PKU-Stanford Forum (2016) Academic Bulletin (III)

 Building World-Class Universities: An Institutional Perspective

On the morning of November 5th, the third panel session of the PKU-Stanford Forum, which was also the Education Sub-form of Beijing Forum (2016), was held at the Stanford Center of Peking University. The theme of this morning’s discussion was “Managerial Characteristics of World-class Universities Shaped by Institutional Factors”. This session included two keynote speeches, four panelist initial remarks and a lunch presentation. Professor Jean C. Oi, Director of Stanford University, served as chair of keynote speeches, Ann M. Arvin, Vice Provost of Stanford University, served as panelist initial remarks chair.

From a social perspective, Jaeho Yeom, President and Professor of Korea University, explored complex relationships between universities and other institutions in Korea. Through outlining the strong cultural legacy, regulations and other factors that presented challenges for Korean higher education in the 21st Century, he highlighted creative ways that Korea University took to deal with challenges within the Korean higher education context.

In addressing the conference theme, Prof. Jianhua Lin, President of Peking University, delivered an informative speech on what steps Peking University had taken to innovate its institutional mechanisms so as to accelerate the construction of world class universities. After reviewing the trends in the development of higher education in China, President Lin shared the strategies taking place at Peking University historically and currently, for example, undergraduate teaching reform, personnel system reform, and comprehensive reform. Referring to the goal of Chinese higher educations’ reform, President Lin stressed that the main goal is to construct a set of modern university management mechanisms, which would match the operations and development of top-level universities in a global context. To realize this goal, reforms in the whole educational system, personnel system, distribution of resource, regulatory framework and academic management were needed.

In panel remarks, Wei Zhao, Rector and Professor of the University of Macau, discussed how to “discover oneself” and build a unique university in this era. As a rector of University of Macau, he explained ways of being different from the actual experiences of University of Macau. The University of Macau had selectively borrowed advanced methods while taking ways suited for its own condition and specific situation. In that way, the University of Macau has placed “discovering oneself” above all the other else, instead of coping wholesale from a successful model.

Further explaining the governmental role of university itself, Professor Glen A. Jones, Ontario Research Chair in Postsecondary Education Policy and Measurement and Professor of Higher Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto, analyzed contemporary challenges associated with traditional academic self-governance. Professor Jones concluded that academic self-governance continued to play an important role within university decision-making, but there was fragility associated with the balance of power within and between governance structures.

Considering that environment could influence the development of the university greatly, Professor Isak Froumin, from the National Research University of Russia, took excellence initiatives as cases to discuss the influence of environment and the contradictory strategy of government. He found that excellence initiatives meant transition to greater state control, making the universities’ external environment more and more state-driven.

Motohisa Kaneko, Professor of University of Tsukuba, Japan, discussed how to institutionalize “Super Research Universities” in Japan. His speech examined the rapid expansion of international mobility of students, and analyzed why the pace of internationalization had slowed among Japanese higher education institution. He argued that the present challenge for researches in higher education lied in demonstrating systematically the long-term effect of internationalization of higher education institutions.

On topics regarding the influence of government policy on higher education, fund support, resource support and government decisions, a heated discussion was chaired by Professor Ann M. Arvin. Towards the contradictory strategy of government, Professor Weifang Min made detailed comments based on his experience and development in China. Professor Min pointed out that there was no absolute answer towards government decisions, because the formulation of government decisions depended on the background of specific institutions or even a specific country. He addressed that universities should have more self-governance to release their passion, capability and creativity. Referring to self-governance, President Jianhua Lin and professor Ann M. Arvin, Rector Wei Zhao and Professor Glen A. Jones shared their comments. Based on personal experiences of being the president of three Chinese Universities, President Jianhua Lin shared what he did and what he felt when he was the president of these Universities. He addressed that the extent of self-governance depended on the actual situation of the university, such as the culture of university and the attitude of faculty. Towards the question on how to change the achievements of research into the success of economy, President Lin pointed out that universities could create more technologies and cultivate more innovative talents to improve the development of economy.

During lunch time, a lunch presentation was chaired by Sungsup Ra, the Director of Education Sector Group of Asian Development Bank (ADB). Technical Advisor Brajesh Panth delivered the presentation on ADB’ approach to Higher Education. Through highlighting ADB’s support to higher education and how it evolved over the years, the presentation reflected on what ADB was currently doing in some of its member countries (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Mongolia, Viet Nam) and how ADB viewed the emerging demand for higher education in some other countries (Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand). Overall, the whole purpose is to analyze the growing demand for high quality higher education and raising available methods to evolve a model in developing countries through regional and international partnerships.