Speakers

Keynote Speakers

Professor Susan L. ROBERTSON

Professor, Sociology of Education
Director, Centre for Globalisation, Education and Societies
Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol

Title:
A Global Revolution Ahead for Higher Education? On Navigating Between Fact-Facing, Myth-Making and Risk-Taking
Abstract:
In March 2013, Sir Michael Barber – chief education advisor at Pearson – and colleagues, released an influential report on the future of global higher education. The Report, provocatively titled “An Avalanche is Coming: Higher Education and the Revolution Ahead”, argued that current developments in the global economy, together with new initiatives within the sector – such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), mega-journals, and for-profit provision, posed challenges of such importance to higher education institutions, that immediate responses were necessary. In this lecture I examine the putative scale, shape and direction of these revolutionary developments, and ask: how much of this is a matter of facing the facts, how much is myth-making, and what are the risks of ignoring them? I’ll be arguing that properly diagnosing and assessing these developments, including the nature of the interests involved, is important to secure the sector’s historic mission: that of advancing the frontiers of knowledge whilst creating innovative spaces for learning.
Biography:
Susan Robertson has been Professor of Sociology of Education at the Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol since 1999.

Her great passion is researching and writing about the political economy of the education sector – from the global to the regional, local and individual. Susan’s approach to researching education has been formed out of working as an academic in different parts of the world, including Australia, Canada and New Zealand and the UK.

Her research focuses on the political nature of education in societies, especially on the ways in which the education sector is deeply implicated in the re/production of social selves and social relations. The societal and political contexts for her research on education are broad in that she is particularly interested in understanding how education is the object and outcome of converging and diverging policies and practices around the globe.

As founding Director of the Centre for Globalisation, Education and Societies at the University of Bristol, and founding co-editor of the journal, Globalisation, Societies and Education, Susan enjoys the challenges involved in developing a critical agenda for the study of globalisation and education. She also works closely with colleagues around many of these issues, including a blog GlobalHigherEd which keeps us briefed on developments in that sector.

For more information, please see http://susanleerobertson.com/cv/

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Professor Jan CURRIE

Emeritus Professor
School of Education, Murdoch University

Title:
Global Trends and Universities: Rankings, International Students and MOOCs
Abstract:
Despite the global financial crisis of 2008 and the need to regulate markets, the neoliberal agenda of globalization persists as a powerful force in reforming higher education worldwide. Countries across the globe continue to re-engineer their universities to try to compete in the international league tables. They strive to be “world class” even though the top 100 universities are dominated by the USA and the UK. New interactive web technology is creating a global marketplace where courses from numerous universities are available on a single website. The “massive open online courses” (MOOCs) are making this global marketplace even more competitive. Most ranking systems are heavily biased towards research publications and limit the chances for universities that focus on teaching to compete. Recently there has been a move to assess teaching in a more rigorous manner. One of the major organizations that influences higher education policy trends is the OECD. It wants to measure and compare student learning outcomes across universities worldwide. As universities are increasingly competing for the “best and the brightest” students from around the globe, the assessment of their teaching will influence the movement of international students as they search the web for the highest ranking universities. All these trends are occurring at a time when the neoliberal agenda reduces public spending for universities, making it more difficult for them to be competitive in world rankings. Which universities will be the winners and losers in this global competition? What unintended consequences are virtual universities likely to have on the higher education landscape in the future?
Biography:
Jan Currie is Emeritus Professor in the School of Education, Murdoch University. She has written extensively on globalization and its impact on higher education and on the gendered nature of universities. She coedited Universities and Globalization (Sage, 1998) and co-authored Gendered Universities in Globalized Economies (Lexington, 2002); Globalizing Practices and University Responses (Praeger, 2003); and Academic Freedom in Hong Kong (Lexington, 2006). Her most recent publications include chapters and articles on gendered universities and the wage gap, governance and trust in universities, world class universities and league tables, and accountability in universities.

For more information, please see
http://profiles.murdoch.edu.au/myprofile/jan-currie/

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Professor Rui YANG

Faculty of Education, The University of Hong Kong

Title:
Western Practicality Fused with Confucian Virtues: How Far Can It Take East Asia’s Higher Education?
Abstract:
East Asian universities have recently made tremendous strides in terms of the volume and quality of research output. Some are poised at the most exciting phase of their development, leaping ahead to join the distinguished league of the world’s leading universities. However, the concept of world-class university is still defined by the strongest American and British universities. Many obstacles remain to develop world-class universities in East Asia. Confined to what is allowed by the deeply rooted ti-yong formula featured by the practicality of Western science fused with the virtues of Confucian moralism, the idea that the Western university model could work well on Confucian soil has long been mistakenly taken for granted. Higher education in East Asia has been fundamentally operated within their traditional modes of thinking, while the Western concept of a university has been taken for its usefulness. Such a stiff mix has rarely been questioned thoughtfully. Few in the region have theorised how their universities differ from their Western peers, although the different cultural roots and heritages have led to continuous conflicts between their Confucian traditions and the imposed Western values. Adopting a perspective that gives weight to the impact of traditional mode of cultural thinking on contemporary higher education development, this paper assess the possibility of an alternative to the presently dominant Western model by exploring how East Asian experience of establishing world-class universities could contribute to the betterment of the ‘Idea of a University.
Biography:
Rui Yang is Professor and Assistant Dean (Research Projects and Centres), Faculty of Education, The University of Hong Kong. He has worked in different higher education systems, with particular interest in crossculturalism in education policy, higher education, and sociology of education. After nearly a decade of teaching and research at Shantou University in Guangdong, he received a Ph.D. from the University of Sydney in 2001. He has then taught and researched at Universities of Western Australia, Monash and Hong Kong. He has written extensively in the field of comparative and international education. His current interest is focused on comparative and global studies in education policy and higher education internationalization. 

Rui Yang has focused his research on issues of internationalization in China’s higher education since the late 1980s and thus is able to probe this issue at a profound historical and philosophical level. His work on internationalization of the Chinese higher education shows how differently internationalization is experienced by countries which adopted Western models of the university in processes of self-strengthening or indeed colonization and had little time or opportunity to incorporate into them elements of their own rich indigenous traditions of higher learning. It is a totally different situation from that experienced by universities in major Western countries whose models held unquestioned global dominance throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

For more information, please see
http://web.edu.hku.hk/academic_staff.php?staffId=yangrui

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