Massification and Diversity: Has the Expansion of Higher Education Led to a Changing Composition of the Student Body? European and German Evidence
One of the most important changes in higher education after the Second World War has been the massive expansion of social demand for and participation in higher education – in Europe as well as on other continents. Many countries show growing entry rates, comprising sometimes more than half of the age cohort. Many debates in higher education research and policy focus on the structural and institutional consequences of this development, such as further differentiation or diversification in national higher education systems at different levels – e.g. in the provision of programs, courses and degrees or in the structure of the system, between or within institutions (Trow 1974, Guri-Rosenblit, Sebkova, and Teichler 2007, Teichler 2008). The theory is widespread that the expansion and massification of higher education have been (or will be) accompanied by a process of differentiation in different forms. Expansion and differentiation are often considered as complementary paths in the development of higher education (Windolf 1990). Or, as Peter Scott wrote: “growth is now conceived of in terms of ‘difference’” (Scott 2015: 43).
There are several assumptions about the corresponding results of the expansion. A first assumption is that the rapid growth of higher education must have led to a more heterogeneous or diverse composition of the student body in terms of background, talents, motives and expectations, and that differentiation of institutions, programs, courses, degrees or learning provisions might be an appropriate response to this development. A second basic assumption is that the process of growth in student participation...
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