How to Build, or Transform into, a World-Class University?

That is a question which should keep university presidents, board of trustees, investors and leaders awake. If it doesn’t, then all stakeholders should worry!


The founding tenets and vision are where clarity and focus is critical.

As I realized, when I was the CEO of a liberal arts college, the institutional vision and mission is very difficult to change course even when we know the model is not working.

Founding stakeholders find it difficult to admit that course change is required and the new mission requires hard decisions that stakeholders may not be committed to.

Some examples or themes to consider are:

·     How global are you – partners, employers, faculty/staff and students?

·     How important are employability and innovation competencies?

·     How do you plan to deliver a world class educational (and/or research) experience

·     What is your thinking on affordability and quality trade-offs?

On the execution side the elements to consider – and get a head start – are:

Best in class partnerships

a) Top notch global universities that you would like to emulate – they could lend curriculum and academic process expertise, joint/dual degree/certification, seconded and visiting faculty, student transfer and exchange, teacher training and ongoing quality improvement…

b) Local and global employer partnerships – Invite curriculum advice from potential employers (and actually implement it), guest lectures from industry, internships and projects and a clear strategy for student employment/placement from the start – do not leave this for later as industry hiring relationships take time to build and understanding the fast changing job requirements takes even more agility.

Roadmap for the future

a) Need to have a well thought through phased plan for existing and new academic programs, calibrate the faculty, infrastructure, student acquisition, placement tie-ups.

b) Be at the cutting edge of the change in digital education – leverage current and future trends in efficiency, outcome generating best practices, platforms, tools and training to future proof the institution.

Building the brand

a) Globally renowned thought leaders, academics, industry leaders need to be inducted on the advisory and governing board.

b) Invest in luminary visiting faculties from partner institutions in the region and elite universities.

c) Leverage the brands of university affiliations.

d) Brand campaign with consistent, clear, engaging and action oriented messaging across target audiences – ie. student, parent, faculty, employers, public.

Quality in everything you do

a) Faculty – increasingly faculty, across the world, has been locally and globally mobile and this presents an opportunity to hand-pick best talent for a quality campus and quality of life. Faculty in the west as well is seeking exposure and experience in international markets.

b) Physical infrastructure needs to have quality design and sustainability standards imbibed from the best new universities that have set a benchmark in the past 30-40 years (relatively young by university standards!).

c) High caliber professionals for managerial and administrative functions ie campus, placement, student acquisition, brand/marketing campaign, partnerships and strategy.

Contribute visibly to local community

a) Recruit, train, develop local talent for faculty and administrative positions

b) Partner and deliver value to local employers eg internships, projects, sponsored research, quality placements, visiting faculty from practicing professionals, curriculum adaptation…

c) Strive to meet the government’s goals for developing human resources for the economy

d) Support a reasonable number of financially disadvantaged students through scholarships, tuition waivers soft loans

This is just a directional guide to trigger the thinking as you consider establishing a new institution or transform an existing campus.

If you need any support or help on brainstorming and framing a cogent and effective institutional strategy – please do not hesitate to contact me.

–      Dr Ajay Shukla

I am the Owner of this educational search portal to facilitate the students to pick up the desired programs.

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