Selection of university leaders ─ a blind spot in the internationalisation of higher education
Higher education is a specific profession with its own highly complicated issues, which should be viewed and dealt with in a professional manner, whether it is about the governance concepts of universities and matters associated with teaching, research and promotion, and so forth. Therefore, it is improper to describe the selection of university leaders in the same way as the election of political figures such as congressmen and mayors.
University presidents are not political leaders. Therefore, we should not apply the same rules for street politics for the selection of university presidents. The university is the starting point for seeking the truth, benevolence and beauty. We should adopt an objective attitude as far as possible towards the academic argument of teaching and research, rather than aim at promoting academic activities with street politics dogmas, which will destabilise the choosing of university presidents and distort the academic issues in higher education. In this particular aspect, we lag far behind the US in endeavouring to bring populism into higher education.
If society or the media keep adding fuel to the flames by circulating rumours or what is reported in the press is actually true — that the selection of university presidents has been manipulated for some ulterior motive — then we are miles from the basic notions of higher education and have nothing to feel proud of in spite of the fact that we speak idiomatic and beautiful English, that our university rankings are high, our research achievements splendid, our teaching convincing, our high-sounding talks proper and eloquent, our students academics scores high, our sense of democracy complacent, while populism is so prevalent that we cannot stick to the fact or call a spade a spade any more.
I have reiterated the idea that, when we talk about internationalisation, we should observe international standards and best practices. Otherwise, there will still be some distance between our higher education and the international standards of the 21st century.
Customs and conventions do not come into being by themselves. Social celebrities and personages and university teachers should regard it their paramount mission to promote education, research and professional services. So do not try to interpret higher education in light of street politics; that would run counter to the notion and trend of internationalisation in higher education.
November 25, 2013