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The Globalization of R&D and Innovation, Part 2

Thursday, July 26, 2007 - 12:00am
Washington, DC
The University Response

Opening Statement By Chairman Brian Baird (Research and Science Education)

I want to welcome everyone to this morning’s hearing on the globalization of American universities and its impact on national competitiveness. I want to offer welcomes to our distinguished witnesses – all leaders and experts on the emerging trend of university globalization.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts on the globalization of universities and its implications for America’s competitiveness.

Corporations have been globalizing for decades. And we know its effects on U.S. competitiveness are complex, including positives such as lower prices for consumers as well as negatives such as job and wage loss for some American workers. But we know very little about how university globalization will impact America’s competitiveness.

America’s higher education system is a principal source of America’s pre-eminence in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. The Economist reports that U.S. higher education is the best in the world, home to seventeen of the top twenty universities and 70 percent of the world’s Nobel prize-winners. The National Science Board reports that American academics produce 30 percent of the world’s science and engineering articles.

But offshoring is re-shaping how and where STEM work is done. As a result, international competition has shifted increasingly to the individual worker level. Multi-national companies are responding to international competition by using more workers in lower-cost countries. Those companies’ American workforce now competes against workers in low cost countries like China and India.

American workers must respond by either increasing their productivity or lowering their wages. Obviously, the only acceptable solution is for our workers to increase their productivity. But this is becoming more difficult as a larger share of jobs become vulnerable to offshoring. And many of our workers’ traditional advantages - better infrastructure, better tools and technologies, and proximity to the largest consumer market - are being eroded. Therefore, our higher education system will become an even more critical factor in helping American workers differentiate themselves from workers in low cost countries.

At the same time American universities are beginning to globalize in new ways. With many more jobs requiring international work teams, universities are preparing their STEM students by providing more international experience through study abroad and other cross-border collaborations. And universities are modifying their STEM curricula to better prepare their students for the jobs that will stay in America.

In some respects American universities have been global for many years. They have attracted large numbers of foreign students, particularly in STEM fields at the graduate level. But offshoring is giving high quality foreign students outstanding job opportunities in their home countries. This may make it less likely that foreign students will stay in the U.S. after graduation, and may make it less desirable to come to the U.S. to study in the first place. So, American universities are taking their education to foreign students by building campuses and offering STEM degree programs in other countries.

We look forward to hearing what our witnesses have to say about the trends, motivations, and consequences of the globalization of universities on the U.S. science and engineering enterprise, its workforce, and America’s competitiveness.

Opening Statement By Chairman Bart Gordon

I would like to thank the witnesses for appearing at today’s important hearing on the university response to the globalization of R&D.

The Science and Technology Committee has been a leader in creating policies that strengthen science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education in the United States. The institutions represented on this panel are key contributors to our country’s preeminent STEM education enterprise.

However, as they know all too well, having a STEM degree, even from a top school, no longer guarantees lifelong employment in a well-paying job in the United States. Our students are increasingly competing with well-trained, low cost employees in countries such as India and China.

Universities are our first line of defense in ensuring our leadership in the global economy by giving our scientists and engineers the special skills they need to set themselves apart from the global competition. I am eager to hear about the new efforts you are undertaking to prepare students for the 21st century economy.

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

While opportunities for international exchange are a key part of improving curriculum, I am eager to hear what the motivations were for your universities to establish campuses offshore, what sorts of opportunities and challenges you are now facing, and what effects you anticipate in the years to come.



1 - Dr. David Skorton
President Cornell University Cornell University
Download the Witness Testimony

4 - Dr. Philip Altbach
Director, Center for International Higher Education Boston College Boston College
Download the Witness Testimony

2 - Dr. Gary Schuster
Provost Georgia Institute of Technology Georgia Institute of Technology
Download the Witness Testimony

3 - Mr. Mark Wessel
Dean, Heinz School of Public Policy and Management Carnegie Mellon University Carnegie Mellon University
Download the Witness Testimony

Witness Panel
Dr. Skorton makes his statement to the Committee
Dr. Skorton
Dr. Schuster testifies before the full Committee
Dr. Schuster
Mr. Wessel testifies before the Committee
Mr. Wessel
Dr. Altbach makes his statement to the Committee
Dr. Altbach
For information on the witnesses, use the links at left
110th Congress