First, Catch Your Faculty-A Recipe for Excellence

Monday, October 17, 2011

Is there a foolproof recipe for academic success? Philip Altbach and Jamil Salmi, the co-authors of “The Road to Academic Excellence,” a new study of what makes for a “world-class research university,” suggest there just might be.

With funding from the Ford Foundation and the World Bank, the two scholars have examined efforts by 10 universities around the world, from China and South Korea to India, Nigeria, Mexico and Chile, to gain admission into the elite ranks of the world’s leading universities.

Some, like the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile (founded in 1888) or the National University of Singapore (founded in 1905) were venerable institutions. Others, like the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay (founded in 1958) were newer. And some, like Korea’s Pohang University of Science and Technology (1986) and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (1991) were launched with an explicit goal of making a global impact. But what they all have in common, say the two authors, is that in each case “these universities play a key societal role by serving as cultural institutions, centers for social commentary and criticism, and intellectual hubs.”

“We’re both convinced that serious research universities are important in almost all societies,” Mr. Altbach, who is the director of the Center for International Higher Education at Boston College, said in an interview.

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