Book Reviews

Book by Roger King
Review by John G. Igwebuike
Alcorn State University School of Business

The University in the Global Age is one of a stream of book titles flowing from the series, Universities into the 21st Century, edited by Noel Entwistle and Roger King.  These books explore millennial issues in higher education.  Robert King edits The University in the Global Age and writes the bulk of the eight essays, of which four others contribute.
The value of the book lies in the authors’ pluck in tackling a complex, global issue (higher education) amid tectonic shifts (technological, geo-political, fiscal, and economic) marked by unprecedented change ( growing populations, burgeoning enrollment, soaring national debt, and increasing interconnectedness) as world-wide competition intensifies for intellectual capital.  To this, the authors deftly elucidated dichotomous, divergent, and disparate matters into a compact, well-synthesized book of 192 pages.
The book’s central tenet is inescapable:  globalization is a reality, not a choice.  The prosperity of nation states is predicated upon developing a creative class that fosters wealth creation.  Hence, nation state prosperity is predicated upon state of intellectual prosperity of each citizen.  Indeed, the authors espouse, research-intensive, innovation-oriented universities (or “the modern universities”) are key drivers of robust mind-capital development.  The authors suggest paradigms from the UK, US, and Europe as models of contemporary universities operating in a borderless higher education space where knowledge content is diffuse, accessible, and mobile for its mobile learners.  These newfangled templates are examined in light of regulatory challenges, intellectual property right ownership, and differentiation of research focus.

Yes, nations and governments increasingly recognize that a highly educated citizenry affords economic benefits and inures to the nation prosperity and national competitiveness.  However, effectuating this end comes with real costs and/or painful cost-cutting.  Additionally, fiscal tradeoffs must be made competing, and equally compelling budgetary considerations (healthcare, infrastructure, energy, entitlements, etc.).  Furthermore, government entrenchment in educational oversight and accountability given the rising costs vis. national debts makes this a question requiring extensive discussion towards suggesting workable solutions.  Expatiation on such monetary implications was de minimus.  Undoubtedly, the outcomes of such discussions will turn on philosophically divergent question:  “Is higher education a public good or an individual good?”  Reconciling these seemingly antipodal queries has significant bearing upon who ultimately bears the high costs of higher education at the modern university.  Therefore, discussion regarding best practices, externalities, and policy considerations appurtenant to this ever-present, funding debate is critical.  Suggestions strategies and policy in this regard would definitely afford readers valuable ideas, in addition to the insights already abounding in the book.

Finally, and taken together, the book prognosticates interesting--and telling--parallels between higher education institutions and global firms.  For instance, as firms become increasingly multinational (global) in substance and scope to stay competitive, build market-share, and ensure profitability, so, too, must modern universities expand globally to stay competitive and remain viable in the global arena.  The far-flung satellite campuses of Harvard, Cornell, and Berkeley in regions such as Asia, India, Africa, the Middle-east, evidence strategic bets by contemporary universities to expand their reach and secure their stakes in the highly competitive space for intellectual capital.  This trend likely will continue to increase and adviser can anticipate a more globally diverse pool of advisees.  Thus, advisors are advised to use this valuable book, and anticipate further series to follow, in order to understand the trends shaping and reshaping higher education and the modern university. 

The University in the Global Age. (2004). Book by Roger King. Review by John G. Igwebuike. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.  192 pp.  Price $110. 978-1-4039-3467-3

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