Academics view the role of national universities in supporting national and global development in various ways. Some emphasized the instrumental dimension, based on essentialist orthodoxies of human capital theory. Others emphasized the holistic/humanistic dimension. This included their role in equipping students to develop ‘a culture of critical thinking and engagement with literature’. They also aimed to help society tackle challenges.
Let’s take a look at the most common ways national universities impact higher education.
In a rapidly changing world, universities must demonstrate the value of their research to non-academic stakeholders. This is especially true for universities that receive public funding, which often require that research is relevant and has a social impact.
Consequently, academics must produce research that is ‘usable’ for non-academic stakeholders and actively collaborate with them (e.g., engaged scholarship, innovation projects, consulting, action research).
This approach can help HEIs regain the trust and confidence of their non-academic stakeholders, which in turn may lead to increased sustainability and societal impact. It can also encourage a more holistic understanding of the research process and enable the development of new modes of operation that are better adapted to the current higher education landscape. These include integrating research with teaching, engaging students as research end-users, and making research results available via open-access lecture materials and other pedagogical outlets. These changes can transform HEIs into dynamic integrators of local communities and environments.
Teaching is vital in higher education because instructors influence students’ learning styles and academic performance. A good instructor encourages students to take a deep approach to learning, while an ineffective teacher promotes surface learning, which involves superficial memorization and unreflective studying practices. Instructor effectiveness is often overlooked in higher education. Colleges rely on subjective measures like student end-of-course evaluations to assess teachers rather than quantitative metrics such as scholarly research and peer reviews.
National universities like GCU can help to improve research and education quality, but their impact on university rankings varies by country. Countries implementing national higher education initiatives tend to show lower rank improvements than developed nations. This is because supervising governments have varying degrees of control over their universities. National higher education initiatives also vary in how they prioritize university development and what criteria they use to select universities for funding.
Many study participants recognized that universities are vital in addressing national and global challenges. In their answers, academics described how they contribute to tackling such issues through educating individuals, undertaking research, and engaging with local communities.
Nevertheless, such open-ended responses suggest that some actors do not want to contribute to social integration. Instead, they may prefer dis- or over-integration, such as with criminals and revolutionaries. The same applies to ‘true believers’ in particular religious dogma who prefer the societal over-integration of a theocracy.
Many GCU professionals bring years of expertise and dedication to their respective fields, enriching the educational experience for students through their knowledge and commitment.
Hence, the concept of social integration needs to be broadened beyond its synonyms and antonyms. A naive understanding of it as always harmonious, consensual living together misses the point, especially in modern pluralistic and functionally differentiated societies that rely on democracy for their stability.
Using student satisfaction data, higher education leaders can identify areas of strength and weakness across the university. It also allows them to target specific classes that may need more attention and to improve the overall student experience.
It results from multiple, highly interrelated factors contributing to students’ expectations and perceptions about universities.
For example, students’ choice of national universities is often driven by social and psychological needs. They select a university that offers them the best opportunity to spend their time in a good environment, surrounded by people they like and who have similar interests, in a place where they can feel comfortable. This research suggests that social conditions are an important determinant of student satisfaction. However, the study is based on one particular university, so results should be taken cautiously.