Ajou News

NEW President Choi interviews Quacquarelli Symonds Senior Vice President Ben Sowter at Asian Leadership Conference 2023

  • 2023-06-02
  • 4104


Ajou University President Choi Kee-choo talked with Senior Vice President Ben Sowter of Quacquarelli Symonds at the Asian Leadership Conference 2023.


Hosted by The Chosun Ilbo, a Korean daily newspaper, the Asian Leadership Conference marks its 14th run this year. This year's event was held from May 17 to 18 under the theme of “The Era of Upheaval: The Road to Collaboration and Innovation.” 


On the afternoon of May 18, President Choi talked with Senior Vice President Sowter for about an hour on "the role of the university in saving the world." Quacquarelli Symonds is a British company that specializes in the analysis of higher education institutions around the world. President Choi introduced Senior Vice President Sowter to the audience, and Sowter gave a presentation on how universities can help protect the world. The two then engaged in an interview and answered questions from the audience. The entire event was conducted in English.


Citing as an example the development of the COVID-19 vaccine, a feat accomplished in only 10 months and made possible through the participation of universities around the world, Senior Vice President Sowter said that universities are producing research outcomes and making innovations that save lives and make the world a better place. He explained that a focus of Quacquarelli Symonds in assessing universities is the discovery and recognition of universities that are capable or have potential in such research and innovation.


Sowter said, "Korean universities are more sensitive to change and make decisions faster compared to universities in other countries," but that "they are skewed toward American universities in joint research in an era where global cooperation is needed."


He said Korean universities needed cultural reform to move forward with global cooperation, and that they should move away from the ingrained competition among themselves and embrace sharing and cooperation.


President Choi sought Senior Vice President Sowter's views on strategies that individual universities could adopt in the face of the falling school-age population and rapidly changing internal and external conditions of universities. Sowter then answered questions from the audience about university rankings and competition, university assessment, deindividuation of universities, limits and opportunities of online education, and other topics.


One of the founding members of Quacquarelli Symonds, Senior Vice President Sowter is a higher education expert who has been involved in the QS World University Rankings for almost 20 years.


Other notable speakers at the Asian Leadership Conference 2023 included former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Prime Minister of Malaysia Mahathir Mohamad, former UN Secretary-General Ban Kimoon, 77th UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, KakaoPay CEO Shin Wonkeun, Green Climate Fund Advisor Jeffrey Lamb, and 25th Australian Prime Minister John Howard.