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

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

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

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

Synopsis

In The Great Brain Race, former U. S. News & World Report education 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. In a new preface, Wildavsky discusses some of the notable developments in global higher education since the book was first published.

Excerpt

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 a range of foreign academics, including David Mumford, a prominent Brown University mathematician. Outside the campus recruiting office are sign-up sheets for students to schedule interviews with Google, McKinsey, and the like. And along the same hallways is a poster advertising scholarships to the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, or KAUST, a brand-new graduate school in Saudi Arabia that is hurrying to become a world-class center of learning.

That KAUST seeks to recruit IIT graduates is no surprise—these students have become a prized commodity in the new global talent market. The IITs, a network of elite engineering schools that date back to India's postcolonial days, are celebrated for educating the nation's top students, including the co founders of such pioneering high-tech firms as Infosys and Sun Microsystems. These prestigious schools admit less than 3 percent of all applicants. Indeed, the frenzy to gain acceptance is such that some . . .

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