Pages

Subscribe Twitter Twitter

Thursday, June 9, 2011

On What Makes a Top University

A survey of living MIT alumni found that they have formed 25,800 companies, employing more than three million people including about a quarter of the workforce of Silicon Valley. Those firms between them generate global revenues of about $1.9tn (£1.2tn) a year. If MIT was a country, it would have the 11th highest GDP of any nation in the world.
The full article, which talks about the university's 150th anniversary, is here.

In other news, my alma mater, the Ateneo de Manila University celebrates being the first in the Philippines to receive Institutional Accreditation and Level IV Reaccredited status by the Federation of Accrediting Agencies of the Philippines (FAAP). There is a ton to rejoice about of course. It confirms that we are a top school in the country.

But a voice in my head also asks: but how many entrepreneurs has the university produced? How many jobs has the school created through its students?

One looks at top schools like Harvard, MIT, etc. and the people here have a totally different mindset from the folk at usual universities. Watch the Social Network. While people do not talk that way as they do in the movie, the film captures the culture accurately: the goal is always to come up with the next new idea, to create the next new job.

Unfortunately, I still do not quite see this in the Ateneo. It reminds me that despite the awards, we are still far, very far, from being a truly top school. There's no room for complacency.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

This discounts the comparative advantage of the aforementioned American universities in entrepreneurship. In a third-world country such as the Philippines, wherein the education system is so bad that a college degree is necessary to get any decent job, there are very few opportunities for such ventures. Creativity and innovation are utilized to survive on a day-to-day basis. Perhaps such is not the case in the Ateneo, with so many affluent students in its population. But in equally talented universities such as UP and UST, for example, there are more imminent struggles.

The parameters of being a top university cannot be limited to the jobs it has produced. In UP, some students find the revolution a more significant cause than the production of jobs in a heartless labor system such as ours. Is not the struggle for a more efficient system of governance also a move for development? There are also important movements in the arts, in film, in literature, etc. But in the same way that GDP is centralized into the hands of particular countries, the arts have been centralized as well.

There is something more potent than simply creating the next new job. We might, indeed, be looking for someone to come up with the next new idea - but the next new job? But most importantly, it is not complacency, but again resources, that allow MIT, Harvard et al access to the rich trove of information Philippine libraries, especially professors and students, are deprived of. It has been statistically proven that financial status is correlated with academic success. The Philippines is very far. And that is why, people like you have to be more aggressive with our development.

Anonymous said...

This discounts the comparative advantage of the aforementioned American universities in entrepreneurship. In a third-world country such as the Philippines, wherein the education system is so bad that a college degree is necessary to get any decent job, there are very few opportunities for such ventures. Creativity and innovation are utilized to survive on a day-to-day basis. Perhaps such is not the case in the Ateneo, with so many affluent students in its population. But in equally talented universities such as UP and UST, for example, there are more imminent struggles.

The parameters of being a top university cannot be limited to the jobs it has produced. In UP, some students find the revolution a more significant cause than the production of jobs in a heartless labor system such as ours. Is not the struggle for a more efficient system of governance also a move for development? There are also important movements in the arts, in film, in literature, etc. But in the same way that GDP is centralized into the hands of particular countries, the arts have been centralized as well.

There is something more potent than simply creating the next new job. We might, indeed, be looking for someone to come up with the next new idea - but the next new job? But most importantly, it is not complacency, but again resources, that allow MIT, Harvard et al access to the rich trove of information Philippine libraries, especially professors and students, are deprived of. It has been statistically proven that financial status is correlated with academic success. The Philippines is very far. And that is why, people like you have to be more aggressive with our development.

Paolo Abarcar said...

Thanks for the comment Anonymous. I agree. A university should not be judged solely on the number of jobs it produces. But it's one of the many things that make a university good. I just wished to point out that the entrepreneurial spirit is a good culture to mimic if one can. And yes, resources are binding constraint, but it should not be an excuse.

Jason Kerwin said...

The calculation of "if MIT were a country" is clearly double-counting jobs and output: few of those companies were founded by MIT alumni alone, and as Anonymous points out even those that were got venture capital from other Americans.

I'm sure MIT has made huge contributions to the US economy but that calculation isn't even a decent back-of-the-envelope guess at how big they are.

Leland said...

Hi Pao!

Philippine universities have long been run to graduate employees, not entrepreneurs. It is only recently that some schools have started to think of encouraging entrepreneurship.

Post a Comment