Leader: Look for equal partners

May 5, 2006

The Council for Industry and Higher Education's proposals for international partnerships between universities, which will be debated this week and next in London and Manchester, have conjured up some rather condescending images of Asian institutions operating as call centres while British academics do the serious thinking. The vision of the authors and their advisory group goes well beyond that. The CIHE report ("Outsource to save cash, says industry", April 28) acknowledges that academic excellence is no longer the monopoly of the richest nations - if it ever was - and that businesses now think globally about where to place their contracts. UK universities may cut their costs by outsourcing some services, but the real prize is to forge more equal partnerships by bringing together departments with complementary strengths.

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