Partly out of curiosity, and partly because I often hear academics in Southeast Asia talk about their desire to “engage” internationally and to raise the stature of their respective universities internationally, I decided to see how different History faculties/departments present themselves to the world on the Internet, or to use another term, I wanted to see what their “online presence” was like.
I started with the National University of Singapore.
The style of the History Department’s page didn’t excite me all that much (I think the Southeast Asian Studies Department at NUS has a more up-to-date web page), but it’s thorough and all of the right information is there.
You can click on faculty names and find out about the person and what her/his publications are. This is very similar to what many “Western” universities do.
Then I checked Ateneo University.
They have developed a very unique style of web page, but I have to admit that I found it quite annoying to try to use.
Also, while there is a “faculty roster,” it doesn’t tell you anything about the faculty members’ publications, but it does tell you where they got their degrees.
Chulalongkorn University’s web page informs you that you can study history at the graduate level.
But when you click on the link it just shows you the classes that you need to take.
And when I checked the Thai-language page, this is what I saw.
Then when you look at the University of Malaya web site, the Ateneo and Chulalongkorn web pages start to look very good by comparison, because the U of M site doesn’t provide any information.
Nor does the University of Indonesia site. It just tells you that a history faculty “exists” there. Oh, and should the University of Indonesia be worried that when you do a Google search for “university of indonesia history faculty” the first record that Google shows is for “Eric Tagliacozzo – Cornell University Department of History”?
Then finally there is Vietnam National University in Hanoi. The English-language page has some general information about how some of its faculty members have received various awards.
And the Vietnamese-language page has. . . absolutely nothing. [04 Dec 2013 update: The above link now redirects you to this fully-functioning web page. It looks like the Faculty of History must have developed its own web page and that the university web page was not linking to it, but it is now.]
To be honest, I was really surprised to see how bad these web pages are (other than the NUS page, which is fine).
In the current “Internet age” one’s online presence is incredibly important. And of course there are many universities in “the West” that have bad web pages (including one that I am closely connected to), but for universities that are eager to be “international” (and some of the above universities definitely fit into that category), there is nothing more important than having a strong online presence.
This idea of an online presence or “branding” might still be new in Southeast Asia, but it’s 2013 and this has been important for a long time already in the fast-paced world of the Internet age. So put yourselves online!!