[GU]University Cannot Be Run as Business
This is the 20th in a series of interviews with heads of the world’s top universities ― ED.
A growing number of global universities are hiring business-savvy presidents to raise more funds for the development of their schools. It’s not a different story for the No.1 U.K. university.
Even so, the Oxford University chief said that a university cannot be run as a business, stressing that a university head without a commitment toward academia cannot be a good leader.
``Decision-making is very different in a university environment. Oxford, for example, is a highly decentralized institution, with a federal, consultative decision-making structure that includes departments, colleges, and the central administration,’’ he said. ``This is very different to what you encounter in most corporations.’’
Still, he stressed the importance of vigorous cooperation with industries, and contributions to business and society with their achievements from research and studies.
``With growing budgets and increasing scrutiny from their fund donators, universities should be run in a professional way. Like any organization, universities identify their aims ― in our case conducting world-class teaching and research ― and then recruit the very best people to work toward achieving those aims,’’ he said.
Internationalization has also been changing the ratio of foreign nationals not only among students but also academic staff. Among its 20,000 students, one third or 34 percent are international students from 139 countries; 14 percent of the full-time undergraduate students and 63 percent of the full-time postgraduates are from overseas. Also, 38 percent of its academic staff are citizens of countries other than the U.K., the figure has grown by a quarter over the past four years. A total of 95 Koreans and seven Korean academic staff attend the school.
Secrets Behind ‘Oxford Education’
``We do not have quotas for international students. Our admissions policy is based solely on academic ability and potential and we have one of the most rigorous systems in the world for assessing this,’’ he said.
He said it is the moment for Korean universities to rise to a higher level, and wanted to share one of the secrets behind the success of ``Oxford education.’’
``In large lecture halls, students can write down and memorize information, and that is efficient. Taking in information that way can be useful, but when students sit across a table from their teacher, they cannot hide behind other students,’’ he said.
``They have to show that they understood whatever it is they learned. They have to show that they have mastered their subject. Our methods are very inefficient, time-intensive, and labor-intensive, but they produce excellent results.’’
He said a society that cannot invest in education in this fashion risks failing at the most important challenge, the challenge of creating the future.
Oxford boasts a number of its distinguished alumni. More than 30 foreign presidents and prime ministers and 25 British prime ministers graduated from the school.
As for his views on evaluating professors based on feedback from students, the vice-chancellor commented that the university values students’ feedback, but it doesn’t affect official assessment on professors.
``We take seriously students’ views on how they are taught, and in a number of courses collect detailed student feedback on the course content and teachers. We run an annual Teaching Awards Scheme to recognize excellent teaching, with a financial award for successful individuals or teaching teams,’’ he said. ``But student feedback does not have a formal role in performance evaluations.’’
The Oxford head plans to deliver a speech to the Korea Foundation Forum on Friday. During his speech, ``The Reform of University Education in the Twenty-first Century,’’ Hood will touch on how leading universities are meeting today’s challenges. His lecture will examine what is staying the same and what is changing in university education, highlighting innovations.
He also plans to meet Korean donors for Korean studies at the school such as Min Sun-shik of the YBM Si-sa Corporation and Ambassador Yim Sung-joon, president of the Korea Foundation as well as presidents of Seoul National University, Korea University, and Yonsei University to ask them for their advice and guidance in developing Korean Studies. He will also meet Prime Minister Han Seung-soo.
Dr. John Hood was appointed as the 270th vice-chancellor of the university in October 2004. Before coming to Oxford, Hood was a vice-chancellor at the University of Auckland in New Zealand between 1999 and 2004. A graduate from the University of Auckland in civil engineering, he got a master of philosophy in management studies at Oxford University in 1978.