Principal calls for even playing field in HE

Wednesday 19 June 2002

The Principal of Scotland’s leading University has called for a more even playing field in higher education across the world, at a major conference in Washington DC.

In an address on the globalisation of Higher Education to the World Bank last night (Wednesday 19th June, 2002), Dr Brian Lang, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of St Andrews, explained why the gap between the World’s richest and poorest Universities must be closed.

He highlighted the disturbing implications arising from the dominance of universities in richer countries, over higher education in the rest of the world, and offered solutions for the prevention of such dominance. One of the recommendations he made is the twinning of Universities in less developed economies to those in richer countries.

“Fundamentally, if we are to close the higher education gap between the richer and poorer countries, then the first thing we have to do is stop the gap from getting any bigger. To close the gap, we need to bring people and institutions much closer together. Universities in the richer countries need to become less dependent on revenue earning and more dedicated to the sharing of knowledge and expertise for their own sakes. More basically, the universities in the poorer countries need to be more adequately funded so that world- class researchers and teachers can be attracted and retained.

“Higher education is now a substantial global business. Universities have begun to explore the benefits to them, of the quasi- commercialisation of their ideas and innovations. The traditional scholarly values of freely shared knowledge are in danger of being compromised. But most important of all, in my view, is the need to prevent any negative effect on the development of world class universities in the poorer countries. If the richer countries are to be prevented from monopolising higher education research and teaching, and the poorer countries are to be given the opportunities they need, to develop more good universities, then what is to be done?” said Dr Lang.

Dr Lang’s talk, ‘Higher Education And Internationalisation: Some Lessons From A Small Country’, was given at the World Bank Group’s 3rd Annual Conference. Dr Lang was a keynote speaker at the event, at the invitation of Gerard Rice, fellow Scot and Director of Internal Communications of the World Bank.

In addition to the general implications of the process of globalisation and internationalisation in higher education, Dr Lang discussed the increase of Universities operating on an international basis, through international staff and student recruitment, exchange programmes, research collaborations, and research funding.

He also discussed the challenges faced by Universities, particularly in the UK, in raising funds through the Government’s funding councils, tuition fees and research grants, and the role of Scotland’s Universities on the world stage.

“For a small country on the edge of Western Europe, the ability to interact with international partners and participate in the world economy is critical. Quite apart from the economic desirability of trading on the world market, we want to be confident that Scotland, and Scots, are making a difference for the better, no matter where in the world they might be active,” he said.

“Universities when they work best, still tend to do so on the basis of a community of students and scholars. Academics usually work best through stimulating one another, provoking one another through open-minded exchange of views, ideas and inventions. We need to stimulate more discussion about how to ensure academics throughout the world, no matter their social and economic backgrounds, can operate on a much more level playing field.”





Issued by Beattie Media On behalf of the University of St Andrews Contact Gayle Cook on 01334 467227, mobile 07900 050103, or email [email protected] Ref: BL World Bank speech pr 200602 View the latest University news at

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