I opened my alumni magazine.  A proud graduate of a prestigious university, I eagerly await to read the latest advances in research and science.

I turn pages....I see words.....globalization.... internationalization......I open the center spread to reveal:  My School is going to India!

This is the  latest accomplishment of my alma mater?  

I stared for a moment and thought, What is a state funded university, with state taxpayer money, doing literally moving to other nations?  

Isn't our university system supposed to primarily teach us?  Isn't Academia supposed to generate innovation and research for the United States?   Hasn't that been the key to America's success as well as the ultimate social mobility factor for Americans?  While we are funding public Universities, literally they are moving our institutions to other nations to educate...other nation's populations? To enhance other nations advancements?  To educate other populations while highly qualified Americans are having their careers labor arbitraged?  

What about my fellow Americans? What about my country?

Obviously House Science Chair Bart Gordon is wondering the same thing!

...having a STEM degree, even from a top school, no longer guarantees lifelong employment in a well-paying job in the United States

United States decline in total IT job opportunities Bonddad

The House Science Committee held a hearing today titled The Globalization of R&D and Innovation, Pt. II: The University Response to look into this very topic.

As an increasing number of American universities establish campuses in foreign countries, many questions and concerns are arising about the impacts this will have on American students, job opportunities, and competitiveness

Here is a frightening statement from Subcommittee Chair Brian Baird:

we know very little about how university globalization will impact America’s competitiveness

Seemingly Chairman Bart Gordon is on the case:

I also am curious to learn more about international programs being established by American universities to educate foreign students in their home countries.

Hearing Charter

What factors lead universities to establish branch campuses overseas and how widespread is this trend? What are the benefits and costs of this trend to the U.S. national interest in maintaining an edge in international economic competitiveness - and to overall U.S. national interests?

Experts predict that the number of foreign campuses and degree programs operated by American universities will increase significantly in the near future. The goals of these operations include increasing revenue, enhancing prestige, serving rapidly growing demand from China and India, and enhancing study abroad opportunities for U.S. students. The World Bank estimates that 150 of the 700 foreign degree programs in China are from American universities.

While there are no definitive counts of foreign campuses and programs established by American universities, experts believe that more universities, particularly high-prestige ones, are venturing abroad.

McDonaldization or Higher Education for Sale is a little known movement, justified by the CEO generated report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm.

Here are the three questions presented by the committee to witnesses:    
Dr. David Skorton, Cornell University
Dr. Philip Altbach, Boston College
Dr. Gary Schuster, Georgia Institute of Technology
Mr. Mark Wessel, Carnegie Mellon University

  1. What was the general motivation for your institution to establish branch campuses overseas? What factors did you consider in making the decision to expand overseas, especially in terms of locations, costs, staffing, and the impact on the home campus?
  1. What do you anticipate the effects of these overseas branch campus programs will be on the overall global science and technology enterprise, especially in terms of jobs available to your home and branch campus graduates? What sorts of data and information are you collecting to determine if the effects are matching your original goals?
  1. How are you adjusting your home campus science and engineering to better respond to the increasingly globalized economy?

Here are some of the answers:


Regarding the second question, let me say that it is not yet clear what the effects of branch campuses will be on the global science and technology enterprise.

Mark G. Wessel:

The difference today is that the institutions that are these researchers’ and students’ homes are deeply engaged in the process of globalizing as institutions

Dr. Gary Schuster:

They benefit the state of Georgia directly by serving as conduits for international economic development relationships

While Dr. Schuster specifically addressed the questions raised as well as pointed out that no taxpayer money was being used by campuses in other nations, where is the proof that educating other nation's talent in their countries results in international economic development which benefits the United States?  Only a few sentences later Schuster states:

they (Universities campuses in foreign nations) are not technically "branch" campuses in the financial sense, because they will have no financial impact on the home campus


Philip G. Altbach:

Since universities have always figured in the global environment, they have been affected by circumstances beyond the campus and across national borders.

Oh really?  Universities were never designed to benefit the nations that supported them and now, like multinational corporations, are borderless?

Altbach goes further:

Currently, a debate is under way concerning the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). Multinational corporations and some government agencies in the rich countries are seeking to integrate higher education into the legal structures of world trade through the WTO.

Great, now they want to literally trade universities degrees, students, researchers and professors in the the great commodities market via the WTO.  Is it really in the United States national economic interest to trade educational opportunities?

Get's worse, they are selling degrees:

In another export model, foreign academic degree programs are "franchised" by local institutions.

So, where in this discussion are the Americans, investing in America, educating Americans, advancing American interests?
Frankly, I couldn't find a sentence about U.S. students in these witness testimony statements.

So, while Kerry spouted off about Benedict Arnold CEOs in 2004, do we now have Benedict Arnold Universities in 2007?

Originally posted to BobOak on Thu Jul 26, 2007 at 02:53 PM PDT.


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