Hybrid approach needed for global academic collaboration

Professor Simon Marginson and Professor Marijk van der Wende discuss the implications of geopolitical changes in the east and the west for higher education and research.

They point out that recent geopolitical events in the west (e.g. Brexit and the rejection of multilateral trade and cooperation by the US) create waves of uncertainty in higher education regarding international cooperation. The free movement of students, academics, scientific knowledge and ideas is under threat.

Meanwhile, China actively seeks to cooperate with academic partners along the Silk Road and has the potential to become a global leader in higher education. Professor Marginson and Professor van der Wende highlight the fact that the speed at which China’s higher education and research and development systems develop will have a global impact.

They argue that if global collaboration is to be taken forward among scholars, the time of separated ‘mono-national’ and ‘mono-cultural’ views has passed. What is needed instead is a combined/integrated analytical framework.

Two of CGHE’s research projects will enable the development of a such a synthesis. In projects investigating the public good role of higher education, multi-country teams will study higher education from different vantage points – looking at each other’s systems, and their own through someone else’s eyes. The research will explore the potential for a hybrid approach, based on key common concepts and ‘unity in diversity’.

Professor Simon Marginson is CGHE Director and Professor of International Higher Education at the UCL Institute of Education, University College London. Professor Marijk van der Wende is a Distinguished Faculty Professor at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands whose Professorial Chair is in Higher Education Systems.