The world’s best universities deserve the best leaders. And looking at their President Offices, they’re not far from achieving that. The curriculums, lists of publications, board memberships and honorary degrees achieved by the top institutions’ Presidents and Chancellors show just how much value is given to academic achievements at this level. Law, History, Physics, Engineering, Geography and Medicine are the most common subjects senior education leaders are qualified in, from Bachelor to PhD level.

Over the past few years, these leaders and thousands others globally have faced challenges that are set to change the way education is dispensed around the world; and they will keep doing so for the decades to come. In a world where technologies enable instantaneous, free communications; where people can study for degrees online; and where universities attract students from around the world, senior educational leaders need to be more than academics.

USC Rossier library

The new challenges include internationalisation of courses, how to increase allocated funding for research, how to raise the profile of a faculty, or how to devise a plan to provide financial aid to improve access to university. To face these, tomorrow’s leaders need business acumen, strong leadership talent, leadership skills and competitive ideas to push their institution to the cutting-edge of innovation.

The University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles has begun offering its own tailored response to these specific 21st century leaders’ needs. They have launched a Global Executive Doctor of Education (EdD), offered over two years by the Rossier School of Education, to welcome professionals looking to sharpen their business skills and get a global perspective on these educational trends.

The School of Education at USC has gone from strength to strength, since the first education classes taught there in the 1890s through to the generous $20 million gift by alumni Barbara J. and Roger W. Rossier in 1998, after whom the school was renamed. The school’s work is field-based, in the classroom, and online, and reflects a diversity of perspectives and experiences. The Global Executive Doctor of Education program in particular is innovative and prepares senior educational leaders and policy makers for the challenges they face within their roles. Run in partnership with one of the top institutions in Asia, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the program is conducted with in-person residential sessions in Los Angeles and Hong Kong in addition to collaborative online coursework.

Rossier's 2012 Global EdD cohort

On the course, which is designed to be taken by active professionals in conjunction with their busy schedules, students learn to apply knowledge to the issues they are facing. The tuition focuses on the global trends shaping educational policy and practice around the world; learning to mobilize human, fiscal, physical, and technological resources to facilitate change in educational systems; developing problem-solving skills; and learning to design, critique and conduct research relevant to their role as global leaders.

Students on this highly demanding and competitive program also benefit from Rossier’s unique global network of contacts and opportunities through the faculty, other students and guest speakers. Qualified candidates for this program will have at least 10 years’ experience in a senior leadership position, a strong academic background and a record of involvement in both their personal and professional lives.

There’s no stopping the changes education is undergoing and in a bid for the sector to adapt, its leaders have to achieve large-scale improvements across systems. They will need to examine educational solutions from around the world and adapt them to work with their own local challenges. Increasingly, institutions around the world are offering programs for leaders to refresh their skills and knowledge; as even the world’s top leaders need to prepare to implement large scale improvements across educational systems globally.

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