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'.
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.
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.
Gritt B. Nielsen
In order to prosper as a so-called knowledge society in a global economy, countries worldwide are increasingly emphasising the need to internationalise their higher education institutions and attract the best and brightest students and staff from abroad. This article explores the shifting rationales for internationalisation and how today, based on novel forms of comparability and exchange, a new and highly stratified arena for higher education is developing. By focusing on the conferences and fairs where actors negotiate and position higher education on various scales, not least a global one, the article introduces the core themes of this special issue and presents one possible context for the following articles.
This article uses postcolonial scholarship to understand the knowledge and cultural politics that underpin Australian-provided transnational higher education (TNHE) programmes in Singapore and Malaysia. A case is made for TNHE practices to develop an 'engaged pedagogy' and 'ethics of care' as it relates to transnational students in postcolonial spaces. Through this, the article seeks to respond to broader criticisms directed at international education's limited engagement with equity and social justice.
Sally Baker and Eve Stirling
As technological developments accelerate, and neoliberal ideologies shift the ways that universities ‘do business’, higher education is facing radical changes. Within this context, students’ need to ‘succeed’ at university is more important than ever. Consequently, understanding students’ transitions within this shifting higher education landscape has become a key focus for universities. It is now pertinent to explore how social-networking sites (SNS) influence students’ experiences as they transition into university. In this article, we offer two ethnographic case studies of how students use one SNS (Facebook) as they travel through their first year of undergraduate study. We suggest that Facebook is used not only for dynamic participation in the social fabric of university life, Facebook is the go-to space to organise their academic and social lives, using it as a hybrid space to negotiate between home and university. As such, Facebook offers student-users a ‘liminal tool’ for negotiating and facilitating resources and networks within the first year at university.
This article examines the impact of contemporary higher education policy at a rural university in Japan. Hirosaki University, although a national university with an attached medical school, is far from the centre of academia in Japan, with a comparatively low ranking among national universities in Japan, and severe budget constraints. The policies that influence the trajectory of the university simultaneously illustrate two dimensions. On the one hand, they reflect global trends of neoliberal higher educational governance as these unfold in a leading nation-state within Asia. On the other hand, they show how policies originating within central government ministries and dictated by population and budget dynamics yield a highly localised outcome that forces a peripheral university to concentrate its efforts predominantly in its own community.
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.
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.
Catherine Norma Butcher
This report describes my field visits to Berea and Deep Springs Colleges in the U.S.A. and explores their forms of ownership/control, governance, financing and organisational structure. Berea and Deep Springs are small, liberal arts colleges, distinctive in American higher education, in which students actively participate in a spirit of democracy. This report highlights the relationship between these heterodox organisational forms and student outcomes. It examines the practical significance of these two colleges for education policy and how certain features could be resources for hope used in constructing heterodox higher education institutions in other parts of the world. This report complements that of Wright, Greenwood and Boden (2011) on Mondragón University – a cooperative in the Basque country of Spain – by adding to the body of knowledge on alternative models of higher education institutions.