The Worldwide Transformation of Higher Education: Volume 9

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Table of contents

(18 chapters)

Higher education is ripe for comparative study. Currently it is the sector of education at the cutting edge of the education revolution, in terms of worldwide expansion of undergraduate and graduate enrollments, and new innovations in organizational arrangements, governance, and funding strategies. Once taking a backseat to the comparative study of primary and secondary schooling, there is now renewed attention on the quality and future role of the university. The rise of super-research universities, world rankings of universities, interest in higher education as an engine of economic development and other related topics have all converged to reinvigorate comparative study of higher education.

The realities of access to higher education changed dramatically within the last century. The second half of the twentieth century more particularly was characterized by a worldwide increase in access to higher education institutions that proved to be the main force disrupting the traditional organization of academia. This international trend is due to the several intertwined dynamics: demographic, economic and political pressures.

The use of national and international rankings of universities is increasing rapidly. Dill and Soo (2005), who take a generally positive view of university league tables, review the performance of some leading examples of the genre. They conclude that “Our review of the five leading commercial university league tables from Australia, Canada, the UK, and the US suggests that the definitions of academic quality used in these tables are converging…It would be valuable to extend the analysis to league tables developed in Europe, Asia, and Latin America to see the extent to which a common construct of academic quality is becoming truly international” (Dill & Soo, 2005, pp. 525–526).

Fig. 1 shows a conceptual framework describing several core elements of corruption in higher education, taking into consideration the complex inter-relationships among educational institutions, national and local government agencies, external agencies, and stakeholder communities. It is not meant to be an exhaustive representation but rather to show key general elements in the complex process of corruption in education, more generally, and higher education, in general. It represents a conceptual synthesis based on my own work on sector-wide approaches (SWAPs) to education planning (Weidman, 2001) and educational reform in the formerly Soviet style economic and education system of Mongolia (Weidman & Bat-Erdene, 2002) as well as the typologies of education corruption by Chapman (2002) and Rumyantseva (2005). This framework also reflects themes appearing in many reports and articles that, taken collectively, provide a detailed description of corruption at all levels of the educational systems in the E&E region (USAID, 2005; Anderson & Photos, 2003; Asian Development Bank, 2004; Broers, 2005; Levin & Satarov, 2000; Rostiashvili, 2004; World Bank, 2006a) as well as other parts of the world (Bray, 2003; Heyneman, 2004; Tanaka, 2001; Hallak & Poisson, 2007; Meier, 2004; Meier & Griffin, 2005).

Starting in the 1960s, university systems around the world began to undergo a variety of drastic changes that would forever alter higher education. The spread of social movements were fueled by anti-war protests, demands for civil rights, and new forms of economic and political organization (Lipset, 1993). In terms of changes in universities, students demanded greater educational access and equal opportunities. A worldwide logic of inclusiveness increasingly affected national political and educational outcomes, including transformations in multiple dimensions of the status of women in the polity and in the educational system. This chapter focuses on the emergence and expansion of women's studies curricula in universities throughout the world, treating this unexpected development as a further manifestation of the globalization of a logic of inclusiveness.

For the longest period of its history, the university was the guardian and transmitter – not the producer – of knowledge. This relatively recent change of transmitting canonical knowledge and generating new knowledge is normally associated with Wilhelm von Humboldt. Other highly influential university models were provided by France and Great Britain. The association of certain types of universities with particular countries is a strong indicator of the intricate link between nation-state and education. Hence, the history of tertiary education and its elite institutions, the research universities, must be considered in relation with a sea change in educational history – the gradual emergence of national education systems. Only under the conditions of the by now standard form of organizing modern societies as nation-states did education become a central institution (Meyer, Boli, Thomas, & Ramirez, 1997) collapsing individual perfectibility and national progress. The nationally redefined university was integrated into the education system as its keystone while also being considered the motor of societal development. From a social history perspective, the latter aspect in particular indicates the pragmatic (training professionals, imparting military and technical knowledge, etc.) and symbolic expectations, “myths” of the nation-state that have been so aptly described and analyzed in numerous macro-sociological neo-institutionalist studies (Meyer, Ramirez, & Soysal, 1992; Meyer et al., 1997; Ramirez & Boli, 1987). In a macro-phenomenological perspective, the term “myth” is used to denote a fundamental change in the self-description of European society which since the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries no longer views itself as consisting of separate collectivities divided from each other by social origin – as was the case under feudal conditions – with each collectivity providing itself the necessary education for its members or being provided for by others in the case of neediness. Instead, as a result of a number of material and immaterial changes, society now defines the individual as its key unit, with the nation being consequently the aggregate of individuals and not of collectivities and the state redefined as the guardian of the nation. This conception might be taken as a kind of overlapping area which includes different approaches, such as Michel Foucault's concept of the disciplinary society (Foucault, 1977), Balibar and Wallerstein's (1991) deliberations on the relation between race, class, and nation, and Benedict Anderson's (1991) description of nations as imagined communities. All these studies could be taken as sharing the notion of “constructedness” (cf. Berger & Luckmann, 1972) of modern society with the neo-institutionalist perspective. The concept of a “world polity” which encompasses the “myths” society is based on, the overall notion of a cognitive culture, which takes Max Weber's concept of rationality as a point of departure, is identified as the basis of isomorphic change in the organizational structure of modern education systems (cf. Baker & Wiseman, 2006). However, the strong emphasis on international, world system embeddedness of nation-states and their education systems is not to be taken as a unidirectional dependence on external forces. While modern nation-states originate from and remain tied to international dynamics and developments, they are conceived as unique entities. For most of their history, modern nation-states have been preoccupied with making themselves distinct from each other. Thus, while international competition has always been present, looking abroad traditionally meant reworking, adapting, and reshaping what was imported, or borrowed (Halpin & Troyna, 1995; Steiner-Khamsi, 2004). This is true for education as well as for other areas of society.

The history of Soviet higher education was closely intertwined with the broader histories of Soviet-era general education, with science policies and research institutions, and with the various models of political economy that were embraced and then altered between 1917 and the collapse of the U.S.S.R. in 1991. Such close bureaucratic control and tight policy coordination were inherent in the state socialist higher education system that allowed no private institutions or alternative models to function (Chanbarisov, 1988), and was arguably the source of Soviet higher education's greatest strengths as well as the cause of its greatest weaknesses. State support and massive public investment meant that Soviet higher education witnessed some of the most rapid and truly impressive quantitative and institutional growth in the world (Yelyutin, 1959). In other words, Russian and then Soviet higher education grew from its modest domestic influence and marginal global status in the early 1900s to become one of the largest and most comprehensive systems of higher education and research in the postwar era.

Globalization has become such an all-encompassing concept that it is almost meaningless. However, most scholars recognize that the term conveys in some manner or form a shrinkage of time and space such that events happening in one part of the world have the potential to impact other locales (Giddens, 1999; Held, 1991). Beyond this most basic meaning, it is hard to find any agreement on what the term actually conveys or when in fact the world actually entered a global age (Morrow & Torres, 2000). Given the vagueness of globalization as a concept, the challenge then is to be as clear as possible in discussing various forces related to globalization that may impact a particular phenomenon under study. In the case of this chapter, the phenomenon of interest is university transformation in the developing world.

The basic structure of Korea's formal education system is 6-3-3-4. This school system, which was established soon after its independence from Japan after World War II, has not been changed very much until recently. Primary education covers grades 1–6. Kindergarten has not been a part of the official school system until now, although making it a part of the pubic school system has been under discussion for some years. In the secondary education sector, there are two levels of schools: middle schools covering grades 7–9, and high schools covering grades 10–12. After 12 years of formal education, students advance to higher education. Typically, undergraduate degree (B.A. or B.S.) takes four years.

Along with the “reform and open door” policy launched in the late 1970s, China has experienced an annual average GDP growth rate of 9.8% between 1978 and 2002 (Hu, 2003, October 19). China's economy system has also gone through a fundamental transition from a central planning system to a socialist free market economy. To cope with the booming economy and radical social changes, the higher education system of China has been undergoing a process of expansion with marketization (World Bank, 1997).

Worldwide systems of higher education are experiencing intense and unprecedented transformation, both in its operation and in their relationship to governments. The adoption of neo-liberal, free-market economic policies in the 1980s, and the consequent deregulation of education has impacted many systems in Europe, North and South America, and Asia (including New Zealand and Australia) (Olssen, 2002). Many of these nations have restructured their systems of public education in an attempt to acquire relative autonomy and to assume responsibility as individual institutions. As a result of deregulation and liberalization, the trends of individual institutions are to become more competitive and accountable by creating an overall market mechanism within the education system (Giroux, 2002; Dale, 2001). The issuance of educational loans by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) supports these trends. In general, the IMF and WB serve as a support mechanism for neo-liberalism in Latin America, Africa, and Eastern Europe by the promotion of market mechanisms which effect increases in private investment in education and accountability in higher education institutions (Chou, 2003).

The relationship between soft power and international education is not a new phenomenon. Students have studied abroad since the origin of the modern university in the Middle Ages and have been influenced by what they learned and experienced. Faculty members and researchers have also crossed borders for millennia, and knowledge has always been international in scope. Indeed, medieval universities were international institutions, bringing together students and faculty from many European countries and operating in a single language, Latin (Haskins, 2002). Through its strong emphasis on theology and canon law, the medieval university served as a bastion of power for the Catholic Church. The Jesuit mission of spreading the faith through education was an important aspect of the church's soft power. Historically, the Jesuits recognized education as a powerful force and established schools and universities around the world to spread knowledge and Roman Catholicism (O’Malley, Bailey, Harris, & Kennedy, 1999). Missionaries from various other Christian denominations were also actively involved in higher education overseas (Ashby, 1966; Lutz, 1971).

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International Perspectives on Education and Society
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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