Where are the statues of great academics?

There really aren’t a lot of them about

Perhaps it’s because so many are involved in committees and are therefore disqualified by G K Chesterton’s comment: “I’ve searched all the parks in all the cities and found no statues of committees”.

But really there aren’t huge numbers – I can recall statues of Newton and Darwin and there is one of Alan Turing I think but not someone like Professor Herman Pálsson, a wonderful Icelandic scholar who taught at the University of Edinburgh for nearly 40 years (to pick one of my favourite tutors at random).

The position is a bit different in China as this picture shows:

Professors-Yang-and-Greenaway-2012

This is a picture of our Vice-Chancellor with a statue of our Chancellor Emeritus, Professor Yang Fujia, a notable Physicist and former President of Fudan University as well as member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Look more closely at the picture though and you will notice that there are more statues behind them. In fact there are 94 in this particular park, all leading academics originally from Ningbo (also home of the University of Nottingham Ningbo China). This is just extraordinary. The idea of a city having one or two statues of academics would be surprising but a whole park full of them? You just could not envisage it happening in the UK. At least not right now. But why not?

Perhaps part of valuing universities “for their intrinsic, as well as economic, worth” (Page 17, Coalition Mid-Term Review, 7 January 2013) should be about reminding everyone just how great academics at UK universities are (wherever in the world they are from). So come on BIS, why not commission a few statues.

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New Branch Campuses in China

Some new Branch Campuses on the way

The University of Nottingham admitted its first students in China back in 2004, establishing the first Sino-Foreign University in China and then opening its campus, pictured above, in Ningbo in 2006. There are now over 5,500 students following University of Nottingham degrees at the University of Nottingham Ningbo China. Since then others have followed, employing different models at different scales and with various partners.

An earlier blog post covered the general expansion of branch campuses. Now Hanover Research has a piece on prospective branch campuses in China. It reports that the the Observatory of Borderless Higher Education (OBHE) has identified at least seven branch campuses currently being planned for mainland China – accounting for approximately one-fifth of all branch campuses slated to open through to 2014. All are from western universities, with five from the United States and two from the United Kingdom. The article actually lists seven US universities:

  • New York University
  • Duke
  • George Washington U
  • Berkeley
  • Kean (which seems to be the most advanced)
  • Missouri St Louis with Missouri U of Science and Technology

The piece doesn’t name the UK universities but I have a pretty good idea about one of them.

Some more details of the OBHE report can be found in a University World News story on the topic and some surprising information about Chinese university opening a European branch featured in an earlier blog post.

International branch campuses- some surprising developments

Some new and rather surprising branch campus developments

The Observatory on Borderless Higher Education’s new report on international branch campuses (IBCs), entitled ‘International Branch Campuses: Data and Developments’, was released on 12 January and is covered in a previous post. The report included a list of 37 planned branch campuses, most of which are due to open this year or in 2013.

In the intervening six weeks the Observatory reports that it has come across more planned branch campuses in a range of countries, including Cyprus, Egypt, Italy, Malaysia, Thailand and UAE. More than a dozen are identified including this perhaps rather surprising one in Italy:


Ningbo University
, China, will set up a campus in Florence, to open in September 2012. This is the second Chinese branch campus abroad, the first being Soochow University in Laos, and the first South-to-North operation coming from China. As noted in the Observatory’s report, South-to-North is here to stay and more are expected to launch over the next few years.

The project was negotiated at the local rather than the national level. According to University World News, Florentine officials said that there was no need for authorisation from the Italian government and the campus would not be regulated under Italian higher education law. This highlights two aspects of the Italian higher education system – a high level of devolution, with local authorities playing an active role in higher education policy, and a lack of flexibility at the national level. The mayor of Turin revealed in a recent interview with La Stampa that he wants to attract foreign universities and is in touch with American universities.

Ningbo’s campus in Florence will mainly target Chinese students, and the first courses will be in art and culture. Chinese students started coming to Italy only recently and now constitute the second-largest national group of students in the country. Italian commentators have also noted the forging of ties between Italy and China across many sectors, which can be interpreted in various ways in the light of the crisis in Europe and growing anti-European sentiment in Italy. Others point towards a closer relationship between China and the EU.

Fascinating stuff and challenges the expected view of western universities opening branch campuses in the east.

Surrey catches on

According to the BBC website, Surrey is aiming to emulate the University of Nottingham’s internationalisation achievements in China and Malaysia. The Guardian also carries the story.

UNNC

The University of Surrey wants to offer degrees in which students might move each year between partner universities in three countries. This could include universities in the US, China and elsewhere in Asia. The partnership will create undergraduate and postgraduate courses in management, computing and entrepreneurship – with the aim of allowing Chinese students to study in Guildford and for UK students to spend part of the course at Dongbei. Courses in China will be taught in English and will replicate those taught at the University of Surrey.

It’s a good pitch and well articulated. The fact that others are following suit helps to reinforce the value of what the University of Nottingham is doing.