All entries for Tuesday 28 May 2013

May 28, 2013

We Have The Means To Change The World For The Better

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/business/gus

Image. A sculpture commemorating the life of one of the scientists who discovered the double helix structure of DNA.
A blog post by Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz FRS, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge

Although any individual and organisation might change the world, universities are positively expected to do so. Through our teaching we change individual lives as a matter of routine; through our research, time after time, we change the way the world works.

Not only that, but we change it, consistently, for the better. 'To contribute to society' is not only part of a formal mission statement (of my university and many others), but it resonates in the daily activities of our staff and students.

Universities are rightly regarded as critical national assets. Governments the world over see them as vital sources of new knowledge and innovative thinking, as providers of skilled personnel and credible credentials, as critical friends and auditors of policies, as attractors of international talent and business investment, as agents of social justice and mobility, and as contributors to social and cultural vitality. We store knowledge and pass it from one generation to another, we are part of the civic establishment, and we are national and regional symbols. No other sort of organisation has such an astonishing remit, and no other sort of organization delivers such indispensable benefits to society.

How on earth to we manage all this? I offer three answers. Firstly, we integrate knowledge. Universities' disciplinary scope is, naturally enough, universal. Within the creative diversity of a university community, we can support scholars working across the disciplinary spectrum: those who work alone in libraries and with databases, deepening their, and our, understanding of a focused topic; and those who work in teams in laboratories and in the field. Their work would be of immense value on its own, but as integrative institutions we can also make connections between them, making the whole genuinely greater than the sum of the parts and marshalling expertise to address problems bigger than any single scholar's or research group’s capacity.

Secondly, we cleave to autonomy. The single greatest inhibitor of transformative excellence is excessive direction of ideas. We create autonomy within our institutions, and defend our institutional autonomy in wider society. The greatest biological discovery of the twentieth century was made in a physics laboratory: it is wholly imaginable that Crick and Watson’s collaboration might have been derailed by overzealous tidiness in internal structures and a line-management direction of research. (I am pleased that Cambridge is rarely accused of either!) Externally, we loudly and rightly assert our independence from governments and from other funders, including industry.

And thirdly, we are constantly relevant, both adapting to the society which we serve, and shaping it. Creating economic growth at home, and addressing poverty and hunger in developing countries, are among the pressing urgencies facing global society, and universities like mine are quick, and keen, to respond: we have both the capacity and the will to do so, in ways that are creative, productive, and surprising. The world does not look to its universities for predictable tweaks and short-term fixes, but for challenging, ground-breaking, world-bridging innovation.

It is a matter of fierce pride to all of us who work in universities that with astonishing frequency - though not regularity or predictability - we contribute ideas, technologies, and concepts that shatter preconceptions and change the world for the better.

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

Image: A sculpture commemorating the life of one of the scientists who discovered the double helix structure of DNA. As students at Cambridge, Francis Crick, who was born in Weston Favell, Northampton and American James Watson both unlocked the key of life in 1953. The scientists, along with Maurice Wilkins, were awarded a Nobel Prize in 1962 for their work on DNA. The steel sculpture called Discovery is installed in Abington Street, Northampton. Source: (Flickr)

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Image. Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz University of Cambridge. In 2010, Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz became the 345th Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge having previously been Chief Executive of the UK's Medical Research Council from 2007 and Principal of the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College London. Professor Borysiewicz was knighted in the 2001 New Year's Honours List for his contribution to medical education and research into developing vaccines.





No To Generation Jobless: Ensuring Our Kids Have A Future

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/business/gus

Image. Greek riots - protester stands in front of cloud of smoke.

A blog post by Dr Nemat Shafik, Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Updated 31 May 2013

Financial markets have staged an impressive recovery in recent months. Thanks to the actions of policymakers, the global economy no longer looks quite as treacherous as it did six months ago. But in many parts of the world, there is no sense that the crisis is over. In far too many countries, improvements in financial markets have not translated into improvements in the real economy—and in the lives of people. More than 200 million people are out of work today. Many of these are young people. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), 73 million young people globally are looking for a job.

The result, according to The Economist, is an “arc of unemployment”, stretching from Southern Europe through North Africa and the Middle East to South Asia. In Spain, Greece, and Portugal, 40-55 per cent of all young people cannot find jobs. In the Middle East, youth unemployment is expected to reach 30 per cent. The picture in North Africa is almost as bleak, with youth unemployment at more than 23 per cent.

Youth unemployment has long-term consequences for economic growth because of the loss or degradation of human capital. It has been found to leave a “wage scar” in the form of lower earnings that can last into middle age, and has been linked to lower life expectancy and higher crime rates. Youth unemployment also has a corrosive effect on society itself—one that becomes very difficult to redress as time goes by. As the ILO noted in its most recent report, “Perhaps the most important scarring is in terms of the current youth generation’s distrust in the socioeconomic and political systems.”

The most effective way to create jobs is through growth. Policies to re-launch growth must therefore be given priority. But policymakers can also deploy labour market policies to spur job creation more directly. Options include education and training programmes, hiring and wage subsidies, public works programmes, child care subsidies, and lower taxes on labour.

In terms of near-term prospects, the outlook for growth is mixed at best. Even though global growth is showing signs of strengthening, the IMF does not expect it to be much higher this year than last year. Our latest forecast projects 3.3 per cent growth in 2013, and four per cent in 2014.

We have been advising our member countries to address three overarching issues that have been with us since the beginning of the crisis. They include financial sector reform; more balanced global demand; and more emphasis on growth, jobs, and equity.

But even if we assume that policymakers do all the right things, it will take years before growth will be enough to make significant inroads into youth unemployment. So governments need to think outside the box. This is where labour market and education policies come into play. Here, however, what may have worked five years ago may no longer work today because of the fast-changing nature of the work place.

Technology is profoundly transforming the nature of work, as argued by New York Times columnist Tom Friedman. It used to be that 85 per cent was just showing up. Now, he says, “average is over.” Everyone has to bring something extra—their own unique contribution to the value chain. Jobs are constantly re-engineered, and innovation has become a survival skill.

Is more education the answer? Across the OECD, people who left school at the earliest opportunity are twice as likely to be unemployed as university graduates. But it is also true that many people with expensive liberal-arts degrees are finding it impossible to get decent jobs, writes The Economist. In North Africa, university graduates are twice as likely to be unemployed as non-graduates.

There is also the issue of cost to consider. Will people still be willing to pay $500,000 for a degree from Harvard or Stanford? Or will more young people opt for online certificates costing $500 from course providers that provide qualifications in many different areas? Will the model of three to four years of university be replaced by true lifelong learning delivered in a more tailored way to support careers that evolve over a lifetime?

While young people in advanced countries grapple with the high cost of higher education, their counterparts in developing countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, face much more basic challenges. Many young people in these countries leave school poorly educated, and enter the world of work without the knowledge, skills, or behaviors necessary to adapt to changes in the economy and their lives.

Clearly, the challenges are enormous. The future of millions of young people around the world is at stake. To solve the problems of youth unemployment, restoring global growth is crucial, as are policies to support job creation. None of this can be achieved without global cooperation. We at the IMF, with our 188 member countries, will do all we can to restore global growth.

But rethinking education is also an important part of the answer. You, the educators, can play a crucial role in charting a path out of the crisis for youth. But you, too, will need to rethink how you carry out your mandate. The world’s young people do not just need more education—they need education relevant to a very different labour market and world economy than we have ever faced before."

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

Image:Greek Riots, 2008 Source: (Flickr)

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Image. Dr Nemat Shafik IMFNemat Shafik assumed the position of Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund on April 11, 2011.

A national of Egypt, the UK, and the USA , Dr Shafik is a global citizen with a global reputation in fields ranging from emerging markets, international development, the Middle East and Africa, to the financial sector. She brings to the IMF a wealth of experience in policy-making, management, and academia.




Applicable to the real world: the future of research

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/business/gus

Image. WMG Robotics - students at the University of Warwick
An interview with Dr Richard Hutchins, Director of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG)


If the future of the higher education is virtual (as every blog and newspaper article about MOOCs would have you believe), does the success of WMG (using the Fraunhofer model) contradict this?

I’m not entirely convinced that going ‘totally virtual’ is the way forward, because there are huge advantages to companies, academics and students working side-by-side and sparking off each other. Secondly the fact that for this type of industrial research, where we work with companies in the manufacturing and advanced engineering sector, it inevitably requires people to have access to physical kit and technology. So I think there is a strong case to co-locate facilities that allow for all of those things to happen.

How would you asses the current state of the UK’s higher education sector’s relationships with business (and therefore economic growth) compared to the rest of the world?

I don’t think there is any doubt that the UK is right up there when it comes to higher education collaboration with industry. It’s the only way to go because we cannot rely on the government, public sector and the public purse to fund higher education research and teaching in the future in the way that it has done in the past. So we have to make our research and our teaching more applicable to the real world; the only way to do that is to connect it to the market place, which is working with industry and working with countries. All of the countries that are shooting up in terms of economic growth clearly connect universities with business or connect business with universities. China, most notably, where companies effectively sponsor universities and the development of universities. We see a number of collaborations of that type in Beijing.

The University of Warwick is hosting the 2013 Global University Summit this week (w/c 27 May 2013), which will issue a formal declaration on higher education to the G8. If you could get one commitment from the summit of world leaders related to higher education that would benefit the sector, what would that be?

We need to be promoting the freer exchange of students and knowledge across international boundaries. When it comes down to things like that, it means student visas; it means free exchange of intellectual property. Not all easy things to do but things which will undoubtedly help to unlock economic growth in all nations.

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

Image: WMG Robot Team, April 2013. Source: (University of Warwick)

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Image. Dr Richard Hutchins WMGDr Richard Hutchins is responsible for leading WMG's interface and work with Jaguar Land Rover, including support for JLR's Government Affairs and Government Programmes teams. Leading the development of the WMG Academy for Young Engineers. Leading our work with Local Enterprise Partnerships. He is a non-executive director of WMMC (Manufacturing Advisory Service).



Universities driving economic growth

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/business/gus

Image. Students in the Wolfson Research Exchange, University of Warwick

A blog post by Dirk Van Damme, Head of the Innovation and Measuring Progress division, OECD

In most OECD countries economic growth is now driven to a higher degree by intangible assets than by traditional capital such as machinery or equipment. Knowledge, data, patents, and human capital are the new sources of growth. And innovation in these intellectual assets will spur growth to take off again. The quantity and quality of intellectual innovation will not only determine when and how countries will find the way out of the recession, but also the post-recession new global economic order.

As key players in the knowledge chain, universities constitute the main institutional framework for the creation of intellectual capital. Either they can foster and accelerate knowledge-based growth or they can hamper it. Because they mainly are situated upstream in the knowledge creation process, compared to firms and businesses themselves, they act as gatekeepers: either economic growth is nurtured by a large flow of innovative knowledge and human capital, or the economy and society at large only reap a weak stream of mediocre knowledge and competences. Universities achieve this mission in basically two ways: by conducting cutting edge research – which is added to the knowledge base of the global scientific system and transformed into applicable knowledge with industry and by educating knowledge workers with the right skills sets which can drive innovation and productivity increases.

With regard to human capital development, the second function, over the past couple of decades universities in OECD countries have been able to cope with an increasing demand, driven by a social mobility aspiration in the population, and to deliver an ever increasing number of graduates to the labour market. Given the production time of high-level skills and all kinds of institutional hindrances or social expectations, it is of course impossible for universities to exactly follow the economic conjuncture and the specificities of the skills demand. Overall however, data on graduate employment, earnings premiums and returns on educational investment show that fears for exaggerated massification and over-schooling are not confirmed.

In delivering the human capital the knowledge economy needs, universities are massively contributing to the creation of wealth. Between 2000 and 2010 more than half of GDP growth in OECD countries was related to labour income growth among higher-educated individuals. The returns to society and the public purse over the lifetime of a graduate are many times greater than the upfront investment in educating that individual.

Still, the main challenge for universities regarding human capital development is whether they are educating for the kind of skills the innovation economy of the twenty-first century needs. Short-term skill mismatches – with graduate unemployment at a time where employers have unfilled vacancies – are symptomatic. But even more important is the question of whether universities are not conservatively following the old, conventional ways in which human knowledge is codified and professions are organised, rather than to radically choose for the skills which foster innovation in the twenty-first century.

With regard to the knowledge creation function through research, the first function, a lot of data underlines the critical importance of investing in high-level research in order to drive innovation in the economy. However, the challenge seems not to be to maintain high absolute levels of research investment, but to improve research efficiency, i.e. the relationship between research input and output. Many of the innovative economies in the OECD are not the absolute centres of academic excellence, but seem to have improved their research efficiency. World-class universities – those in the top 20 of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings – combine extremely high research investments with high outputs. But the dynamic sub-top of universities, often to be found in emerging countries in the global science system, combine much lower investments with equally high outputs. These countries are not (yet) the BRICs, but are to be found in the immediate neighbourhood: Switzerland, Benelux, France and Scandinavian countries.

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

Image: Students in the Wolfson Research Exchange. Source: (University of Warwick)

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Image. Dirk Van Damme, OECDDirk Van Damme currently is Head of the Innovation and Measuring Progress Division (IMEP) in the Directorate for Education at the OECD in Paris. He holds a PhD in educational sciences from Ghent University and is also professor of educational sciences in the same university (since 1995). He also was part-time professor in comparative education at the Free University of Brussels (1997-2000) and visiting professor of comparative education at Seton Hall University, NJ, USA (2001-2008). He was general director of the Flemish Rectors’ Conference, the main advisory body for higher education policy in the Flemish part of Belgium between 2000 and 2003. He has been professionally involved in educational policy development between 1992 and 2008, and served as chief of staff of Mr Frank Vandenbroucke, Flemish minister of education between 2004 and 2008. His current interests are evidence-based innovation in education, comparative analyses of educational systems, new developments in the learning sciences and knowledge management in education. At the OECD he is responsible for the Innovation and Measuring Progress Division, covering both the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) and the Indicators of Educational Systems (INES) programme.


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