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From 'crisis' to 'transformation'? Shifting orthodoxies of African higher education policy and research

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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Bologna in America: The Spellings Commission and neo-liberal higher education policy

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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Introduction

Higher education reform in the ‘periphery’

Mariya Ivancheva and Ivo Syndicus

. In Robert Arnove's work (1980), for example, higher education policies as part of international development aid are discussed as poorly disguised development efforts that effectively reproduce the structural conditions of global inequality based on

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Neoliberal student activism in Brazilian higher education

The case of ‘Students For Liberty Brasil’

Evandro Coggo Cristofoletti and Milena Pavan Serafim

neoliberal think tanks, in general, advocate the following agenda for higher education policy: the maximum possible privatisation of higher education institutions and tuition fees for students in public institutions. Such policies, combined with advocacy of

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Masters or servants? Power and discourse in Serbian higher education reform

Jana Baćević

A series of events concerning the reform of higher education in Serbia, revolved around whether students who graduated prior to the formal adoption of the Bologna Process should be given the title of Masters, instead of Bachelors. It quickly became a matter of public contestation between different actors, resulting in a student protest that developed into a critique of the ‘neoliberal’ reform of higher education. This article analyses the sequence of events and the discursive strategies of the actors involved. In showing how the protests became part of power negotiations on the political scene in Serbia, the conclusion reflects on the relationship between power and discourse.

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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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Global inequality and policy selectivity in the periphery

The case of Ukrainian reforms in higher education

Viktoriia Muliavka

Abstract

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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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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Responding to university reform in South Africa

Student activism at the University of Limpopo

Bjarke Oxlund

Fifteen years ago South Africa's first democratic government inherited a tertiary sector marred by racial segregation. Since then higher education policies have been implemented with the aim of turning the sector around. Using the historically black University of Limpopo as a case, this article examines the impact of these policies from the perspective of students. It does so by combining a situational analysis of the student protests that erupted in 2007 at the University's main campus with a critical review of the impact that the new policies have had on university funding and autonomy.

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Are British higher educational concerns different from European higher educational concerns?

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.