Comparative Reflections on Poland and Norway
Edited By Marek Kwiek and Peter Maassen
Chapter 1: Higher Education Diversity in Europe. Peter Maassen
Chapter 1 Higher Education Diversity in Europe Peter Maassen Introduction From the 1950s on, Europe has been a continent with a strong focus on equality of opportunities, and a negative attitude towards the use of the marketplace and competition in public sector governance. This applies also to higher education, where like in the rest of society, trust in the government was in general larger than trust in market forces. While this applies in the first place to continental Europe, also in the UK it has not been the marketplace, but first and foremost government intervention that has created the British higher education systems as we know them today. This starting point is of importance for understanding the developments with respect to higher education diversity in Europe. From a governmental policy perspective diversity in European higher education has not been linked primarily to student demand or student characteristics per se, but rather to structural features of higher education systems. In many European countries differences between students have to a large extent been neglected if not denied in national policies, and the underlying ideological driving force for the governance, organization, and (public) funding of higher education have for long been equality and equity at all relevant levels. Amongst other things, the formation of elite institutions, the selection of students on the basis of merit, and in many countries the charging of tuition fees, have been taboos. What is of relevance here is that over the last ten years cracks have appeared in...
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