World-class. The brave new world of global higher education and research

Brussels, 15 October 2010


"Everyone wants a world-class university. No country feels it can do without one. The problem is that no one knows what a world-class university is, and no one has figured out how to get one."

This is the verdict on the ‘world-class university’ of one of the renowned speakers at this ACA European Policy Seminar and leading experts on the issue, Philip Altbach of Boston College. As Altbach points out, the ‘concept’ is as hotly debated as it is vague and little understood. In short, it is a challenge.

This one-day seminar aimed to familiarise participants with the state-of- the-art thinking on what constitutes a ‘world-class university’ and what it takes to build one. More in detail, it

  • addressed the role of internationalisation, funding, and governance in the creation of internationally excellent higher education institutions
  • analysed the link between the world-class concept and the recent emergence of global rankings
  • asked – and answered – the question who needs one – or more – world class universities
  • explored the link between world-class universities and the entire higher education system, by asking the question which “undergrowth” of other institutions an internationally leading university needs in order to thrive
  • explored alternative concepts of excellence beyond that of the research university  
  • scrutinised the role of teaching and learning in excellence.

26th in the series “European Policy Seminars” of the Academic Cooperation Association