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Higher Education Reform: Looking Back – Looking Forward

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Edited By Pavel Zgaga, Ulrich Teichler, Hans G. Schuetze and Andrä Wolter

The central focus of this book is the concept of higher education reform in the light of an international and global comparative perspective. After decades of far-reaching reform, higher education around the world has profoundly changed and now has to face the challenges of the present. This volume takes a close look at these changes, the drivers of change, their effects and possible future scenarios. In their contributions the authors discuss a variety of basic concepts: learning and teaching in higher education; financing and quality assurance; governance change; massification vs. equity and equality; internationalization and mobility, the implementation of lifelong structures in higher education.
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Introductory Note

← 86 | 87Hans G. Schuetze

Extract

This section’s focus is on changing contexts and environments of universities and other non-university institutions. Taking up some of the themes that have been raised by the keynote addresses (Section A), authors in this section analyze and illustrate the effect of these changes on higher education in two regions, South East Asia and Europe.

Universities are not known to embrace change easily and fast, especially when it is imposed from the outside. Therefore ‘reforms’, targeted changes to the structures, processes and culture of universities, imposed by governments, are often resisted or only reluctantly implemented by the universities, especially if there are no incentives that would make the change attractive to institutions or staff. As the former president of a large Canadian research university recently noted “(universities) relish the past. They’re built on the history of centuries. They pride themselves on not changing. Scholars are taught by scholars who were taught by scholars. Teaching methods and cultural values have been handed down from generation to generation to generation” (quoted by Charbonneau 2013).

Adversity to change is not specific to universities, however, but inherent in most organizations, especially when they have long pedigrees and traditions. Universities, although a special type of organization, were never true ‘ivory towers’ but a distinct part of the society by which they were supported, respected as independent institutions sui generis, and seen as the most important institutions of knowledge preservation, interpretation and creation. Over the last two centuries they were also seen, notwithstanding...

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