“No Barriers to Free Trade in Minds” writes Ben Wildavsky in the Wall Street Journal

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Ben Wildavsky, author of The Great Brain Race, argues against overt and covert protectionism when it comes to the globalization of higher ed. The globalization of education shares a lot in common with other forms of globalization as Ben notes:

The rhetoric of globalization has become so ubiquitous in the business world that it is easy to forget how radically the same forces are transforming university education.

 And just as the globalization of trade and economics has its detractors, so to does higher education according to Ben:

There are long-standing worries in the developing world about a brain drain, and the converse concern in the West that talented foreigners will crowd out domestic students. Above all, there is a broader fear in the West that as universities elsewhere become stronger and more competitive, we will lose our edge. As President Obama warned during the presidential campaign: How can the U.S. stay competitive when nations like China and Japan are outpacing us in the production of engineering PhDs?

While some countries and universities have taken steps to curtail this global trend, Ben cautions that these efforts may be misguided and that reducing protectionist policies may actually be good for us all.

This apprehensive response to the globalization of universities is misguided. It amounts to modern-day mercantilism, the outmoded idea that in order to prosper a nation must grab the maximum share of a finite amount of global capital. Nothing could be further from the truth…Increasing knowledge is not a zero-sum game. It is a public good that can be used by everyone. The free flow of people and ideas made possible by a global academic culture fosters inventive thinking and prosperity for East and West alike.


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