Good Practice and International Advice
Education is about learning. Universities are generally good at learning from national and international practice. Practically in all of the areas of excellence discussed, we realize that there are front-runners in educating for twenty-first century skills and in research for socio-economic development. The strategy of a university is based on the insights acquired and developed by front-runners. These insights are documented and translated to their own specific localized situation for implementation. Young universities would like to understand why some have made it to the “top 50 under 50” in rankings and what can be learned from them. Older universities would equally like to understand why in particular more Asian universities are appearing among the top 200. What have they done to accomplish this? “Institutional research” under the leadership of the university President is an essential prerequisite for a university to improve its quality. This should not only cover the research area, but even more so the education and learning agenda of the university, as that is where presumably the greatest contribution to society lies.
An International Advisory Board can help to contribute to the knowledge on good practice. I have myself been a beneficiary of such an international advisory board as President of Maastricht University. Subsequently I was able to contribute to the University of Siegen, the Presidential University of Russia (the Russian Academy for National Economy and Public Administration, RANEPA) and King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The experiences showed that international advice can help to remove the mental blocks imposed by history that limit the room for a focused strategy and its implementation.