The New School, June 2009
Knowledge and human capital are now the main drivers of economic development and the key determinants of national competitiveness. The role of research universities in the development process has changed as a result of the emergence of the knowledge economy. Research universities educate a country's most talented students, irrespective of socioeconomic status; their graduates serve society in important ways, as innovators, entrepreneurs, managers, civil servants, and political and civic leaders. In developing countries, apex research universities often play a critical role in adapting advancements in global knowledge to conditions in their own countries. The knowledge generated by research universities contributes to social well being and prosperity. Research universities are increasingly viewed as symbols of national prestige. Having a handful of research universities benefits the entire national education system by producing highly qualified professors and teachers. For all of these reasons, countries have expended vast sums of money in an effort to build world-class research universities. However, the results of these efforts have been mixed.