We're not sure that higher education needs to be more like BMW than Ford - why not the beauty and power of the AND?
In a recent Sunday Morning Herald article James Athanasou makes the case that:
We see that there are a number of perspectives that could be take on this. Firstly, specialsiation of courses and course providers increases quality, innovation, research, leadership and the retention of talent. This also leads to greater esteem and regard for courses, their graduates and higher salaries for those that are alumni. So, we do see value in a smaller number of quality providers with specialised graduates.
BMW sells premium products to upwardly-mobile individuals, companies and organisations. BMW often chooses one single supplier of services, to ensure the products it receives, the components it builds with and the organisation is operates is world-class, regardless of the country it operates in.
Secondly, and contrarily, we see access to education as a critical factor in increasing the the intellectual capacity and workforce capability of a nation. For many countries there is no possible option for quality, respected and transferable education in their home country and so travelling overseas for education provides positive outcomes for the individual student, the nation they return to and for the host country (export education dollars earned, hospitality revenue increased over the period of study, access to increased student-workforce labour etc.). To enable this to happen a small number of specialized universities can not cope with this 'greater good' approach so expansion is needed.
Ford openly sees itself as a mass producer of consumer products that eliminate difference (and some would say 'error') to ensure consistency.
Thirdly, and thanks to Jim Collins term, we believe that the a good to great approach would be AND.
There can be specialized universities with tailored courses that hone in on specific disciplines and have high entrance requirements that ensure the best-of-the-best create the an enhanced outcome for the host nation.
There can be expanded undergraduate courses from growing number of universities that meet internal (in-country) and external (international) demand for education.
Globaledtalk.com is a contribution platform for educators, published by Craig T. Hansen