The vice-chancellor of the University of Bradford is looking to establish a new global mission group of technology universities, which would produce collaborative research, share ideas on how to create global citizens and help developing countries to grow their economies and societies.
Brian Cantor told Times Higher Education that the group would include universities where technology education, applied science research and third-mission activity are core parts of their function.
He said that most existing international university networks are “slightly exclusive clubs of high-quality universities that want to collaborate”, but that the new group would be “much more open” and include a wide range of universities because “different countries have reached different levels of capabilities”.
The Global Alliance of Technological Universities, for example, which was founded in 2009, has 10 members, including the California Institute of Technology, Imperial College London and the Technical University of Munich.
“The idea that universities should become much more integrated into the fabric of the development of society and the development of the economy is a move that has happened in the late 20th and early 21st centuries,” he said.
“When I talk to heads of universities from Malaysia or Chile, I discover that they want to learn from other universities. There is room for non-exclusive technology collaboration.”
He added that he considered launching a UK-focused technology university group, similar to the Australian Technology Network, but felt that it would be too “parochial” and “wouldn’t be a good time” owing to the collapse of the 1994 Group in 2013 and the strength of the Russell Group.
He said that while the UK has a small number of research-intensive technology universities, India’s Institutes of Technology have “always been the pinnacle of academic activity” in the country, Germany has a strong tradition of technology universities, and China’s recent rapid expansion of higher education has been focused on science and technology institutions.
Professor Cantor said that the three main objectives of the World Technology University Network – which is the group’s working title – would be to produce collaborative research on major global challenges, discuss how to educate students to become global citizens, and help developing countries to grow their economies and societies. He added that there would also be potential for the universities to work together on student and staff exchanges.
The potential launch of the network will be discussed at the University of Bradford’s World Technology Universities Congress on 8 and 9 September, during which delegates will share ideas on the application of emerging technologies and the objectives of the group.
Professor Cantor said that leaders or deputy leaders of 21 universities from across the world – including Nanyang Technological University, Dublin City University, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, York University and National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (Taiwan Tech) – will be attending the congress and a further 20 are interested in the network.
He added that the event will include a ceremony during which university leaders will sign a declaration of intent for the launch of the network, with a view to finalising plans for the group over the next 12 months.