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From Melbourne, Australia’s Knowledge Capital, to Destination Dublin

Can Melbourne’s dual strategies of knowledge-city development and international student focus be achieved in Dublin?

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Author - Claire Doran


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1. Linking globalization, regionalization, HE and internationalization

In recent times, intense debate about globalization and its impact on a myriad of aspects of modern life has raged. Defined as ‘the widening, deepening and speeding up of world wide interconnectedness’ (Held et al. in Marginson and van der Wende 2007: 5), globalization is often seen as a process of weakening of the nation state as it ‘ignores the existence of nations and their diversity’ (de Wit 2002: 150). Globalization is also transforming the higher education landscape and is regarded as ‘the most fundamental challenge faced by the university in its long history’ (Scott in de Wit 2002: 142).

Often associated with globalization and the weakening of the nation state is the concept of regionalization. A region is ‘a self-sustained, albeit open and dependent, site of economic development, characterized by a certain degree of internal coherence and power to act as a collective agent’ (Moulaert and Sekia in De Bruijn and Lagendijk 2005: 1157). From its inception in the 1950s, regional policy was chiefly concerned with narrowing the gap between under-developed and developed areas. Regionalization, therefore, can be understood as the separation of areas into regions, predominantly for economic reasons. The use of ‘regionally targeted investments’ led to the emergence of regional economic clusters and innovation systems. As industry moves increasingly towards technology and knowledge-based activities, regional policy continues to influence economic development (Arbo and Benneworth 2007). Its importance in the sphere of higher education should not be underestimated. Although not as visible in the literature as globalization, regionalization can be viewed as ‘a more important trend in its impact on the national character of higher education’ (de Wit 2002: 148).

With the advent of the knowledge economy and its central tenet of ‘technological, economic, social and cultural innovation’ (Reichert 2006: 12), regional policy has also witnessed the emergence of city-regions. The British Ideopolis study defines city-regions as ‘enlarged territories from which core urban areas draw people for work and services such as shopping, education, health, leisure and entertainment’ (Reichert 2006: 10). A key feature of knowledge city-regions is their ‘capacity to attract, retain and integrate talented individuals’ who contribute to the knowledge economy (Reichert 2006: 12).

The key stakeholders in the knowledge economy – government, industry and HEIs – have recognized that cooperation is the only way forward in the face of increasing global competition (Reichert 2006). This collaborative approach has led to the (partial) dismantling of the ivory tower of academia, replacing it with an active role in the ‘triple helix of university–industry–government relations’ (Etkowitz and Leydesdorff in de Wit 2002: 145).

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