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Reviewed by:
  • Leadership for World-Class Universities: Challenges for Developing Countries
  • Cristina González
Leadership for World-Class Universities: Challenges for Developing Countries Philip G. Altbach (Ed.). 2011. New York & London: Routledge. 272 pp. Hardback: ISBN 978-0-415-80028-0 ($155.00). Paperback: ISBN 978-0-415-80029-7 ($44.95).

As Goolam Mohamedbhai, former President of the International Association of Universities, notes in the preface, the common thread running though this book concerns the need for academic leaders to be aware of the major global trends in higher education that will have an impact on their institutions. This comprehensive volume covers all of the issues that could and should be of interest to university presidents and other administrators. The collection consists of thirteen chapters containing work by scholars from various countries and an introduction by Philip G. Altbach, who discusses the need to train academic leaders for a job that is much more difficult than it used to be.

Chapter 1, by Fred M. Hayward and Daniel J. Ncayiyana, emphasizes that in the absence of an explicit plan, the budget is the de facto plan. In order for universities to advance, they need to articulate, implement, and monitor plans to guide their budgets rather than letting their budgets become their de facto plans. Universities must have a culture of planning and constantly evaluate their situations in order to enhance preparedness. In chapter 2, Álvaro Rojas and Andrés Bernasconi review various approaches to managing universities, concluding that universities are not democracies. While consultation with the faculty senate is important, universities need strong presidents who must be able to recruit their own executive teams and establish goals appropriate for their institutions.

D. Bruce Johnstone discusses funding issues in chapter 3, in which he points out that in most countries, universities are losing public funding, which is forcing them to adopt a cost-sharing model in which students pay much more than before, often with the help of loans. Free higher education is disappearing in most nations. Governments, however, continue to subsidize higher education, and their contributions are still greater than tuition, which typically covers less than half the cost of educating students. Johnstone believes that governments should not withdraw their support of higher education. This calls for courageous leadership on the part of university presidents, who must be strong advocates for their institutions. In chapter 4, David E. Bloom and Henry Rosovsky discuss the nature of good governance, which is one of the hallmarks of worldclass universities. Good governance includes cooperation between faculty and administration, accountability, transparency, meritocratic selection, and academic freedom. Financial stability is necessary to make good governance possible. [End Page 144]

In chapter 5, Pedro Rosso examines the challenges facing mission-driven universities—that is, institutions of higher learning that have religious, patriotic, social, and/or cultural motivations. In order to be socially relevant, these institutions must maintain their identities while achieving academic excellence, which is not always easy. In chapter 6, Altbach and Jane Knight discuss the internationalization of universities, including the use of English and the standardization of the curriculum, pointing out that most of the world’s foreign students are self-funded and choose their countries of destination and fields of study—thereby making this is a student-driven phenomenon.

Liz Reisberg discusses quality standards in chapter 7, in which she explains that these are often overemphasized and meaningless, functioning as a distraction from a true consideration of excellence. The competition for prestige can also have negative effects, as it favors superficial indicators of quality. For Reisberg, the best approach to quality enhancement is the existence of an institutional culture of self-criticism. In chapter 8, Nian Cai Liu and Ying Cheng focus on the impact and limitations of world-wide university rankings, which were first created by Shanghai Jiao Tong University and are a natural product of the global economy. This chapter suggests that universities should become more focused on quality and innovation than on quantity and prestige.

In chapter 9, Kai-Ming Cheng analyzes the concept of institutional advancement, highlighting the importance of philanthropy as a necessary complement to public funding. Indeed, some states, such as Singapore and Hong Kong, have...


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