Global University Expansion & the Growth of Edu Hot Spots

GlobalHigherEd has a pretty interesting post on the growth of ‘education cities’ or ‘hotspots’ where multiple global educational institutions and corporations co-locate. The blogs describes this trend:

new globalizing knowledge spaces, especially when multiple institutions (and often firms) from different countries are brought together within one space. These may take the form of a branch/overseas/foreign campus, a joint research centre, or perhaps relatively deep transnational linkage schemes (e.g., joint and dual/double degrees, or international consortia of universities).

The post lists many examples of these ventures. The institutions that I am engaged with have all participated in building and supporting global branches. For example, The University of Chicago Grad School of Business has two foreign campuses (London and Singapore).

The knowledge hubs that the post highlights are mostly in developing countries and include; Dubai Knowledge City, Bahrain Higher Education City, Singapore’s Global School House (where U of C is located), and Education CIty Qatar. A mix of schools from the US and Europe are participating in these efforts.

While the GlobalHigherEd post gets philosophical and begins to asks questions on the use of metaphors such as knowledge city, for me the question is whether one can centrally plan ‘global hotspots’ for knowledge production and commercialization. Will the planned spaces provide greater returns (regarding entrepreneurship, growth, and innovation) than current campus eco-systems?

Is there real value from economic planners offering limited spaces (vs. full home campuses) to a handful of leading institutions and then using those spaces (knowledge cities) to mash together various faculty, staff, and students over 3, 6, or 12 month periods?

This approach will likely work for training students and granting degrees (a basic function of the university), it remains to be seen if any kind of entrepreneurial culture and institutions can grow in these planned knowledge zones.

Can Education City Qatar, which hosts institutions such as Carnegie Mellon, Georgetown, and Weill Cornell Medical Center, match the output of places such as NYU located in New York City or UCSF located in the Bay Area? (There is likely a path dependency that cannot be recreated)

Or are these ventures just quick sales that return lots of cash quickly to the schools and give their faculty some time abroad? (The medical school my wife attended makes lots of money training physicians in the Middle East).

It also seems as if these education cities or hot spots are just like the ‘office/science parks’ or ‘industrial zones’ that we saw a lot of in the US in the 1980s and 1990s. The results on such efforts are mixed I believe.

For US based campus entrepreneurs, there is no doubt these efforts (like all study/work abroad offerings) present valuable opportunities to broaden awareness and build global networks. (U of Dayton’s Salud de Sol is one such example).

We’ll continue to watch the global expansion/clustering of knowledge spaces and the opportunities and entrepreneurs that come out of them.

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