In recent decades, higher education across the world has restructured itself to meet the needs of global competitiveness and embraced the knowledge economy ( Krause-Jensen and Garsten 2014 ). Through embracing ‘information technology
Supporting students’ experiences through praxis
Heidi A. Smith
a new instrumentalism or 'Much Ado about Nothing'?
The purpose of this article is to explore the development of qualifications frameworks as a key element in the Bologna Process, which aims to develop a European Higher Education Area by 2010. By setting up descriptors of learning outcomes, a European qualifications framework is intended as an instrument that enables Europe to coordinate and exchange qualifications. Furthermore, the article analyses the proposal of a national qualifications framework in Norway and institutional responses to it. Despite general support for the idea of a framework, the analysis shows that the institutions question the possibility of a qualifications framework that fits all types of educational programmes.
With reference to curriculum theory the article concludes that the idea of a qualifications framework based on measurable learning outcomes represents a turn towards an instrumental curriculum approach in higher education, in contrast to a traditional curriculum approach which foregrounds disciplinary content and its mastery. Drawing on institutional theory the article also questions the possible impact of qualifications frameworks in higher education.
Focusing on Singapore's 'Global Schoolhouse' project, this article discusses how efforts to transform Singapore into a 'world class' knowledge economy entail changes to the status of citizenship in Singapore. The project of wooing top foreign universities to Singapore is permeated with an entrepreneurial ideal of Singapore as the 'Boston of the East'. Since Singaporeans tend to be viewed by the Singapore government as particularly risk averse compared to Westerners and other Asians, the government has increasingly relied on 'foreign talent' to provide entrepreneurial dynamism to Singapore. The expansion of high-quality university education in Singapore serves as a vehicle of this 'foreign talent' policy as much as it accommodates the needs of local students for higher education. The ensuing questions about citizenship in Singapore's knowledge economy are finally discussed in terms of a differentiated 'entrepreneurial citizenship'.
Roar Høstaker and Agnete Vabø
Research and higher education are, to a greater extent, being governed and evaluated by other than fellow scholars. These changes are discussed in relation to Gilles Deleuze's notion of a transition from 'societies of discipline' to what he called 'societies of control'. This involves a shift from pyramidshaped organisations, built upon authority, to a set of lateral controls and hybrid power structures. This theory and its logic are compared with other theories that have been used to explain such changes in higher education: New Public Management, new modes of knowledge production, academic capitalism, trust and the role of higher education in social reproduction. The development of lateral controls is analysed in relation to the de-coupling of the state as the guarantor of academic quality, the changing status of the academic disciplines and scientific employees, managerialism, the new modularised study programmes and the changing position of external stakeholders. The article, drawing on empirical studies from higher education in Norway, suggests possible affects of the change to 'societies of control' on research, teaching and learning in higher education.
Helga A. Welsh
After the two German states unified in 1990, the tendency to transplant West German practices to the former East Germany was particularly pronounced in areas where systemic differences and perceived inefficiency met ideological reservations. The higher education system was among them. Comprehensive institutional, policy, and personnel transfer from West to East ensued. Starting in the mid 1990s after many failed initiatives, however, new policies were launched in the unified Germany. Reinforced by feedback from institutional and policy transfer to the East, factors such as Europeanization and globalization empowered newly formed advocacy coalitions to advance a reform agenda. Competition and performance seeded other ideas, prominent among them diversification, internationalization, autonomy, and accountability. Existing institutions and firmly rooted traditions still condition and limit change, and reforming the reforms has become commonplace. Differentiation among Länder and higher education institutions has become more pronounced, adding to the variety of outcomes. In ways unforeseen in 1990, some areas of the German higher education system have seen paradigmatic change, while others have survived relatively unscathed. The recalibration of the system continues, and reform pressure persists.
The Ethnography of the University Initiative (EUI) joins a long history of critique, challenge and transformation of higher education. EUI courses are an important site for the creation of non-traditional narratives in which students challenge 'business-as-usual' in higher education. For under-represented students, this includes inquiry and analysis of the racial status quo at the University. In this article, I provide a student's perspective on EUI through my own experiences with EUI research as both an undergraduate and later graduate student investigating race and racism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (U of I). Using ethnographic methods and drawing on critical race theory, I provide two examples of EUI research that critiqued the University's management of race. The first example is a collaborative ethnography of the Brown versus Board of Education Commemoration at U of I – a project that I joined as an undergraduate (Abelmann et al. 2007); and the second is my own dissertation on 'racial risk management', a project that emerged from my encounter with EUI. I discuss both projects as examples of Critical Race Ethnography, namely works based on empirical research that challenge institutions' racial composition, structure and climate.
This interdisciplinary paper is about applying Adult Education methods of learning and teaching to higher education. I argue that higher education students need to be stimulated via interactive methods that improve their motivation and lead them to question the value system/s that exist around them. A Freirean approach as used in the teaching of Adult Literacy and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) was applied to a group of 'elite' students at the University of Birmingham who were taking a language foundation course. As a sociolinguist and ESOL practitioner from a black perspective, I argue that the understanding of concepts of language and racism, imperialism and social class can best be facilitated using such an approach. Taking groups of students through this learning journey is challenging for higher education practitioners and the results add a relatively new dimension to the collective reflection on learning and teaching in higher education today.
In the latter half of the twentieth century, higher education systems around the world expanded and the number of higher education institutions increased. This expansion is often referred to as a massification of the higher education system ( Trow
the cases of Denmark, Norway and Sweden
Bettina Dahl, Eirik Lien, and Åsa Lindberg-Sand
The aim of the Bologna Process is to make higher education systems across Europe more transparent. It is crucial for this purpose that confusion concerning the characteristics of the systems should be replaced by conformity. But, as we will show, conformity brought about at one level may create confusion at another. The curricular aspect of the Bologna Process focuses on a shift to outcome-based and student-centred programmes. Syllabi should now be based on intended learning outcomes (ILOs) and should be adjusted to general level descriptors for qualifications. However, the Bologna documents give no explicit recommendations about the use of grading scales. In Denmark, Norway and Sweden, the reforms of higher education induced by the Bologna process included a change of grading scales and referred to the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS). Through these three case studies, we describe and analyse the political process and argumentation underpinning the decisions to change the grading scales in each country. This includes the problems, both experienced and perceived, with the old grading scales, the various national assessment traditions and the new grading scales. The purpose of the change was not the same in each country, but the ongoing adaptation to a seven-step grading scale was thought to ease the international recognition of the national grades, making mobility easier. Though a seven-step grading scale was implemented in both Danish and Norwegian higher education and also by an increasing number of Swedish higher education institutions, the translation of grades only works on a superficial level. The grading scales designed are fundamentally different as classification systems; they attach different numerical values to grades with identical labels and they relate differently to norm- and standards-referenced judgements of learning outcomes. The information condensed in similar grades from the three countries cannot be equated. The vision of simple transparency turns out to be an illusion.
This summary article situates the articles in this collection within the historical unfolding of the commodification and neoliberalisation of higher education. From the 1970s to the present, the article suggests that commodification and neoliberalisation are two social forces that in many nations are difficult to disentangle. It is important to see these forces as analytically distinct as they set up contradictions whilst transforming higher education in many nations in the world. While commodification begins the process of turning university programmes and degrees into commodities that a consuming public buys, neoliberalism puts pressure on universities to document that people are getting value for the money they spend. Neoliberalism also questions how we measure the quality of a product. Together these forces create an increasingly contradictory space where faculty work becomes very conflicted. The article then goes on to situate each of the articles in this contradictory university space. Finally the article discusses some ways faculty can move beyond resistance and collusion and find ways to reclaim higher education.