It depends on how nations are integrated on it. And in this point, higher education can play an essential role, through generating the conditions that allow a favorable incorporation. Globalization offers many new opportunities to the countries that know how to make use of them; whereas, it deepens and widens the economic, financial, scientific and technological inequalities for those countries incapable of benefiting from it. The advisability, quality and equity of educational systems, particularly of higher education systems, determine, to a great extent, the place that each country has on the new international scene and their possibilities to achieve a beneficial inclusion.
In order for higher education to fulfill that important role, it needs profound innovations, to shake the foundations of our educational systems, still so linked to the tradition. Those innovations cannot be merely episodic: they should be part of a permanent and continuous process. As a result, we should challenge our imagination and reconsider the objectives, missions and functions of the higher education institutions, always having in mind the need to have also a higher education imbued with values, aware of its ethical and social obligations and at the disposal of the promotion of freedom, tolerance, justice, respect to human rights, environmental conservation and peace culture. In short, contemporary higher education should be at the disposal of the model proclaimed by the United Nations to guide the direction of society on the XXI century: the sustainable human development.
Within the key elements to integrate ourselves favorably on the open markets of global economy, there is the considerable improvement of our competitiveness and productive capacity. Both include knowledge, technologies, use of information, abilities and innovation; they mean improving the quality, advisability and equity of our educational and scientific-technological systems and the formation of our high level human resources. The Nordic countries understood this early enough, specially Finland, Ireland and the south-east Asian countries, and they started investing copiously on their people, meaning, on their educational systems. In addition, they increased the percentage of the GDP destined to Research and Development.