Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Six rules for building good universities

In recent years, an empirical literature has begun to prise apart the management process of universities, seeking to identify the features which cater to excellence. In a previous blog post I summarised five useful ingredients that enable successful universities, from a working paper by Philippe Aghion, Mathias Dewatripont, Caroline M. Hoxby, Andreu Mas-Colell and Andre Sapir:
  1. No government approval required for budget; budget-making happens at the university and university alone.
  2. Reduced government role in the core funding of the university.
  3. High inequality of wages: two academics of the same seniority and rank should get different wages.
  4. Full flexibility in recruitment of students.
  5. A big role for competitive processes for gaining funding for research.
Today, on voxEU, I read an article by Amanda Goodall which identifies a sixth beneficial feature:
 
6. It helps if the university president has strong scientific accomplishments.

13 comments:

  1. Basically this would mean privatisation of universities. Since the government is not willing to privatize any PSUs the question of handing over universities to the private sector will not arise. So the only other way is to allow the private sector/foreigners to set up their own universities. As government universities are not run on profit motive competition may not result in any improvement. Instead it may result in their slow death, which would make sense in terms of allocation of resources.

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  2. Economists are really quite unbelievable. Is there no field which they deem out of bounds for their mickey-mouse methodology? I mean, what gives them expertise in education now? The crsis has shown that they can't even analyse the economy properly. I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

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  3. Yes, Anonymous, all data can and should be analysed.

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  4. Ah, but that's just it, Mr. Shah. By flattening the entire social world into so much "data," economists think they can access any area and gain insight. If this were true, all social knowledge would be reducible to statistics. Instead of understanding that this reduction to "data" entails a massive loss of knowledge and information, economists think that they are engaged in some elevated form of science. The unpalatable truth is that they are, with respect, glorified statisticians.

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  5. anonymous - don't view this as an Economist crunching data - Economists are thinkers first and Ajay just happens to be a fine thinker....I'd rather have his thoughts than Barkha Dutt's/Rajdeep/Sagarika any day...:)

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  6. now now, anonymous, let's not set the bar so low! I would rather that as well, but sadly, that's not really saying much...

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  7. Allowed only 3 Indian corporate company on this (6 Rules) formula for three year and 3 Ngo on this same formula and see result (We don't expect good governance from Government so lets drop here government topic point of view because we are talking about QUALITY)
    My question is why not Privatization ?More school University Hospital and so many sector should privatize on mass level Basic thing is prime reason of corruption is to cover some one .Do not cover throw advantage to open ground for School university hospital see the result
    OZA NIRAV

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  8. @Anti economics Anonymous

    Different economists have different methods - it largely depends on what they are studying. Adam Smith was a philosopher and student of human nature first and then anything else, a perusal of the Wealth of Nations should make that obvious. Similarly, Amartya Sen's body of work consists of a lot of work on justice, moral philosophy, etc. His latest book - The Idea of Justice is a fine example of that. Elinor Ostram is not even an economist by training. A lot of Economics research involves starting with ideas and observations and then data is used to validate those observations and develop finer insights.

    You seem to have a skewed understanding of how and what data is used. All data is of course to be taken with a pinch of salt, that does not mean use of data is futile. Plus, most economists have more useful things to say than your generalities.

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  9. 1.The Indian experience has been somewhat different.Only Private Educational Institute among private ones that is currently better than government run Institutes like IIMs is ISB and probably by a wide margin and in a very small amount of time at that.
    2.One important ingredient that ISB demonstrates is the involvement of some of the top minds in the industry and management education.
    3.This article makes a strong case for investment in excellence in education. The importance of data(yes even in Education)is quite evident from this.

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  10. Competition. Thats what all sectors need. And a certain Chinese gentleman said that the truth must come from facts. Better to see what the numbers say/imply rather than run on sentiment and guesswork. Seems to me that we had a lot of good intentions based on anything but facts in the good old socialist days. Maybe @Anti economics Anonymous longs for that era.

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  11. @ Yunhi, I'm not anti-economist per se, just anti methodological puritanism. If you are seriously going to tell me that there is methodological pluralism in economics, I'm afraid you have a gross misconception of the discipline. But further, economists take this methodology and apply it to the subject matter of other disciplines in an attempt to impart what they see as rigour. Adam Smith would not get a job in any highly-ranked economics department today, and Sen's philosophical work is hardly representative of the discipline. As for Ostrom, again, she's not really that far from the methodological center at all.

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  12. @ Yunhi, I'm not anti-economist per se, just anti methodological puritanism. If you are seriously going to tell me that there is methodological pluralism in economics, I'm afraid you have a gross misconception of the discipline. But further, economists take this methodology and apply it to the subject matter of other disciplines in an attempt to impart what they see as rigour. Adam Smith would not get a job in any highly-ranked economics department today, and Sen's philosophical work is hardly representative of the discipline. As for Ostrom, again, she's not really that far from the methodological center at all.

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  13. Think ...we need to have at least few world class institutes in India which does core research in Finance and Economics. It should be suitably funded by private enterprise. Quantitative Finance/ Econometrics knowledge in India is pathetic. Not sure these MBA guys have any idea what they are talking or dealing with. (Met a few ... feel sad - - of course i could be wrong)

    Like you have been saying (the MIFC report) - this is absolutely essential.

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