University Expansion in a Changing Global Economy: Triumph of the BRICs?

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This is a study of higher education in the world's four largest developing economies—Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Already important players globally, by mid-century, they are likely to be economic powerhouses. But whether they reach that level of development will depend in part on how successfully they create quality higher education that puts their labor forces at the cutting edge of the information society.

Using an empirical, comparative approach, this book develops a ...

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University Expansion in a Changing Global Economy: Triumph of the BRICs?

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This is a study of higher education in the world's four largest developing economies—Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Already important players globally, by mid-century, they are likely to be economic powerhouses. But whether they reach that level of development will depend in part on how successfully they create quality higher education that puts their labor forces at the cutting edge of the information society.

Using an empirical, comparative approach, this book develops a broad picture of the higher education system in each country in the context of both global and local forces. The authors offer insights into how differing socioeconomic and historic patterns of change and political contexts influence developments in higher education. In asking why each state takes the approach that it does, this work situates a discussion of university expansion and quality in the context of governments' educational policies and reflects on the larger struggles over social goals and the distribution of national resources.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The book has several boldly standing advantages as compared to some previous works addressing similar issues. Of these advantages the approach taken by the authors, the structure of the book, its high level of cohesion, strength of the argument, and the depth of analysis are perhaps most significant . . . The results of this large scale comparative research will be of interest to those who deal with international higher education trends and reforms and to those who are just aspiring for major reforms and joining the global educational policy exchange."—Ararat L. Osipian, Higher Education

"This is an essential book for understanding how the university system—the central institution of the knowledge economy—is both transformed by and transforming our increasingly globalized world. Unique in its scope, research, and relevance to policy, University Expansion in a Changing Global Economy will be mandatory reading for students and policy makers everywhere."—Manuel Castells, University of California, Berkeley

"University Expansion in a Changing Global Economy is, without question, the most comprehensive analysis of the rapidly changing higher education realities in the emerging BRIC superpowers. It combines thoughtful analysis with current data and useful comparisons, and reveals that each of these countries faces significant challenges as they seek to build 'world-class' higher education systems."—Philip G. Altbach, Boston College

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780804786010
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press
  • Publication date: 7/17/2013
  • Pages: 404
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Martin Carnoy is the Vida Jacks Professor of Education, Stanford University. Prashant Loyalka is Center Fellow, Freeman-Spogli Institute, Stanford University. Maria Dobryakova is Research Fellow, National Research University-Higher School of Economics, Moscow. Rafiq Dossani is Senior Economist, Rand Corporation. Isak Froumin is Academic Director, Institute for Educational Studies, National Research University—Higher School of Economics. Katherine Kuhns is an Independent Consultant at WestEd and Gallop Ventures and a former Lecturer at Stanford University. Jandhyala B. G. Tilak is Professor and Chair of Educational Finance, National University of Educational Planning and Administration, India. Rong Wang is Director, China Institute for Education Finance Research, Peking University.
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Triumph of the BRICs?

By Martin Carnoy, Prashant Loyalka, Maria Dobryakova, Rafiq Dossani, Isak Froumin, Katherine Kuhns, Jandhyala B. G. Tilak, Rong Wang

Stanford University Press

Copyright © 2013 Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8047-8601-0


The State and Higher Educational Change

This is a study of higher education expansion and quality in the world's four largest developing economies—Brazil, Russia, India, and China—known as the BRIC countries. These four economies are already important players globally, but by mid-century, they are likely to be economic powerhouses (O'Neill, 2001). Whether they reach that level of development will depend partly on how successfully they create quality higher education that puts their labor forces at the cutting edge of the information society. It is difficult to imagine large economies reaching advanced stages of development in the twenty-first century without high levels of innovative, well-trained, socially oriented professionals.

How effectively the BRICs improve and expand universities also affects the developed countries. This is especially true of university education in technology fields of study, such as various types of electronic/communications engineering and computer science. Skilled engineers and scientists are essential to high-technology industries, and these industries are, in turn, important to economic development in the information age. If the BRICs can train large numbers of highly qualified engineers and scientists, the poles of technological innovation could shift away from the United States, Europe, and Japan or—at the least—become increasingly shared between these old centers and the new (Freeman, 2010).

For this reason, we place special focus in this study on the increase in enrollment of engineers and computer scientists. Further, the perceived and actual growth in demand for graduates with technical/professional skills has been an important force in at least three of the BRICs in shaping the nature of the higher education expansion, and in several of the BRICs a new emphasis on university research and development in technical fields has been a dominant theme of the past decade.

Evaluating the potential success of the BRIC countries in developing highly skilled technical professionals is not the only reason to study their higher education systems. We want to learn how these governments go about organizing higher education because this can tell us a lot about their implicit economic, social, and political goals, and their capacity to reach them. Although the BRICs are acutely aware of their new role in the global economy, their governments must negotiate complex political demands at home, including ensuring domestic economic growth, social mobility, and political participation. Because more and better higher education is perceived by the public to be positively associated with all these elements of a developed society, BRIC governments' focus on their university systems has become an important part of their domestic economic and social policy.

Thus, the state—that is, the political system and the way it is reflected in government organization and policies—is key to our analysis of higher education development in the BRICs. Many studies of higher education focus on the development of individual institutions or particular groups of institutions (for example, Clark, 1983; Altbach, 1998; Kirp, 2004). Others stress the important role played by economic market forces in higher education expansion (for example, World Bank, 2000). Still others argue that global institutional environments are the most important cause of what happens to higher education at the local and national level (Meyer et al., 2005). There is much to be said for each of these theories of change. Yet, although all recognize that the national state is a player in the change process, all downplay its powerful role in shaping the national higher educational system in response to institutional inertia, international institutional environments, and global and national economic contexts.

In this study we take a different approach. We ask how each national state actively develops its higher education system, including achieving mass expansion and aiming for greater "quality," in the context of the many forces, global and local, that impinge on its society. Further, we ask why each national state takes the particular approach it does to higher educational expansion and improvement.

Our focus on how national states develop their higher educational systems means that we necessarily situate our discussion of university expansion and quality in the context of governments' educational policies. These, in turn, reflect much broader struggles over social goals and the distribution of national resources. While there is widespread recognition of the importance of an efficient state to promote economic development (see, for example, World Bank, 2004), there is a distinct paucity of research on how states in developing countries try to reorganize access to and the delivery of university education to create new knowledge. Little is known about how effectively countries are developing the scientific and managerial cadres that will lead the economy into science-based development. Further, much of what happens in higher education today is heavily influenced by what happened in an earlier period. For the countries we are interested in, the political system (the state) in earlier periods had rather different political and social goals than today's state. However, the way the state functioned and higher education was developed in the past carry over into the present and profoundly affect the shape and possibilities for making change (Meyer et al., 2005; Altbach, 1998).

Given the constraints imposed by historical conditions, it is not surprising that state higher education strategies in the BRICs for both expansion and improvement vary. Indeed, one important piece of evidence supporting our state-centered analysis is the great variation we observe among countries in the mechanisms that the state uses to shape higher education. If market forces dominated the shape of higher education, we would tend to find much greater similarities. Similarly, if global institutional environments dominated national strategies, we would also observe much greater convergence.

The variety of approaches suggests that national political environments—including each society's previous sets of state political-financial strategies that formed the current system—heavily influence current approaches to financing higher education.

Various levels of bureaucratic expertise (or the lack of it) and the inertia of the state's institutions—inertia that takes different forms in different countries—also play an important role in the politics of expanding and financing higher education.

Nevertheless, given the current globalized environment, it is not surprising that there are a number of commonalities in the strategies that BRIC states have used to respond to the demands of changing economies and expanding enrollment in the past two decades. For example, all four states have, for better or worse, turned increasingly to making students and their families share in the costs of expanding higher education, either through tuition in public institutions or promoting the expansion of full-tuition private universities and colleges. Some of the BRICs are also putting increasing resources into a few elite institutions, while "mass" institutions absorb most new students at relatively low cost to the institutions but relatively high cost to the students.

We make the case that the effectiveness of such strategies and others to help the university system "overcome" inherited trends and to "re-create" higher education in the current historical context is a good indicator of whether BRICs will become economic powerhouses by the mid-twenty-first century.

Besides its focus on the state, our study is unusual for two other reasons. First, it is empirical. Analyses of higher educational systems are typically descriptive and, if empirical, concentrate on particular aspects of the system, such as financial aid, the degree of equity, or the relationship between student outcomes (graduation rates, posteducational economic performance) and inputs (such as student characteristics, student family background, and higher education institutional characteristics). We take a more comprehensive view of the system and therefore have gathered data or use existing data on students, institutions, and socioeconomic-political contexts (including higher education finance and payoffs to educated labor) to develop a broad picture of the higher education system in each country at this particular moment in time. We also situate that picture in a historical pattern of change.

Second, the study is comparative. By measuring similar variables in each country, we draw insights into how differing socioeconomic, historical patterns of change, and especially political contexts, are related to national and subnational differences in how higher education develops. Using a comparative approach allows us to draw generalizations about shared patterns of change in these large countries' systems and why such shared patterns may exist.

We find that all of the BRIC states have greatly increased the numbers of university graduates in their labor forces, as well as the number of technical graduates and even the number of well-trained technical graduates. But they are not equally effective in their strategies to improve the overall quality of their higher education systems. Nor are they equally effective in providing access to higher education for disadvantaged students and distributing government funds fairly to different social class groups in their societies. Despite this, we find that students in their final year of university in the BRICs appear to be generally satisfied with their engineering and computer science education even when they have attended second-tier, often not high-quality, institutions. This is the case even for the high fraction who have paid tuition to attend those institutions. Although we focused on engineering and science students, we believe that student satisfaction extends to those studying in many other fields. Thus, some BRIC states may be doing only a fair job of building high-quality university systems that are broadly accessible and fairly financed across social groups, but they all seem to be achieving sufficient short-term political legitimacy through the satisfaction of those who do get access. Whether this is enough to build the innovative super-economies that Brazil, Russia, India, and China hope to be is a question we will try to answer in the pages that follow.

Background of the Study

Is There a Higher Education "Revolution" in BRIC Countries?

There has been a spate of new writing on the "revolution" in higher education globally (most prominently, Altbach et al., 2009; World Bank, 2000). This literature focuses on a number of important issues. The first of these is that there has been an enormous expansion of higher education worldwide in the past thirty years, and much of this expansion has been in the developing countries. Many reasons are cited for the rapid growth of enrollment in higher education. Population growth and the rapid expansion of primary and secondary schooling have in and of themselves increased demand for higher education places. Yet there is also a sense around the world that more higher education graduates are needed in economies that want to shift from traditional manufacturing to high-tech production and more human-capital-intensive services.

The objective signal that this may be so is the increasing private return to those who complete their university degrees (Murphy and Welch, 1989, 1995; Psacharopoulos and Patrinos, 2004). The dominant thinking, even in the 1990s, was that the highest yield investment in education was in primary schooling (Psacharopoulos, 1985; World Bank, 2000). Whether that assessment was correct or not (see Bennell, 1996, for a strong critique of Psacharopoulos's methodology and empirical results), it is now apparent that as primary and secondary education became universalized in more highly industrialized and postindustrial countries, the payoff of higher education rose in absolute terms, especially compared to the rate of return to investment in lower levels of schooling (for the reasons why this may have occurred, see Carnoy, 1972, 1995). Higher returns from university education have increased the demand for places in universities and in other postsecondary education institutions.

The second issue the literature emphasizes is the fundamental change in the traditional view of higher education as a public good, entirely subsidized by government funding. Altbach and colleagues (2009), along with others, claim that in contrast to this earlier view, governments today are more likely to consider higher education a private good, whose benefits accrue mainly to those who receive it. This implies that much of its cost should be borne by students and their families, not the broader taxpaying public.

The third "revolution" in higher education touted in the literature is the internationalization and globalization of university systems. Millions of students now study outside their own country and often stay in their host economy to work after completing their studies. English has become the dominant language of higher education, particularly in sciences and other technical fields. The U.S. research university has become the model for the notion of the "world-class" university. Research—both published and unpublished—becomes rapidly available through the Internet, and researchers worldwide communicate in real time through e-mail, blogging, and texting. University curricula are available through open courseware, so university instructors anywhere in the world can employ the latest ideas in how to teach courses. Further, a number of universities in the developed countries are opening branches in developing countries, essentially using developed country "brands" and often faculty to attract paying students in the developing countries. Finally, the European Union has initiated the Bologna process, which attempts to make the Union's university systems more uniform. The purpose of that form of "internationalization" is to make it easier for students to study outside their own country's postsecondary institutions and still obtain a common degree. The Bologna process illustrates the concept of the universal credential, in which students can study in different countries, obtaining a credential recognized in all participating economies (Clotfelter, 2010).

The fourth "revolutionary" trend claimed for the new higher education is the increasing use of information technology in reaching a broader clientele. This clientele is mainly working adults who want to hold jobs and study at the same time, but it also includes a new generation of young people more amenable to online, flextime learning. The potential of the Open University or correspondence school has been around a long time (Nelson Mandela got his degrees through UNISA, South Africa's correspondence university, and the University of London's external program), but with the advent of the Internet, the possibilities of watching streaming video lectures and engaging in intensive interaction with tutors and peers through e-mails and site blogs have opened up a whole new range of distance teaching methods. Professors in some elite U.S. universities are beginning to offer mass open access to full participation in their courses through the Internet. A recent report from the U.S. Department of Education (Institute of Educational Sciences, 2009) suggests that students learn the course material as well in virtual higher education courses as in traditional universities. Despite this promise, and despite the great expansion of distance education, no virtual university nor a virtual course has attained the status of a first-rank institution, even though some, such as the Open University of Catalonia, also stress research (Carnoy, 2005), and it is possible that in the future, first-rank institutions will give course credit in some form to those students who successfully complete the institution's mass open courses on line.

There is little doubt that all four of these major trends in higher education exist and that they are important. As we show in this study, however, they may misrepresent themselves as true breaks with the past and, aside from the rapid expansion of enrollment, may not be the most important trends to focus on, at least in terms of defining how the large developing countries are moving to reform their university systems in the new global environment.

In our view, a key change taking place in higher education in the BRIC countries (and in many other countries) is the increasing differentiation between the "mass" universities and colleges, which absorb the vast majority of students in the BRIC countries, and the "elite" universities, which, particularly in China and Russia, are being pushed to become "world-class" research-type universities and serve a relatively limited group of students. Although in all four countries, there is concern in the state bureaucracy about quality in the mass universities, and even signs in some, such as China, of trying to reverse differentiation, the academic distance between the two types of higher education institutions is growing, not only in terms of the amount of public and private resources per student, but possibly in the quality of the courses, the expectations of students, and the labor market opportunities for students graduating from the increasingly differentiated institutions.

This is not just an artifact of the process of expanding enrollment in higher education. Nor is it just the result of the "natural differentiation" among tertiary-level (and, usually, also among secondary-level) institutions that characterizes most countries' educational systems (OECD, 2008). We argue that this new trend is the result of government policies in BRIC countries of trying to strengthen research and the training of elite cadres in a limited group of institutions while satisfying broader goals of absorbing demand for higher education at a much lower cost. These policies may change in the future, no doubt. However, at this historical juncture they represent the various BRIC countries' approaches to growing and changing their higher education systems.

Excerpted from UNIVERSITY EXPANSION IN A CHANGING GLOBAL ECONOMY by Martin Carnoy, Prashant Loyalka, Maria Dobryakova, Rafiq Dossani, Isak Froumin, Katherine Kuhns, Jandhyala B. G. Tilak, Rong Wang. Copyright © 2013 Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University. Excerpted by permission of Stanford University Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


List of Figures....................     vii     

List of Tables....................     xi     

Preface and Acknowledgments....................     xv     

1 The State and Higher Educational Change....................     1     

2 The Great Higher Education Expansion....................     34     

3 Economic Returns to Investing in Higher Education and Their Impact in
the BRIC Countries....................     72     

4 The Changing Financing of BRIC Higher Education....................     104     

5 BRIC Universities as Institutions in the Process of Change...............     140     

6 Who Are the Students, and How Are They Shaped by BRIC Higher Education?..     179     

7 The Quality of BRIC Higher Education....................     212     

8 BRIC Higher Education and Social Equity....................     257     

9 What Do BRIC Higher Education Strategies Imply for the Future?...........     295     

Notes....................     327     

References....................     347     

About the Authors....................     365     

Index....................     369     

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2014

    I have not had the pleasure of reading this book but I just hear

    I have not had the pleasure of reading this book but I just heard about this book today since I am seriously concerned about the current geopolitical situation on our planet. It is a pleasure to see academic cooperation among all of these countries and would love to see the same type of cooperation among our political leaders worldwide, particularly including the BRICS countries, now including South Africa. It confuses me that we can't all join together for world peace and what I see discussed in the short excerpt I read from this publication seems to me to be a giant step forward in the right direction.

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