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Higher Education in America and Britain: Trans-Atlantic Lessons from the New York Commission on Higher Education

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Katie O'Donovan.

This seminar is an opportunity to hear from the Chancellor of one of the three largest universities in the world, and to have the opportunity to discuss emerging issues that affect teaching, research, resourcing and funding on both sides of the Atlantic.

Dr. Clark is Interim Chancellor of the State University of New York (aka ‘SUNY’), the largest university system in the U.S., with over 420,000 students across 64 campuses. He is also a member of New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s ‘Blue Ribbon’ Commission on Higher Education, charged with designing New York State’s approach to public and private higher education in the coming decades. The Commission published its Preliminary Report in December.

Chancellor Clark (in America the ‘Chancellor’ is de facto as well as titular leader) will outline the findings of the Report (with copies available before his visit) and provide a commentary on some of its salient issues. Professor Leslie, who is an expert on comparative higher education, will briefly draw out some of the connections with higher education in the U.K.

A number of the issues in the Report will resonate on this side of the Atlantic. Among them are: the demands on universities for research prestige and cutting-edge, economically beneficial research; access from secondary schools and non-baccalaureate colleges; the demographic composition (i.e., “diversity”) of students and faculty; the role of teaching universities; and the balance of public and private funding. As Britain comes to grips with mass higher education in general and the aftermath of the 2003 White Paper specifically, issues for discussion may include international research rankings, Foundation Courses, access, student ‘diversity’, transfer among institutions, and the fate of non-Russell Group institutions after the next RAE .

A contrasting state of affairs

The scope of higher education in New York State provides fascinating parallels and contrasts with the Britain scene. In addition to the public SUNY and CUNY (City University of New York) systems, there are nearly 150 private colleges and universities in New York State, ranging from small liberal arts colleges to two (Columbia and Cornell) ‘Ivy League’ universities. In addition to four research universities and 32 community colleges, SUNY includes 12 non-doctoral ‘university colleges’, two medical centres, 8 technical colleges, and public-private partnerships in fields such as ceramics, forestry, optometry, veterinary medicine, and industrial relations.

This talk is part of the Leadership for Learning: The Cambridge Network series.

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