another form of globalization involves a nation’s concerted effort to compete internationally by creating world-class universities. Such institutions are not clearly defined; as Boston College’s Philip Altbach memorably observes, “Everyone wants one, no one knows what it is, and no one knows how to get one.”¹ Still, the widely shared understanding is that world-class institutions will be closely modeled on the Western research university—and in particular on the hugely successful American research...

  8. Chapter Four College Rankings Go Global
    (pp. 100-140)

    It would be hard to overstate just how contentious rankings of U.S. colleges and universities have become in recent years. As editor of theU.S. News & World Reportcollege guides in the mid-2000s, I became accustomed to a steady stream of college presidents and admissions officials visiting the magazine’s Washington, DC offices to complain about the publication’s influential college rankings. Some thought outsiders—especially journalists—shouldn’t be ranking colleges at all. Some took exception to one or more aspects of the methodology used to calculate each college’s standing. Others insisted that if only their own data had been properly...

  9. Chapter Five For-Profits on the Move
    (pp. 141-166)

    As a seventeen-year-old high school senior in Baltimore in the early 1980s, Douglas Becker combined his interest in computers, his aspiration to be a doctor, and his entrepreneurial sensibility to start a company that could carry out his ideas for computerizing medical records. He was so intent on pursuing his plan that he twice deferred acceptance to Harvard (and ultimately never went to college at all). Within two years, his health care firm was purchased by Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Becker and three friends who were his partners took the proceeds and created a private equity firm. They quickly decided to...

  10. Chapter Six Free Trade in Minds
    (pp. 167-193)

    What does it mean that students now move around the globe in unprecedented numbers? That academic migration is beginning to shift, so that students are not only heading to traditional magnets such as the United States and Great Britain but also to new hot spots such as Australia and Singapore? How should we understand a world in which well-established Western universities begin to extend their “brands”—just like successful corporations—to faraway nations in the Middle East and Asia? What is the meaning of the push by countries from China and South Korea to France and Germany to establish (or...

  11. Afterword
    (pp. 194-198)

    In higher education, as in just about every twenty-first-century human endeavor, it seems hard to imagine that globalization will ever go away. National borders are simply less relevant than they once were. Student and faculty mobility has exploded. Cross-national research collaboration is more common than ever. Branch campuses abound. Research universities compete with rivals well beyond their own shores. Global college rankings proliferate. For-profit firms rush to cater to demand in new markets. The merit principle becomes increasingly dominant, both within and across nations. The best students shop for universities like consumers in a world-wide marketplace.

    That said, numerous questions...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 199-220)
  13. Index
    (pp. 221-240)