Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

HE&me

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

HE&me

Article excerpt

Curt Rice is a professor in the department of languages and linguistics at UiT The Arctic University of Norway (formerly the University of Tromsø) and a member of its board. He is founding director of the university's Center for Advanced Study in Theoretical Linguistics and leader of Norway's Committee for Gender Balance and Diversity in Research. When he becomes rector of the Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences in August, he will be the first foreigner to head a Norwegian institution

Where and when were you born?

I was born in 1962 in Johnson City, New York. When I was four years old, we moved to Minnesota and I spent most of the rest of my childhood there.

How has this shaped you?

My parents were part of a mobile generation willing to make geographically significant moves to pursue career opportunities. That is part of the context in which it even was thinkable for me to pursue a career in Norway.

How does it feel to be not only the first outside appointment to this position but also the first non-Norwegian to lead one of the country's institutions?

It feels big. It feels like an enormous responsibility to a group of people who have deeply impressed me [over] the past few months as I've started to get to know the institution. Being the first foreigner to fill such a position will create opportunities to contribute to the further internationalisation of Norwegian higher education and, perhaps, of Norway in general.

How strong is Norway's higher education system, and could it become a major global player?

Norwegian institutions could do a much better job of receiving and supporting foreign students and faculty. Norwegians love to follow the rules, and...some of those are invisible to newcomers. That is part of why things move so slowly here. If we're going to increase our international position - which is in Norway's interest - we have to realise that our current systems require significant simplification.

How does it differ from the US sector? Are there aspects of Norway's higher education that could be adopted by the US and vice versa?

Higher education in the US is not monolithic, which makes it difficult to answer this question. But I do think the four-year bachelor model in the US gives a broader education than the three-year Bologna model, and it's been a loss for Europe to have shortened that degree. The US, of course, has tremendous resources available for research as a result of its culture of philanthropy. …

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