The Meanings of Mass Higher Education

The Meanings of Mass Higher Education

The Meanings of Mass Higher Education

The Meanings of Mass Higher Education

Synopsis

This book is the first systematic attempt to analyse the growth of mass higher education in a specifically British context, while seeking to develop more theoretical perspectives on this transformation of elite university systems into open post-secondary education systems. It is divided into three main sections. The first examines the evolution of British higher education and the development of universities and other institutions. The second explores the political, social and economic context within which mass systems are developing. What are the links between post-industrial society, a post-Fordist economy and the mass university? The third section discusses the links between massification and wider currents in intellectual and scientific culture.

Excerpt

This book is an attempt to offer a general account of mass higher education. It takes as its starting point the development of British universities and colleges, the subject of Chapter 2. But it is impossible to write about this key shift from élite to mass higher education solely from a British viewpoint. Mass higher education is a much wider phenomenon — in two senses. First, higher education systems in all developed countries are being transformed by the same pressures and in similar ways. So comparisons with the rest of Europe, Australia and the United States are unavoidable. These comparisons not only illuminate, but also domesticate, what could otherwise appear an alarming transformation. Second, the development of mass higher education is only one of several modernizations under way in late-twentieth century society. It cannot, therefore, be regarded as an isolated and autonomous phenomenon. These larger changes in the nature of society and structure of the economy, shifts in intellectual culture and in science and technology, which are considered in Chapters 3 and 4, are integral parts of the story of mass higher education.

The first draft of this book was an inaugural lecture with the same title, given at the University of Leeds on 16 May 1994. the part of Chapter 2 which refers to the new universities (the original new universities of the 1960s) is based on an article originally published in New Universities Quarterly, which itself was based on a lecture given at the University of Kent. the part on unified and binary systems grew out of a paper given at a conference organized by the Academia Europaea and the Wenner Gren Foundation in Stockholm. My ideas about the links between the welfare state and the development of higher education were first developed for a conference held at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. One of my substantial debts, apparent in Chapter 4, is to my fellow members of the so-called Gleneagles group (because we first met at Gleneagles) which considered how the production of science and knowledge was changing: Michael Gibbons, Camille Limoges, Helga Nowotny, Simon Schwartzmann and Martin Trow.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge the help of many colleagues, first at the Times Higher Education Supplement and then at the University of Leeds.

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