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Conceptualization of the “Four Invisible Campuses”

2 May 2019

By Professor Richard Li-Hua


Many times, I have been presented challenging questions. You are creating a university, not a university yet. How can you set up a university? You are still a new university if you can set up a university. How can you attract staff and students? Why stakeholders, parents, business and community have interest on your university? These are fundamental questions to address. However, we are determined that we will not be called “another new university”. Our university is borne with a firm and clear vision and with a strong feature and academic mission – Tackling the challenges and opportunities between west and east and developing future leaders and managers. We are not only proud of having garden-like campus with well-established infrastructure and information and communication technology (ICT), but also from the very beginning we are concentrating on the soft capacity building – academic ambiance, academic capacity building and international visibility. We are passionate on the building of which I referred as the FOUR invisible campuses:


  • Innovative campus
  • Entrepreneurial campus
  • Inspirational campus
  • Bilingual campus


Innovation, entrepreneurship and global mindset are embedded in the design of our programmes that we are developing. Our education ethos is West Meets East – integration and development of west and east management practice, theories and philosophies. Our teaching and learning philosophy is to value and stress the organic and intrinsic linkage among the attributes and/or factors between internationalization, global engagement, competitiveness, sustainability and their complementarities.


Internationalization versus Globalization

Internationalization and globalization are still buzz words in global higher education, which are on the top agenda of universities around the world. However, there is increasingly frequent confusion as to the relationship between internationalization and globalization. Theoretically, internationalization can be conceptualized at several levels, including the world, region, nation, state, community, organization and individual. Internationalization was firstly commonly defined at the institutional level and in terms of a set of international activities. We focus on internationalization at the institutional level and consider “internationalization” as the processes of integrating an international and intercultural dimension into the teaching, research and services functions and does so from an international perspective into our university system. Internationalization can also be said to be an on-going, future-oriented, multi-dimensional, interdisciplinary, leadership-driven vision that involves many stakeholders working to change the internal dynamics of an institution to respond and adapt appropriately to an increasingly diverse, globally focused, ever-changing external environment. In accordance with Times Higher Education’s latest rankings analysis, UK universities have continued to lose ground on their global reputations ahead of Brexit, while several other European countries, Canada and China have all improved on metrics of internationalisation.


However, globalization is defined as the flow of technology, innovation, entrepreneurship, economy, knowledge, people, values and ideas … across border. Globalisation is seen as offering more opportunity for both developed and developing nations. The developed countries can benefit from a huge marketplace for their surplus producing power by selling goods, transferring technology, by setting up joint ventures etc., while the developing countries can acquire advanced technology and knowledge by offering new market opportunities and providing human resources and raw material. Two of the main bases of globalization are information and innovation. They are highly knowledge intensive. Internationalization and fast-growing information industries produce knowledge goods and services and enable knowledge creation. Globalization is positioned as part of a global environment in which the international dimension of higher education is becoming increasingly more important and significantly changing.


It has been widely recognized that with pressing challenges and impact imposed with current trends of anti-globalization, universities in the global higher education across the world must consolidate their global vision and institutionalize an international dimension to enable students to become global responsible leaders or full-fledged global competitors, and produce students capable to meet the complex challenges of globalization and secure the universities’ future. Globalization and internationalization are seen as different but related processes. We believe that though internationalization is essential, in the meantime the imbedding of “innovation”, “entrepreneurship” “global mindset” as our education ethos to enhance student journey in the teaching and learning strategy also need to be highlighted in the process of internationalization in global higher education.


We have been working hard in creating the distinction, uniqueness of New Beacon Lecture on West Meets East: Innovation, entrepreneurship, global-mindset, which attracts students from UK, US and China. The launch event of New Beacon Innovation College and New Beacon Entrepreneurship College along with the launch of New Beacon Lecture with students and academic of University of Texas at Dallas has been clear cases of exemplifying our considerable efforts.


Innovative and Entrepreneurial University

There is consensus that the global higher education is undergoing substantial change, which brings a greater emphasis on market forces to the process of educational strategic decision-making. In the era of globalization, universities have been challenged to become more innovative and entrepreneurial to adapt to a changing and more diverse external environment.


Triple helixes, which refer to the relationship among academia, government and industry, emerge with the rise of the university to equal status with the economy and polity. In globalization, the university has extended its mission from its original task of preservation, creation and dissemination of knowledge to more recently putting knowledge into practice and application. The university is undergoing a cultural transformation to play a significant role in the knowledge based society as an innovator, and/or an entrepreneur, promoting social and economic development. An entrepreneurial innovation university is more than the creation of interface mechanism between government, university and industry, which plays a diverse and dynamic role in university-pushed, government-pulled and corporate-led innovation.


An entrepreneurial innovation university has the following primary characteristics:


  • Innovative and entrepreneurial activities, innovation and entrepreneurship conference, forums, seminars and workshops, etc. are genuinely accepted and systematically supported.
  • Interface mechanisms exist, e.g. a technology transfer office, innovation lab, global entrepreneurship hub, innovation college, entrepreneurship college and corresponding achievements.
  • Significant numbers of staff members who can generate income to support university research and other activities in innovation and creativity.
  • Significant number of students who are willing to participate activities of innovation and entrepreneurship.
  • Infrastructures, signs and icons on campus related with innovation and entrepreneurship.


We are not only innovating education ethos of developing talents, but also we manage the university in an innovative way. We emphasize management innovation, concept innovation, system innovation, talent innovation and campus innovation.


Entrepreneurship is more than simply “starting a business.” Entrepreneurship is a process through which individuals identify opportunities, allocate resources and create value. This creation of value is often through the identification of unmet needs or through the identification of opportunities for change. Entrepreneurship is not simply an inherited trait but to significant extent can be learned and developed. Technological and social entrepreneurs are often more highly educated than the population average. The creation of a technology venture is the interactions of individual skills and disposition and the technological and the market characteristics. Entrepreneurs often see “problems” not only as challenges but also as opportunities, then take action to identify the solutions to those problems and the clients who will pay to have those problems solved.


However, innovation is about change – the word comes from the Latin and means changing, making new things. The term of “innovation” never stops shining when Joseph Schumpeter, an Austrian economist, coined the term in his book “Economic Development Theory” in 1912. Innovation is central to the wellbeing of societies, as well as to the health and growth of commercial companies. Innovation is found to be statistically three times more important to growth than other attributes or factors. Innovativeness, including a propensity to engage in new idea-generation and experimentation, is associated with performance and so is pro-activeness. It represents a great leverage in creating economic value. Innovation manifests itself in many different ways and is hazardous to predict, both in its timing and its consequences. The penalty for not innovating is enormous.


China Embracing Innovation

China embracing innovation is a strategic model of the wise who are seeking common development, sharing resources and win-win solution. It is a social innovation with Chinese characteristics. It refers to a novel and innovative solution to a complicated social problem. The solution is more distinctive, effective and efficient, better, equitable and sustainable than the existing approach. At the same time, it creates value for the benefit of society as a whole. The essential elements, also regarded as the four pillars of China’s embracing innovation theory, are as follows: a. embracing contradictions, b. heading with the times, c. seeking common ground while maintaining differences, and d. creating harmony and tolerance. These four pillars support and complementary to each other.


The value system of “embracing innovation” can be summarized into 4 “integrations”: an integration of planning economy with marketing economy; an integration of eastern and western management and philosophy; an integration of prescriptive strategies with emergent strategies and an integration of different cultures and civilizations. It is more reflected in the superstructure and ideological field. It contains two levels: a. it refers to concept and philosophy innovation, designed as a top guide to break the shackles of the spirit and helps problem-solving. It delivers social and political sustainability; b. it refers to innovation of technology and management, which balances the innovation strategy between indigenous innovation and imitative innovation and helps to build a solid economic foundation & sustainability. The two levels of “embracing innovation” are complementary to each other, which makes the “embracing innovation” a soul of national progress and world development, an inexhaustible power of the national prosperity and world peace.


The Building Blocks of the Four “Invisible Campuses”

Universities in global higher education are seeking to make their spaces and infrastructure more reflective of a work environment that places a premium on the education of innovation and entrepreneurship. Innovation College and Entrepreneurship College on campus provide an impetus of forward-thinking learning environments with students in-mind creating stronger opportunities for student-faculty-entrepreneur interaction, enhancing student journey, enhancing the academic ambiance and fostering success. We are passionately aiming at creating “FOUR invisible campuses”:


  • Innovation campus
  • Entrepreneurial campus
  • Inspirational campus
  • Bilingual campus


These four elements are inter-related with each other and support each other in the delivery of features, distinction, competitiveness and sustainability.


In the meantime, we are striving at building the “FOUR invisible bridges” as follows as well:


  • West meets East
  • Integration between knowledge and practice
  • Modernity meets History
  • Integration between humanity and science


We have launched New Beacon Lecture along with the unveiling Plaque of New Beacon Innovation College and New Beacon Entrepreneurship College. In the meantime, we are proud of working on New Beacon Campus with The Inspirational Learning Group, which is driven by co-founders, Ben and Michael Dyer who, between them, have a wealth of experience designing and running educational programmes across the UK. These no doubt are the important building blocks underpinning the creation of the four invisible campuses.