Volume 1 Issue 1

The Achievement, Limitation and Potential of Chinese Universities in STEM Fields: A Generational Perspective by Shen Wenqin Introduction: Generational Differences and Higher Education   In the past four decades, Chinese universities have developed rapidly and their international rankings have been continuously improving, which has attracted great attention from the international academic community. There are many explanations for the rapid progress of Chinese universities, such as growing investment in scientific research, the Confucian cultural model (Marginson, 2011), national/global synergy (Marginson, 2018) and large-scale international academic mobility (Shen, 2020), etc. However, scholars also raised concern that the achievements of Chinese universities in the past 40 years can be viewed as limited. For example, in 2005, Qian Xuesen, Father of China’s Missile and Space Program, told Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao that Chinese universities are unsuccessful in cultivating creative talents (Cao, 2014). Qian observed that none of the academic achievements by China’s post-1949 graduates could be compared with those of their counterparts in the Republican era.… Read more
PhD Inflation and the Lack of PhDs in Higher Education in Post-Civil War Cambodia by Theara Thun Post-civil war Cambodia (1991-present) has experienced a period of rapid expansion in higher education in the aftermath of the deconstruction of the Khmer Rouge regime (1975-979) and the civil war of the 1980s. Over the past thirty years, institutional expansion, increase in student enrollment, and growth in private provisions and fee-based enrollment (Williams at al., 2014) have developed rapidly, notwithstanding the country’s existing flawed system and serious lack of human resources. With just eight public higher education institutions in 1997, the number increased to 125 in 2018, of which 77 were private institutions (MoEYS, 2019, p. 65). The number of students increased from nearly 10,000 in the early 1990s to more than 200,000 in 2018 (MoEYS, 2019, p. 66). There was also a growing number of doctoral students, who numbered 1349 in the 2017-2018 academic year, of whom 96% were studying social science subjects in… Read more
In Praise of Quiet Leadership by Bruce Macfarlane Introduction In this essay I will take my cue from Liz Jackson’s recent contribution to this journal (Jackson, 2021) and seek to build on her ideas about humility and vulnerability by exploring the notion of ‘quiet’ leadership. I believe that Liz speaks for many academics when she says that she does not feel that her personality or professional development has prepared her ‘to become a forceful, visionary leader’ (Jackson, 2021, p. 25). Rather she sees herself in more modest or humble terms. What concerns me in this essay are two things: firstly, the way in which academic leaders are expected to be dominant and outgoing individuals offering a ‘transformational’ agenda and, secondly, the way in which academic leadership is now widely understood as a career choice rather than an integrated part of being an academic.  I want to question the widespread perception that extroverts make… Read more
Towards the Freedom-Seeking Mission of the Ukrainian University by Serhiy Kvit What do we know about the challenges faced by universities and intellectuals in the country with a long history of statelessness? In this essay, I address this question by looking at the development of the Ukrainian university. In the post-Soviet environment, institutions that are regarded as higher education entities very often have nothing to do with genuine university traditions. For example, the ability to issue higher education diplomas is not a sufficient condition for being an institution of higher education. However, that is not always obvious in the post-Soviet circumstances. Instead of adhering to global standards of organizational purpose, values and standards, some post-Soviet politicians and academics have a tendency to be proud of the international competitiveness and scientific achievements of the Soviet period, when the totalitarian state spent considerable resources on the needs of the military-industrial complex and communist propaganda. The university communities are… Read more
Humility and Vulnerability, or Leaning in? Personal Reflections on Leadership and Difference in Global Universities by Liz Jackson An “Accidental” Leader In higher education and academia, not everyone wants to be a leader. Apart from scholars in fields related to educational or other leadership, many professors are drawn by other aspects, process, and functions of the higher education community. In a university or college, most academics are expected to spend the majority of their working hours doing some combination of teaching and research. Many prefer one of these vital functions over the other. Some love to get lost in the data and ideas of their field. For others, being around young people, and helping them to achieve their goals through lectures, discussion, and other training, is the best part of the gig. It would be foolish to desire to become an academic if neither of these things excited you, because this is the “bread and butter” of the occupation.  On the other hand,… Read more
The Psychic Cost of Free Speech and Academic Freedom by William G. Tierney As with many complex ideas, there is no clear definition of what constitutes academic freedom. The issue has been made that much more complicated with the recent discussions about microaggressions, hate speech, and trigger warnings. A fair question can be raised about why a person who faces a microaggression must have to suffer in order to support the abstract idea of academic freedom. How we define academic freedom also will be a matter of considerable discussion. I am not sure how we get around an argument where two individuals hold fixed positions that are inherently contradictory.  A hypothetical example close to my own experience highlights the inherent tension. Assume a College of Education has a core course entitled “Education and Diversity” that I have taught. The Masters-level course has units on African Americans, Latinx, women in science, disability, undocumented youth, homeless youth, religion focusing on… Read more
"Library" by Gerald Pereira Cross-Cultural Understanding and the Listening Intellect by Ruth Hayhoe One of the greatest lessons of this COVID period for me has been the importance of learning to listen. The term “listening intellect” comes from Rajni Kothari, an Indian scholar who was one of the founders of the World Order Models Project in the 1970s, along with Ali Mazrui, Ashis Nandy and others at the Centre for Developing Societies in Delhi, India (Kothari, 1975). These scholars were mainly from what is now called the global south, then the non-aligned nations, following neither the Soviet Union nor the capitalist West in the Cold War, and they asked to be heard.  Listening sounds like something simple, but the term “intellect” suggests how demanding it is, requiring us to open our minds and hearts to the other at a deep level. Now that we have been under the restrictions necessary to controlling the pandemic for more than a… Read more
"Wroclaw University Library digitizing rare archival texts" by j_cadmus is licensed with CC BY 2.0. Higher Education and Intellectual Leadership: Amplifying Critical Inquiry by Anatoly V. Oleksiyenko Over the past decade, I have encouraged more in-depth discussion of the forces generating asymmetries, anxieties and rancour in global knowledge production (Oleksiyenko and Sa 2010; Oleksiyenko 2014; Oleksiyenko, Zha, Chirikov and Li 2018). Drawing on Macfarlane’s (2013) seminal work on intellectual leadership, Nian Ruan and I recently explored the literature on knowledge production, academic citizenship, boundary transgression, and public intellectualism, and wrote that interdependencies among these forces were important, but poorly understood in global higher education (Oleksieynko and Ruan 2019). The research deepened our concern about academics’ research agendas being steered by neoliberalism toward greater competitiveness, performativity, unfreedoms, and anxieties that intensify human vulnerability in the academe (Oleksiyenko and Tierney 2018). As I have argued, unhealthy competition spearheads disunity and resentment in global academia (Oleksiyenko 2018). Nonetheless, it seems that democracy, freedoms and other socially-significant issues are moving further away from the center to… Read more