The future of higher education lies in the mix of public and private sectors, and the key question is arriving at the mixture so that higher education moves forward in terms of sustainable excellence. These were the remarks of Sir Howard Newby, Vice Chancellor of the University of Liverpool, UK, while delivering an extra mural lecture on “Strategic Partnerships” at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) on 2 August 2011.
Sir Newby remarked that private sector is playing a greater role in the “massification of education” since the public funding is not able to match the demands of higher education. He remarked that in the 1960s, only seven per cent of the student age group was enrolled in higher education in the United Kingdom, whereas the percentage has grown to 45 per cent. He added that there is a growing realization that one of the key elements in global economic competitiveness is the quality of human resources. Higher education is a major driver of the knowledge economy, both by producing knowledge, and by producing skilled graduates that use that knowledge, Sir Newby said.
He identified market forces and competition; quality, standards and performance; and international benchmarking as key challenges to higher education in a globalized society. Referring to the role of governments, Sir Newby remarked that while initially the “role of the government was to provide purpose of universities,” today the “role of universities is to provide purpose of government.” He identified reconciliation between massification of education with quality enhancement as a key challenge along with issues of accountability, league tables and regulation. Sir Newby identified teaching; research; knowledge exchange and transfer; along with social inclusion as the key functions of higher education in the twenty first century.
Earlier Prof. Said Irandoust, President, AIT welcomed Prof. Newby. Among those who graced the occasion included members of AIT’s Executive Committee, Ms. Khunying Jada Wattanasiritham, Director and Executive Director, Siam Commercial Bank Public Co., Ltd.; Mr. John W. Hancock, Honorary Chairman and Senior Advisor of Baker and McKenzie Co., Ltd. Thailand; and Mr. Maris Samaram, AIT Board Member and Chairman of the Audit Committee, Siam Commercial Bank PCL.