The Great Brain Race: How Global Universities Are Reshaping the World
By Ben Wildavsky
Princeton University Press, 2010, 248 pp.
The widespread recognition of the importance of human capital has led one country after another to plow more resources into higher education, with some even explicitly aspiring to establish world-class universities that emulate leading British and U.S. universities. Wildavsky argues that the latter objective will be extremely difficult to achieve, even over decades, but that the effort to increase access to higher-quality education, based on merit and performance rather than personal connections, will be beneficial all around. He addresses all aspects of the internationalization of universities -- students, faculty, branch campuses, financing, and even curricula -- and contends that the combination of research and teaching, although sometimes a source of tension within universities, has been a resounding success. Americans should not fear advances abroad, he points out, since these will only add to the stock of public knowledge and enlarge the possibilities for innovation, which makes everyone better off.