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Yann Lebeau and David Mills

After years of neglect, there is renewed international interest in higher education in sub-Saharan Africa. Comparative projects have been launched on a continental scale, looking at the socio-economic relevance of higher education, often with the aim of reviving failing institutions. A new 'transformation' policy paradigm has replaced a previously dominant rhetoric of 'crisis'. Promoted by the major funders, this discourse has been adopted by many within African governments and university administrations. We argue that such interventions are possible because of the particular post-colonial historical ties among African, European and American academies. They represent the latest stage of donor involvement in African universities, and are made possible by the outward-looking perspectives of many African scholars. Yet is this latest paradigm shift leading to real changes in research capacity and teaching quality within African institutions? Is it informed by specific institutional needs? We compare research and development projects led by donors with those led by academics themselves. Attempts by international donors to invigorate locally relevant research capacity are limiting the re-emergence of academic autonomy. Academic research 'collaborations', especially those led by European and American scholars, fare little better.'

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Davydd J. Greenwood

This article summarises/analyses the higher education reforms proposed by the 'Spellings Commission' in the United States on quality assurance and accountability, and draws attention to the links I see between these reform proposals and the Bologna Process. I trace a brief history of the Spellings Commission and analyse it in order to produce questions for discussion about the 'parallel' processes of reform in higher education in the U.S. and Europe.

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Instead of a Defence

Thoughts on the Humanities at Home and Abroad

Peter Vale

The place and future of the Humanities is under scrutiny in many parts of the world. The diminution in the university commenced in the 1980s with the rise of free-market thinking associated with Thatcher and Reagan. It was the end of the Cold War, however, with the rise of globalisation that control was tightened in higher education under the guise of increased freedom. The increasing emphasis on utilitarian forms of knowledge needed for economic growth further imperilled the Humanities. In South Africa, upon which the argument draws for illustration, policy-makers paid increasing lip service to academic freedom and institutional autonomy while directing policy interest and resources away from the Humanities.

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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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How has mobility become central to the EU’s idea of doctoral education?

A brief overview of the history of a policy idea

Pavel Zgaga

This article addresses why and how mobility has become central to the EU’s idea of doctoral education, aiming to reconstruct, in a historical perspective, the gradual conceptualisation of mobility as a policy idea. This process began with the discussion of academic mobility in the 1970s, when the European Communities had as yet no responsibility in the field of education, which resulted in the Erasmus Programme. In the late 1990s, the Bologna Process strengthened the discussion, substantially contributing to a consideration of mobility as a policy tool and the establishment of a mobility strategy. In connection with the EU research policy, the integration of doctoral studies into the Bologna Process is specifically analysed. The article concludes with some open questions, including the potentially negative consequences of the instrumentalisation of higher education for the concept of mobility.

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Marte Mangset

British universities are known among the other Bologna countries not to have adjusted fully to the new common three-tier degree structure. Is it the case that British higher educational concerns are different from Continental concerns? A study of recent developments in two British graduate schools of history shows that a three-tier study structure was generalised in British universities 15 years ahead of Bologna as the one-year taught master's degree gained ground. This article argues that there were similar concerns related to massification and to an increasing demand for efficiency and employability in British, French and Norwegian higher education policy. These common concerns have been met by common reform measures in the three countries: a transition from individual and unstructured postgraduate degrees to structured and skill-oriented taught degrees. In contrast to the situation in other European countries, the Bologna Process has not represented a legitimate framework for higher education policy in Britain. However, British universities have proved susceptible both to national policy measures and to foreign university models. If the Bologna Process gradually appears as a strong and unified model, the British universities might not be immune to change.

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The Bologna Process

a voluntary method of coordination and marketisation?

Ole Henckel and Susan Wright

Ole Henckel is writing his PhD thesis on the relationship between national and European higher education policy as well as the history of the Bologna process. The aim of this interview was to learn about the historical background to the Bologna process, which interests were involved and which were excluded, what their motivations were, why they thought it was a good idea, and what they were trying to achieve? As the interview progressed, it focused on three themes. First, at what points did it become clear to participants that they were engaged in a new European 'great game' of creating not just a standardised Higher Education Area, but a global market? Second, how does the Bologna process work as an exemplar of the European Union's new form of governance through freedom, often referred to as the operation of 'soft power' or the Open Method of Coordination? Third, what are the most recent developments, and what kind of future is emerging?

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Beth Pickard

Abstract

This article explores the portrayal of disability through the Disability Service web pages of Welsh universities in order to understand their potential impression on disabled applicants. The method of Qualitative Content Analysis enables consideration of multiple dimensions including use of language, terminology and photography, as well as discussion of academic, cultural, social and logistical aspects of student life. The development of a primarily concept-driven coding frame enables consideration of the absence of certain criteria as well as the frequency and prominence of others. The ensuing discussion considers, from a Critical Disability Studies perspective, the sector's portrayal of the construct of disability. This article proposes a call to action to challenge deficit-based interpretations of disability and advocates an affirmative stance towards disability in higher education policy and practice.

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Mariya Ivancheva

This article discusses paradoxes in the emergent global field of higher education as reflected in an alternative model of the university – the Bolivarian University of Venezuela (UBV) and the related higher education policy, Misión Sucre. With its credo in the applied social sciences, its commitment to popular pedagogy and its dependence on extensive fieldwork with communities, UBV offers an alternative model of science and research at the service of society. Drawing on my ongoing research on this university (since 2008), I present the difficulties which the homogenising standards of a global field of higher education pose to a rapidly developing mass public university in a semiperipheral country. I focus on the difficulty of developing evaluation procedures for UBV as this exposes contradictions which are both unique to this new university model and common for a world system of 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.