|Phil Baty, editor of Times Higher Education BRICS and Emerging Economies Rankings 2014.(Photo provided to People's Daily Online)|
Supporting national key universities to become world leading universities before others is acceptable for the purpose of achieving a balanced development in higher education in BRICS and emerging countries. Times Higher Education’s Editor Phil Baty told People’s Daily Online.
Baty believes China should keep providing a generous funding to leading institutions and encourage other universities to concentrate on national or local priorities.
The following is the excerpt of People's Daily Online's written interview with Phil Baty after the ranking was released on Dec. 5.
PD Online: How do you see the development in higher education of BRICS countries?
Phil Baty: China is very much ahead of the other BRICS when it comes to developing world class universities. It prioritised support for leading universities back in the 1990s and it is now seeing the benefits of that support, with two world top 50 universities and more top 100 universities than any other country in this new BRICS & Emerging Economies Rankings.
India is the next strongest - it has an elite group of specialist institutions, the Indian Institutes of Technology, which do well, but it has perhaps been so heavily focussed on meeting the extremely high demand for additional university places that it has allowed quality to suffer. Student numbers have exploded, but quality has not been maintained.
There are now moves in India to drive up quality, and to improve the research infrastructure and to distribute research funding on a more competitive basis. These are positive things. Brazil has many pockets of research excellence which is very encouraging, but Brazil has perhaps been slowest to globalise. The low take-up of English in Brazil is still an issue. Russia has had a problem with 'brain drain' but it is now working to try to attract leading talent back to Russia with reforms.
PD Online: What should be those emerging countries including China put on the top of higher education agenda?
Phil Baty: China perhaps provides a model for the other BRICS countries in terms of focussed, generous funding to a selected group of leading institutions, backed by a strong campaign to attract international talent. Perhaps the final steps holding China back from true greatness in higher education are more autonomy for its universities, to allow them to be more flexible and dynamic in a global market, and further pedagogic reform, to encourage more creativity among the next generation of great scholars.
PD Online: How do you see the imbalanced development of higher education of emerging economies?
Phil Baty: I think it is perfectly acceptable to have a highly diversified higher education system - this allows the development of a smaller number of leading research institutions to compete on the global stage and to truly push the boundaries of knowledge and to lead the innovation and knowledge economy, while other universities concentrate on national or local priorities, with more emphasis on teaching and providing a skilled workforce. This diversity of mission allows resources to be carefully targeted and is the direction many countries, including the UK and US, have gone in.