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The Globalisation Challenge for European Higher Education

Convergence and Diversity, Centres and Peripheries


The last decade has marked European higher education with particular dynamics. Today, after a decade of «connected» policy, national systems look much more convergent but new questions and dilemmas are emerging: about the nature and quality of higher education, about the real impact of recent reforms in different countries, and about higher education's future. The book examines the impact of Europe-wide and global developments on national higher education systems. The authors try in particular to place upfront issues of convergence and diversity, of equity and of the relationship between centres and peripheries in higher education. The book is an outcome of research collaboration between six institutes which developed a EuroHESC research proposal on the consequences of expanded and differentiated higher education systems.
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From System Expansion to System Contraction. Access to Higher Education in Poland


Marek Kwiek


The chapter explores access to higher education in Poland when demand-driven educational expansion is changing into educational contraction driven by demographic factors. It combines a theoretical framework with substantial original data analysis. The empirical evidence comes from educational statistics and statistical demographic projections. Educational expansion in Poland in 1995–2010 is related to four major dimensions: age, gender, sector (public/private) and status (full- and part-time). In addition, a section about access related to the intergenerational social mobility in Poland is based on microdata analysis of the EU SILC dataset (European Union Survey on Income and Living Conditions) – to explore the relative mobility of Polish society in Europe (in terms of educational attainment levels and occupational groups). The chapter contributes to academic discussions in four areas: global comparative research on private higher education (and related public/private dynamics), research on inter-sectoral and intra-sectoral differentiation of higher education, international comparative research on post-communist European higher education systems, and international comparative research on social stratification. The chapter refers to Poland and several post-communist European higher education systems which combine two features: a vast expansion following the fall of communism after 1989 and sharply falling demographics in the next two decades.

Key words: higher education contraction, demographics, equity and access, selectivity, Polish universities

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