Full Committee Hearing - The Globalization of R&D and Innovation, Part II: The University Response
Dr. David J. Skorton
President of Cornell University
Dr. Gary Schuster
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs of Georgia Institute of Technology
Mr. Mark Wessel
Dean of the H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University
Dr. Philip Altbach
Director of the Center for International Higher Education and the J. Donald Monan SJ Professor of Higher Education at Boston College
COMMITTEE TOLD THAT GLOBALIZATION OF AMERICAN UNIVERSITIES BENEFITS U.S.
WASHINGTON D.C., July 26, 2007 – Today, a panel of expert witnesses from academia unanimously agreed that the internationalization of American universities benefits the U.S. by promoting innovation through a collaborative effort with foreign countries.
“Scores of universities are now looking overseas for opportunities to expand,” said Ranking Member Ralph Hall (R-TX). “Many have partnered with foreign universities to offer joint programs and degrees while others have opened new branches complete with classrooms, laboratory space, and dormitories. Some universities offer a limited curriculum overseas and require students to complete their training in the U.S. while others offer complete degree programs abroad. This wide range of models makes it difficult to confidently predict how the globalization of higher education may affect U.S. institutions and the U.S. economy overall.”
While Committee Members had different ideas about how educating foreign students at American universities will affect the economy and American competitiveness, witnesses all agreed that the benefits of teaching and research abroad will spur overall macro-economic growth.
In his prepared testimony, Dr. David Skorton, President of Cornell University, promoted both attracting the brightest students and faculty to American universities, while also increasing investments in research and teaching abroad. When asked whether these two goals are mutually exclusive, Dr. Skorton adamantly claimed that “We accrue the greatest benefit, in this country, of international collaboration.”
Further supporting this claim, Dr. Skorton said that “International scientific and professional meetings provide opportunities for scholarly exchange and networking [that] help advance knowledge and provide learning opportunities for American students and faculty members as well as for their colleagues from other nations.”
Dr. Gary Schuster, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Georgia Institute of Technology, agreed that the U.S. will reap benefits of having academic programs overseas. He said that “As developing nations establish world-class universities and research programs, breakthrough discoveries will occur in many locations around the world, rather than being concentrated in the United States and other developed nations.”
Schuster continued, “Georgia Tech’s goal is to be present in those other locations – to be a partner and collaborator in discoveries that happen in other places, so that we here in the United States can leverage and benefit from the discoveries of others, just as others have and will leverage and benefit from discoveries made in the United States.”
As part of its strategic plan to increase its global footprint, the Carnegie-Mellon University has established programs in Greece, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Australia and India. Mr. Mark Wessel, Dean of the H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University, said that establishing academic programs abroad is critical to American competitiveness.
“The globalization of R&D and innovation is critical to the future, not just of our institutions, but for the economic success of the United States,” Wessel said. “[U]ltimately we must find ways to share information about our many individual experiments and gain a collective understanding on how to capitalize effectively on the opportunity globalization provides to enhance our capability to achieve our core mission – the advancement of knowledge and the training of citizens for productive roles in society.”
While today’s witnesses painted a very bright picture of how globalization of American universities will benefit the U.S., Rep. Dana Rhorabacher (R-CA), pointed out that there are potentially negative consequences also. He said that foreign students can receive specialized education in the U.S., only to return to their native country and possibly use that knowledge against us.
Also testifying at today’s hearing was Dr. Philip Altbach, Director of the Center for International Higher Education and the J. Donald Monan SJ Professor of Higher Education at Boston College.