Recently, JI was mentioned by New York Times as a successful model of the US’s international education endeavor. There has been a heated debate in the newspaper’s Room for Debate page: Are Global Universities Good for US Colleges?
As the economy becomes globalized, more and more American universities are joining the band wagon by setting up overseas branches, joint programs, international research centers, or study abroad programs. Are these trends inevitable or beneficial to American colleges? It is controversial among the education specialists and scholars. In his argument that joint programs and research centers are better options, Dr. Abul Hasan, chairman of the School of Engineering Technologies at Oklahoma State University, pointed out UM-SJTU Joint Institute as a successful example of international education collaboration. The following is the original text from New York Times, Jan 19, 2015.
With the money in the Middle East and in Asia, there will be a number of high quality universities popping up in the region, and if we don’t grab a slice of that pie, others will. As such, it is important for us to go global with higher education, as we have some of the best universities in the world.
Global universities are universities that have branch campuses in different countries, have opened joint institutions with other international universities, or are doing collaborative research with them. A number of issues plague many of these international branch campuses, including but not limited to recruiting and retaining quality faculty, upholding academic standards, retaining academic freedom and financing. New York University, Texas A & M and other big name universities are opening up branch campuses financed by host countries; they have very little to lose and a lot to gain.
But far better than branch campuses is the joint institution model. For example, The University of Michigan has a joint institute with Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and it has been quite successful. Michigan students can study abroad in Shanghai, while the joint institute acts as a pipeline through which Michigan can attract top students from China. Along with joint institutions, collaborative research centers with international universities have also been working well. M.I.T. has established a research alliance with Singapore wherein M.I.T. faculty members mentor postdoctoral associates and graduate students, collaborate with researchers from universities, research institutes and industries in Singapore and Asia. Columbia University has also created global centers around the world to promote faculty research and student exchange opportunities.
American universities should think carefully and plan well before opening a branch campus abroad; any international efforts must include graduate studies and research components in order to be successful. The global university trend is growing, and if these international endeavors are well planned, they will help the American higher education system grow as well.
Abul Hasan is the chairman of the School of Engineering Technologies at Oklahoma State University. He was previously the dean of academic affairs for George Mason University-Ras Al Khaimah and the director of academic affairs for Australian College of Kuwait.
More information about University of Michigan and Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute (UM-SJTU JI)