Universities learning from cities

More alike than you think?

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a diverting piece on what cities can teach Higher Education. Essentially the argument is that there are many similarities and that a long term view is necessary to deliver success:

Cities and colleges are more alike than people think. Both are considered economic engines that also offer rites of passage and an escape from parochialism. Both host sports teams and their own police forces. Recently the overwhelming debts run up by cities and by students have forced themselves on the public’s attention. Yet despite the significant woes of Detroit and the impending bankruptcies of other American cities, no one is expecting urban living to disappear or be radically transformed. Higher education, however, is not so lucky. Some doomsayers predict the rise of a completely online educational system, spurred by the spread of massive open online courses.

 

Universities really don't want to be like Detroit

Universities really don’t want to be like Detroit

But perhaps one of the most interesting elements is made in relation to the student facilities “arms race”. The piece quotes a recent report which found that there are nearly 160 leisure-and-recreation projects under way on US campuses, representing an investment of some $1.7-billion:

Should we blame students for the party atmosphere on many campuses? That might be tempting, but it ignores the “Club Ed” ambitions of some presidents. Dorms, in many cases, have become full-scale resorts. What is a student to think when seeing, for instance, Texas Tech University’s leisure pool and “lazy river”?

See this recent post on this topic for more on campus facilities. But the real issue here is about looking at the big picture and not being distracted by short term issues:

Cities have also invested in projects that were meant to attract people yet do nothing to encourage the social drama that is the real attraction of cities. We must remember, however, that successful cities are not always the most efficient—that is, efficient in a hasty way. New York has, along with London, some of the most expensive real estate in the world tied up in parkland. Should Central Park be sold off to pay the city’s debts? No, there is more to a city than balancing a budget and more to balancing a budget than balancing it in one year. Whatever gains might be achieved by the quick sale of parkland would be offset by the long-term erosion in quality of life.

Just so with higher education. Philosophy and art may have no direct relation to a job qualification, but an education without them is as soulless and inhumane as the housing projects that were inflicted on generations of the poor.

Much to learn then perhaps.

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Another amusing attack on administrators

Flipping administration. Clever.

An entertaining piece on another splendid idea by Benjamin Ginsberg. A previous post noted his recent book The Fall of the Faculty had a distinctive analysis of the process of strategic planning as a tool for power-hungry administrators.

This time, it is suggested we “forget MOOCs” and use MOOA instead (it really doesn’t make a lot of sense).

Studies show that about 30 percent of the cost increases in higher education over the past twenty-five years have been the result of administrative growth,” Ginsberg noted. He suggested that MOOA can reverse this spending growth.  “Currently, hundreds, even thousands, of vice provosts and assistant deans attend the same meetings and undertake the same activities on campuses around the U.S. every day,” he said.  “Imagine the cost savings if one vice provost could make these decisions for hundreds of campuses.”

This is a completely different MOOA.

This is a completely different MOOA.

Asked if this “one size fits all” administrative concept was realistic given the diversity of problems faced by thousands of schools, Ginsberg noted that a “best practices” philosophy already leads administrators to blindly follow one another’s leads in such realms as planning, staffing, personnel issues, campus diversity, branding and, curriculum planning. The MOOA, said Ginsberg, would take “best practices” a step further and utilize it to realize substantial cost savings.

So, massive open online administrations. It’s good to see that the whole idea has been thought through in real detail and that the MOOA will be offering a strategic plan for lots of institutions early in 2014. With the exciting title of “administeria” it really sounds like a winner.

A winning international strategy

The University of Nottingham wins another award.
 

The Guardian awarded its first HE prizes at a ceremony in London on Thursday. And the University of Nottingham came out top for its international strategy against stiff competition from UCL and Salford.
 

University Awards 2013 buttons_Winner

 

It’s a terrific citation:

As the first university to open a fully operational branch campus in Malaysia in 2000, internationalisation has been in the University of Nottingham DNA for well over a decade. It has since opened a further campus in China, and says that global reach is “hardwired” into its strategic plan.

Ambition on such a scale means you can’t keep your recruitment exclusively based in the UK, so Nottingham has international stude
It’s an approach that’s getting results: over 9,500 students are enrolled in Malaysia and China, and as well as having one of the largest cohorts of international students in the UK, Nottingham is a top 10 recruiter (by volume) in most markets worldwide. With 25% of the university’s academic staff being international, the institution’s commitment to sourcing the best talent available means it also runs one of the largest scholarship programmes for the developing world, explains professor Hai-Sui Yu, pro-vice-chancellor for internationalisation.

 

The University of Nottingham

 

Staff and students also benefit from partnerships with commercial partners in 25 countries across the globe.nt recruiters employed in regional offices in Malaysia, China, Brazil and Mexico. The university’s West Africa office opened in Accra in April 2012 and an India office opened in June last year.

Very pleasing.