In the 1930s, Ford's River Rouge plant was the biggest integrated manufacturing facility in the world, employing 100,000 workers. Today Ford has a 'constellation' of facilities all over the world. There are signs that universities might go the same way, aided by virtual networks. However, there are also strong reasons why they might not.
First, top students want to go to prestigious universities and meet like-minded people.
Second, nations provide funding and expect something in return; they will resist any loss of control over the higher education sector in their backyard.
Third, a global university will require a great deal of money. At the moment, it is too early to tell whether US schools, or some of the newly funded schools in Asia and the Middle East, will have enough money to create the first 'megaversities'.
College goes global
William R Brody
Foreign Affairs, March/April 2007