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Hanne Tange

The article builds on an empirical study of knowledge practices in international, interdisciplinary MA education, foregrounding the role of academic staff in identifying and explicating academic norms to students recruited from different subject areas and institutions. A central theme is transition, which refers to the state of liminality that postgraduates can experience when new to a discipline, institution and sociocultural context. I argue for lecturers as ‘transition managers’ who may ease students’ transfer into an unfamiliar academic culture. This argument is explored in an analysis of interview data collected from four MA courses, which suggests that lecturers’ transition management involves an awareness of classroom diversity, an acceptance of responsibility for academic socialisation and the development of new pedagogic practices.

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Capacity-building projects in African higher education

Issues of coloniality in international academic collaboration

Hanne Kirstine Adriansen and Lene Møller Madsen

This article studies issues of coloniality in so-called capacity-building projects between universities in Africa and Scandinavia. Even fifty years after independence, the African higher education landscape is a product of the colonial powers and subsequent uneven power relations, as argued by a number of researchers. The uneven geography and power of knowledge exist also between countries that were not in a direct colonial relationship, which the word coloniality implies. Based on interviews with stakeholders and on our own experiences of capacity-building projects, this article examines how such projects affect teaching, learning, curriculum, research methodology and issues of quality enhancement. We analyse the dilemmas and paradoxes involved in this type of international collaboration and conclude by offering ways to decolonise capacity-building projects.

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Penny Welch and Susan Wright

In this issue of Learning and Teaching: The International Journal of Higher Education in the Social Sciences, academics from Denmark, Chile, the United States and the United Kingdom analyse capacity-building projects between European and African universities, the experiences of mobile academics returning to their home country, the role of tutors on international interdisciplinary MA programmes, the contemporary relevance of classical and medieval approaches to education and levels of information literacy among undergraduates.

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Getting medieval on education

Integrating classical theory and medieval pedagogy in modern liberal arts classes

Jonathan Klauke

This article explores the historical importance of argument and self-learning within the structure of liberal arts education and how these can be applied to the design of university and community college general education classes to help students develop skills in effective communication, critical thinking and self-learning. Research in classical and medieval theories of education, the liberal arts and pedagogy are used to clarify the purpose of higher education (teaching students how to learn without the aid of a teacher) and explore historical and modern pedagogies designed to achieve that purpose. A case study from an introductory history course designed based on medieval pedagogies provides examples of implementing these pedagogies, as well as assessment from three years of teaching it in both community college and university classrooms.

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Intellectual endogamy in the university

The neoliberal regulation of academic work

Ana Luisa Muñoz-García

This article aims to analyse the multiple ways in which the neoliberal regulation of knowledge is negotiated by returning Chilean scholars. The data gathered suggest the construction of knowledge is highly regulated by a principle of intellectual endogamy. Intellectual endogamy is characterised by conservatism, reflected in a lack of diversity in research themes and problems and maintained by a peer-review system that controls scholars’ access to research funds. However, it is also characterised by instrumentalism, which is reflected in the requirements for obtaining research funds, such as publications in indexed journals and discourses of efficiency and productivity. Both facets engender a neoliberal regulation of academic work. This research encourages an expansion of the conversation about how academic mobility affects knowledge construction.

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Stephen Thornton

Information literacy, the concept most associated with inculcating the attributes necessary to behave in a strategic, thoughtful and ethical manner in the face of a superfluity of information, has been part of the information specialist scene for many years. As the United Kingdom’s QAA benchmark statements for Politics and International Relations highlight, many of the competences associated with this concept are vital in the honourable struggle to become a successful graduate of those disciplines. This article presents a longitudinal study of a survey used to expose the information literacy levels of two groups of first-year Politics/IR students at a British university and, using the logic of ‘most similar design’, make informed inferences about the level of students’ information literacy on coming into tertiary education.

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Laura Louise Sarauw, Sintayehu Kassaye Alemu, and Penny Welch

Macfarlane, B. (2017), Freedom to Learn: The Threat to Student Academic Freedom and Why It Needs to Be Reclaimed London: Routledge, 140 pp., ISBN 978-0-415-72916-1

P. Zgaga, U. Teichler, H. G. Schuetze and A. Wolter (eds) (2015), Higher Education Reform: Looking Back and Looking Forward Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 431 pp., ISBN 978-3-631-66275-5

D. Pecorari and P. Shaw (eds) (2019), Student Plagiarism in Higher Education: Reflections on Teaching Practice London: Routledge, 180 pp., ISBN 978-1-138-05516-2

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Global inequality and policy selectivity in the periphery

The case of Ukrainian reforms in higher education

Viktoriia Muliavka

Despite the diversity of socio-political and economic contexts, educational transformations in post-socialist states have some common trends: orientation towards the ‘West’ and denial of the socialist past; marketisation of higher education through the introduction and extension of paid services, as well as promotion of competition for public funding; economisation of higher education via adjustment to the amount of economic resources and labour market demand. In this article, I analyse how those trends have been reflected in political practices and public discourses in the case of Ukrainian higher education reforms since the ‘Euromaidan’ events in 2013–2014. The research shows that, in the Ukrainian case, concepts of orientation towards the ‘West’, marketisation and economisation of higher education are the key elements of local opinion makers’ political rhetoric that play a crucial role in the process of legitimisation of neoliberal reforms in higher education.

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Introduction

Higher education reform in the ‘periphery’

Mariya Ivancheva and Ivo Syndicus

In recent years, an increasing body of work has addressed the ‘corporatisation’ and ‘commodification’ of universities, as well as higher education sector reforms more broadly. This work refers mostly to the traditional core hubs of higher education, such as the Anglo-American research university. In the emerging anthropology of higher education policy, accounts of the implementation and negotiation of reforms in more ‘peripheral’ contexts often remain absent. This collection of articles addresses this absence by focusing on the interplay between narratives of global policy reform and the processes of their implementation and negotiation in different contexts in the academic ‘periphery’. Bringing together work from a range of settings and through different lenses, the special issue provides insights into the common processes of reform that are underway and how decisions to implement certain reforms reaffirm rather than challenge peripheral positions in higher education.

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Reforming universities in the Middle East

Trends and contestations from Egypt and Jordan

Daniele Cantini

This article addresses the core-periphery nexus by looking at some of the reform packages proposed in the 2000s in these two pivotal countries in the Middle East, Egypt and Jordan, as well as the resistances they generated. These reform packages include internationalisation and privatisation policies, as well as World Bank–sponsored programmes intended to enhance the higher education sector. These programmes are marked by a high degree of isomorphism with global trends: they belong to an unquestioned centre, with peripheries as receiving points of policies elaborated elsewhere. In this article, I examine some of the resistances they were met with in Egypt and Jordan and show how their translations were shaped by the logics of the local contexts so that they were rarely implemented. Looking at post–Arab Spring developments, the article reflects on the continuity of reform packages amidst political turmoil, and the ways in which these reforms are altering or reinforcing processes of peripheralisation.