Writing exclusively for CANZUK International, Alexander Lee explains why universities across Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom could collaborate for educational research and scholarships to become a global education superpower.
2020 and COVID-19 have demonstrated the fundamental importance of tertiary research as the world’s top universities compete to find treatments and vaccines.
It has become commonplace to speak of the ‘Oxford Vaccine’ and ‘University of Queensland Vaccine’. Universities remain on the cutting edge of innovation, and when the world is hit by crisis, it is academic researchers who are mobilised.
Free movement between the CANZUK countries will unite some of the world’s best universities into a common space. The 2021 QS world university rankings, which prioritise and rank research output and academic reputation, place twenty-nine CANZUK universities in the top 100; eighteen in the United Kingdom, seven in Australia, three in Canada and one in New Zealand.
Bringing together twenty-nine world class universities for seamless cooperation would be unprecedented, yet monumentally beneficial.
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It would unite such high-ranking universities that the only comparable academic bloc would be the United States.
The United States boasts slightly fewer top universities than CANZUK, with twenty-seven placed in the QS top 100. This is despite having approximately 200 million more people than the CANZUK countries.
To fully appreciate just how significant the CANZUK universities are on the world stage, the People’s Republic of China only has six of the world’s top 100 universities.
Just as Australian and New Zealand universities benefit from being able to hire world class researchers and scholars from each other’s countries, bringing Canada and the United Kingdom into this arrangement would be transformational. But it is not only researchers and academics that would benefit from CANZUK educational opportunities – undergraduate students would also have their horizons broadened.
Lifting barriers to study, or go on exchange, in any of Canada, Australia, New Zealand & the UK will strengthen the bonds between these four countries. The European Erasmus program opened economic doors and created a cultural impact, and so to will such collaboration between CANZUK universities. Everything from finding internships to full time careers will be easier for undergraduate students.
Post-graduate students will no longer be limited by strict visa conditions and will be able to apply to study with supervisors and at institutions on the cutting edge of every field. Being able to work and study within CANZUK will be an incredible boon to the next generation of scholars.
Any economic, academic and cultural exchange within CANZUK will occur faster and be more comprehensive than the positively received Erasmus program, owing to the pre-existing realities of a shared language, history and culture. In normal times, such an arrangement would be incredibly significant, and this has been amplified by the events of 2020. Being able to draw upon the combined CANZUK talent pool could become part of the recovery and revitalisation of the university sector which has been badly shaken by this pandemic.
The CANZUK countries punch above their weight in a plethora of fields. Individually, they make an impressive contribution to the world’s academic output, but collectively, they could cement their position as an education superpower.
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