The BRICS and Emerging Economies Universities Summit took place at the University of Johannesburg (South Africa) from 30 November to 2 December, 2016.
BRICS Network University was one of the widely discussed projects during the event. First of all, BRICS NU helped Times Higher Education to organize a special student panel discussion. Mr. Vitor Ribeiro from The Federal University of Rio Grande do Sol represented Brazil, Mr. Iaroslav Golubev (ITMO) was the Russian participant; China was represented by the Beijing Normal University student, Mr. Keyang Peng; the representative from India, Mrs. Nupur Patel, is in fact a student of the University of Johannesburg (South Africa). Finally, South Africa was represented by a doctoral student of the University of Johannesburg, Mr. Tshepo Moloi. All the students, thus, came from the BRICS NU participant universities, and discussed the role of the student movements in re-imaging the universities in twenty-first century. Answering the main question of the session on what students want from the 21st century education, Iaroslav Golubev spoke about the need of more engaged teaching practice, while Mrs. Nupur Patel commented on the need for non-science subjects to be taught “in a practical way”. The discussions of the panel session have been described in details by Mrs. Ellie Bothwell from Times Higher Education here: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/blog/it-doesnt-matter-where-they-are-students-know-what-they-want.
Secondly, BRICS Network University featured in the discussions of the panel session devoted to the role of the global factors (networks, investments, rankings) in reimaging the future university. The session has been moderated by Prof. Maxim Khomyakov (Ural Federal University), who asked the panelists questions on how, in their opinion, horizontal collaborations, promoted by the networks, change the face of the international higher education. Panelists from South Africa (Prof. David Monyae), Nigeria (Prof. Godwin Murunga), and Ireland (Prof. Bairbre Redmond) commented on the role of the global factors in shaping future higher education. Prof. Bairbre Redmond, who is a provost of one of the most successful international university networks, Universitas 21, specifically discussed the question on the added value of the network collaboration.
Finally, one of the keynote speeches for the summit was also devoted to the BRICS Network University. Namely, Prof. Maxim Khomyakov (Ural Federal University) in his keynote lecture “Global Academic Networks and Future of the Universities: National Excellence Projects and International Associations” opposed various excellence projects (like Russian 5/100) and international university networks. The main idea of the presentation was that while excellence projects aim at better integration of the national systems of higher education into the World Academia and therefore motivate higher education institutions to imitate standards of the world-class universities, the activity of the BRICS Network University is based upon the shared problems of the five BRICS countries. While excellence projects are oriented rather at creating elite world-class universities, the networks do make significant attempt to establish horizontal ties among the universities. The logic of the excellence projects is one of the world academic rankings, while the logic behind the networks is often linked to the construction of the alternative vision of international higher education.
In general, the Times Higher Education summit in Johannesburg demonstrated increasing international visibility of the BRICS Network University project, and, in its turn, contributed to the establishment of its international academic reputation.