The best thing that countries that strive for top-notch research and education can do, is to start a whole new university. This is often easier than raising the level of an old university. That was one of the conclusions in a book by the World Bank on top universities.
This does not apply to the Netherlands, however, says one of the authors, Jamil Salmi. “Dutch higher education is already world-class. It is a mix of a few top universities, followed by a number of good universities and good higher professional education. Considering the present financial climate, it would be wiser to improve existing institutes than to set up a new university.” Salmi believes that new impulses do no harm: “The University Colleges in the Netherlands definitely provide a positive incentive.”
It is logical that almost every country wants to have a top university, the World Bank feels, because it is good for the economy. But this is not easy, not in the last place because of the high costs involved. Saudi Arabia is paying ten billion dollars for a new university, but not every country has that kind of money. Besides, money is not everything. A self-reflecting culture is also important, because top institutes must stay keen. Universities must also connect with international research and attract good researchers and students.