The Meanings of Mass Higher Education

By Peter Scott | Go to book overview

or structural reforms; or of the substitution of one paradigm, labelled 'mass', for another, labelled 'élite'. Instead it must be interpreted in the context of the restless synergy between plural modernizations — of the academy, polity, economy, society and culture. The most important, and only permanent, characteristics of mass higher education systems are that they are endlessly open and radically reflexive. In all other respects, they are in ceaseless flux. Therefore, the apparent disjunction between mass forms and élite habits, which has been discussed in this introductory chapter, can be doubly explained: as an instinctive drawing-back from destabilizing and disorientating change, and as an expression of the ambiguities and irregularities inherent in that change.

Despite this argument that structural and institutional reforms are secondary, the next chapter is devoted to them. The growth of a unified system in Britain is analysed, as well as the contrast between different types of national system. Next, the present pattern of institutions is described, to emphasize the diversity that already prevails in British higher education. Two contrasting modernization strategies are also discussed, the liberalization of the university tradition (by creating 'new universities' in the 1960s) and the development of alternative institutions (the polytechnics). Finally, in that chapter, issues of mission and management are addressed.

Chapter 3 considers two broad topics, the reform of the welfare state and the shift from industrial to post-industrial society. The impact of the former on the government (in particular, relations between universities and the state) and funding of higher education is discussed; the influence of the latter on the system's inputs, or social demand for higher education, and outputs, or graduate careers, is also considered. The chapter ends with a more general discussion of the parameters of modernity. Chapter 4 opens with a brief review of past 'moments' of affinity between the development of higher education and radical conjunctures of social, economic and cultural change. It then also considers two broad topics, shifts in intellectual culture and in science and technology. The chapter ends by considering the implications of both for teaching and research. The final chapter attempts to draw the threads of the argument together and to offer a general account of mass higher education.

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The Meanings of Mass Higher Education
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Srhe and Open University Press Imprint ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • 1: Introduction 1
  • 2: Structure and Institutions 11
  • 3: State and Society 71
  • 4: Science and Culture 118
  • 5: Understanding Mass Higher Education 168
  • Notes 180
  • Index 190
  • The Society for Research into Higher Education 197
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