CANADA: Global graduate schools body planned

An area of academe lacking its own international association could soon be corrected with moves to establish a worldwide body for graduate education.

The likely creation of a global graduate schools organisation follows the first meeting of five national graduate education bodies in Canada last month. The group of association heads from Europe, the US, China, Canada and Australia met in Banff in the Canadian Rockies, where they discussed the plan.

If formed, the new body will place emphasis on the political and economic aspects of graduate education. The Banff meeting looked at the need to incorporate all stakeholders into the graduate school realm, including employers and policy-makers.

The organisations say graduate education needs to be seen as a regional and national economic driver, with the flows of top international talent better understood. Tracking global talent coming in and out of countries is one thing the new body could do well, says Fred Hall, president of the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies.

Hall points to the fact that a country like China may lose students temporarily to North American schools, yet many return home later. He says that while Canada is a net importer of students, there are no figures on the extent of their retention.

The Banff conference grew out of discussions begun a year ago at a trans-Atlantic meeting in Salzburg, Austria, between two of the five associations, the US-based Council of Graduate Schools and the European University Association.

Delegates at the meeting agreed that, in an environment of growing competition in graduate education, there was a need for increased international dialogue and cooperation.

The proposed international association, which at this point is still a grouping of the five associations, hopes to work to harmonise issues facing most graduate schools and take those challenges beyond the current national levels.

The Banff group also issued a statement setting out principles to guide their future collective and collaborative work “to advance and improve graduate education”.

“There will likely be a push for a follow-up meeting and to expand the set of countries,” Hall says, referring to the fact the meeting only represented Europe, a slice of the Pacific Rim and two countries in the western hemisphere.

For more information on the Banff meeting, visit the website of the US’s Council of Graduate Schools.
More reports on the Council of Graduate Schools site