Asia

Does research always have to be targeted towards economic benefit?

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If you are a developing Asian state, the answer apparently seems to be ‘yes’. This has been suggested as a strategy for Asian countries in achieving their research and development goals. Resources for scientific research, whether undertaken in universities or in the private sector, should be carefully allocated and targeted towards specific areas for priority development.

Here is well-known international higher education academic Philip Altbach writing about China and India back in 2001:

One strategy available to China and India is targeting specific areas for intensive research and development investment. These areas are generally in fields that can directly benefit the economy and that build on existing strengths in the country.

And here’s another academic, William Cummings, on the growth of a new academic centre in the Asia-Pacific region in 2010:

An interesting line of speculation is that the different academic systems of the Asia-Pacific region might develop distinctive directions of excellence in the decades ahead… China is notable for its achievements in space and in computer-related areas. The Philippines is known for its training of doctors and other health personnel. An infusion of increased resources might allow the country to gain prominence in the health-related sciences.

In recognition of the recent Day of Science in Kyrgyzstan, President Almazbek Atambayev is also weighing in:

Science is of paramount importance in the formation of human capital that is an important factor in accelerating social and economic development of any country. In Kyrgyzstan, it is necessary to concentrate the whole scientific potential on priority directions for the country.

Three narratives from the last 15 years, all suggesting concentration and specialization in some form or another. I think this raises interesting questions around:

  • defining national research/science priorities in an interconnected and interdependent world
  • the benefits and drawbacks of focussing investment in a small number of fields vs sharing resources more widely, if also more thinly
  • the relative weight placed on economic development vs social development
  • whether this push towards concentration is visible in other regions of the world
  • the role that universities can play either in supporting government policy or developing their own priorities drawing on their local, national and global networks

References

Altbach, Philip, “Gigantic Peripheries: India and China in the International Knowledge System,” in Hayhoe, Ruth and Pan, Julia (eds), Knowledge Across Cultures, 2001, pp. 199-214.

Cummings, William.  “Is the Academic Centre Shifting to Asia?” In David Chapman, William Cummings and Gerard Postiglione (eds.) Border Crossing in East Asian Higher Education   (Hong Kong: Comparative Education Centre, University of Hong Kong and Springer Press, 2010), 47-76.

Manasova, Kanykei, “Almazbek Atambayev: We have to concentrate all scientific potential on priority directions for country”, 24.kg, 10.11.2015, accessed from http://www.eng.24.kg/community/177917-news24.html

East is east: university partnerships work all ways

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The Korea Times this week reported on an initiative by the country’s new Uzbek Ambassador to encourage Korean universities to open branch campuses in Uzbekistan. This is an interesting initiative, both in that it’s being initiated by Uzbekistan – not known for its openness to the world – and as a demonstration that university partnerships don’t always go from west to east or north to south. Article below is (c) Korea Times, 10.01.14.

New Uzbek envoy invites Korean universities

Uzbek Ambassador Alisher Kurmanov, left, talks with Park Moo-jong, president of The Korea Times, during his courtesy visit at the latter’s office in Seoul, Friday. / Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul

By Kang Hyun-kyung 

A new Uzbekistan ambassador to Korea said Friday that he is talking with several Korean universities heads to encourage them to open up a branch campus in his country.

“My government is now placing a special focus on the information technology sector,” Ambassador Alisher Kurmanov said during a courtesy visit to Park Moo-jong, president and publisher of The Korea Times.

“One of my first tasks will be opening up a branch of one of the Korean universities in Uzbekistan. For us, knowledge is important. Currently, six foreign universities are operating in Uzbekistan and one of them is from Singapore, of which I moved the campus project forward when I served as ambassador to that country.”

Korea is Kurmanov’s second foreign posting as ambassador. He opened up the Embassy of Uzbekistan in Singapore in 2007.

The new ambassador is optimistic about Korea-Uzbekistan relations under the Park Geun-hye government, predicting they will continue to grow deeper and closer.

Kurmanov expressed hope that President Park will visit his country this year.

“Our Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Azimov, who visited Korea in December, passed the invitation on to President Park on behalf of our leader. And President Park promised to try to visit Uzbekistan,” he said.

He said lots of activities are going on between the two countries.

“Now we have deputy minister of the IT industry who is a Korean. He is overseeing the whole government initiative. We also have a vice rector of our IT university in Uzbekistan. He is from Korea and was sent to our country,” he said.

Kurmanov replaced Vitaliy Fen, who had worked in Seoul for 18 years.

President Park encouraged the new envoy to play a significant role in promoting Uzbek culture in Korea to help Koreans have a better understanding of the country.