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From the Desk of the Chancellor

Global education needs

Apr. 1, 2014

What an idea-packed agenda! The invitation-only conference was titled "Globalization of Higher Education," but it was more a challenge to us to meet the astonishing worldwide growth in demand for higher education (or “tertiary education” -- a term that includes technical as well as college/university).

That growth is stimulated by the absolute need for tertiary education to have a job that pays enough to support a family -- and to create a larger middle class worldwide.

While the really big demand is in Asia and Africa, it is clear that in Indiana we have the challenge of continuing not just to enroll students but to help them complete and compete. 

The conference focused squarely on the challenge of growing while reducing costs, arguing as we have heard repeatedly that it is unsustainable to grow tuition (and student debt) -- especially when students do not complete in a timely fashion. Technology -- including existing successful institutions such as the UK Open University with 200,000 distance and adult students -- is offered as an alternative.

As we move toward implementing the strategic plan it is essential that we face head-on that student success means more students complete stronger programs in less time with less debt. That is a challenge, but IUPUI faculty, staff and students have always been taking on the challenge.

Students have another challenge, according to conference speaker and The New York Times columnist Tom Friedman: Competing in a globalized world. He shared the advice he gives his children:

  1. Think like an immigrant: There is no place guaranteed for you.  So be a paranoid optimist!
  2. Think like an artisan: Take pride in your work; do your work like you will put your initials on it!
  3. Think like a start-up: Everything is always in process, always in beta!
  4. Remember PQ plus CQ trumps IQ: Passion + Curiosity > IQ.
  5. Think like a waitress at a Perkins Pancake House: Be entrepreneurial! For example, one waitress added what she could to the meal -- extra fruit -- and it got her a 50 percent tip!

Friedman says his children are tired of his advice, even though in a changing world this advice sounds pretty wise. You can read online more of Freidman’s advice from a 2013 column.

The conference also touched on the role of research in a global context and that is a topic I will return to in a future column.  

Comments? Write chancllr@iupui.edu.

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