Paul J. Yakoboski
Principal Research Fellow
December 2008 |
Higher education, like other sectors, now functions in a global environment of consumers, employees, competitors and partners. The fundamental missions of teaching, research and service remain unchanged, but the avenues for pursuing them have greatly expanded due to globalization. In November 2008, the TIAA-CREF Institute hosted Higher Education in a Global Society to examine emerging international issues, challenges and opportunities for higher education. The conference brought together presidents, chancellors, other senior campus officials, higher education researchers and thought leaders, and the senior management of TIAA-CREF.
Several common themes emerged from the presentations and dialogue. Students need an international experience to be effective citizens and workers in the emerging global order. But there are multiple means for colleges and universities to provide such experience. Challenges facing the world call for international research collaborations. But such collaborations need to be entered into with due diligence by institutions and then be led by the academics rather than administrators. Higher education in the rest of the world is catching up to the standard set by the U.S. system. But to U.S. institutions that think strategically, the focus on higher education abroad presents genuine opportunities to better fulfill their missions and to do so on a global scale. It will be imperative for higher education to clearly articulate to domestic constituencies the benefits for students and society at large of investments in global initiatives.