As never before in the history, universities have become instruments of national competition as well as instruments of peace. They are the locus of the scientific discoveries that move economies forward, and the primary means of educating the talent required to obtain and maintain competitive advantage. But at the same time, the opening of national borders to the flow of goods, services, information and especially people has made the universities a powerful force for global integration, mutual understanding and geopolitical stability.
In response to the same forces that have propelled the world economy, universities have become more self consciously global: seeking students from around the world who represent the entire spectrum of cultures and values, sending their own students abroad to prepare them for global careers, offering courses of study that address the challenges of an interconnected world and collaborative research programs to advance science for the benefit of all humanity.
Of the forces shaping higher education none is more sweeping than the movement across borders. Over the past three decades the number of students leaving home each year to study abroad has grown at an annual rate of 3.9 percent, from 800,000 in 1975 to 2.5 million in 2004. Most travel from one developed nation to another, but the flow from developing to developed countries is growing rapidly.
Astoundingly 8 of the top 10 Universities and 33 of the 50 Top World's Most Global Universities are American.
Thus it is not surprising that presently universities globally are adapting more American research practices. Until recently, for instance, Japan allocated research funding block grants, which wound up in the hands of the country's most senior - but not necessarily most productive - professors. But between 2000 and 2004, the country increased the volume of grants subject to competitive review by 57 percent, in an effort to direct funding to the more meritorious.
Even more - dramatic changes are taking place in China, where a number of leading universities, intent on attaining world - class status, have been carefully studying America's top institutions for new ideas. These include widening the search for new faculty well beyond their own graduates, establishing rigorous standards for awarding lifetime tenure and consulting with independent experts on personnel decisions. Several leading universities have ditched the traditional specialized undergraduate curriculum for a year or two of general education followed by free choice of a major field of study, as is common in the United States. Some are experimenting with using criteria other than national exams to admit students. And many elite universities are determined to abandon recitation in favor of classroom interaction that encourages students to think independently - a hopeful sign for those eager to see a fully democratic China.
Europe, by contrast has lost its competitive edge. According to "The Future of European Universities: Renaissance or Decay?" a devastating recent critique by Confederation of British Industry Director General Richard Lambert and Nick Butler, Chief of Strategic Planning at British Petroleum, European governments have systematically weakened their top universities, once the pride of the world. To flourish they need to concentrate more resources in the hands of the strongest universities and allow them to generate revenue by charging tuition fees like their U.S.counterparts - and awarding financial aid to those in greatest need. Thus it is not surprising to note that the world's Global Top 10 includes eight American universities plus Oxford and Cambridge. The American Universities include Harvard, Stanford, Yale, California Institute of Technology, Berkeley, MIT, University of California San Francisco and Columbia University.
America has become the world's No.1 destination for international students. Over 600,000 international students pursue their dreams in the U.S. every year, including nearly 30,000 from the U.K. and Australia. The U.S. is the Gold standard in higher education and a role model for other countries. (Source: Newsweek, Sept 2003).
It doesn't matter what field of study you want to pursue or field of you are interested in, America is a leader. From Wall Street, the center of world banking and finance to NASA, IBM and Microsoft, icons of cutting - edge technology, to dominate consumer market leaders like McDonalds and Coca Cola. From computer Gurus in Silicon Valley and entertainment giants in Hollywood and on Broadway, America is a leader.
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