IIE Research Report Number Twenty-nine Higher Education in the 21st Century: GLOBAL CHALLENGE AND NATIONAL RESPONSE Edited by PHILIP G. ALTBACH Boston College and PATTI McGILL PETERSON Institute of International Education and Council on International Exchange of Scholars April 1999 i Copyright © 1999 Institute of International Education and Boston College Center for International Higher Education ISBN 087206-252-X This book is available from IIE Books Institute of International Education POB 371 Annapolis Junction, MD 20701-0371 ww. iiebooks. com 800. 445. 0443 tollfree 301. 617. 7804 phone 301. 206. 9789 fax ii Contents Preface v Allan Goodman Introduction 1 Philip G. Altbach and Patti McGill Peterson Theme Chapter: 1. Global Challenge and National Response: Notes for 3 an International Dialogue on Higher Education Philip G. Altbach and Todd M. Davis Responses: 2. Global Challenges and the Chinese Response 11 Min Weifang . The Transformation of an Imperial Colony into an 19 Advanced Nation: India in Comparative Perspective Suma Chitnis 4. Higher Education in Africa: Challenges and Strategies 31 for the 21st Century George S. Eshiwani 5. South Africa: Future Prospects 39 Nasima Badsha iii 6. Latin America: National Responses to World 47 Challenges in Higher Education Simon Schwartzman 7. Universal Problems and National Realities: 59 Japan in Comparative Perspective Akimasa Mitsuta . Current Issues and Future Priorities for European Higher Education Systems 67 Barbara Sporn 9. A Regional Perspective: Central and Eastern 79 Europe Peter Darvas Contributors 91 iv Preface ALLAN GOODMAN More persons will attend colleges and universities in the next cen- tury than in all of human history. Most of the capacity to accommo- date this demand is yet to be built, and most of it will be built out- side the United States.
This book presents the thinking of leading higher education researchers and policymakers around the world about what kinds of blueprints are needed and who will be the ar- chitects for those future higher education systems and structures. The essays grew out of papers presented at a December 1998 sym- posium, “Global Challenge and National Response,” sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation and convened by Dr. Patti McGill Peterson, executive director of the Council on International Ex- change of Scholars (CIES), which in affiliation with the Institute of International Education (IIE) administers for the U.
S. Information Agency the Fulbright Fellowship Program. The conference benefited greatly from the advice and participation of Philip G. Altbach, J. Donald Monan, S. J. Professor of higher education at Boston Col- lege and director of its Center for International Higher Education, who served as editor and copublisher with IIE of this publication, which is the 29th in a series of IIE Policy Research Reports on current issues in international education exchange.
The IIE plays many roles in the development of human capital around the world, through administration of federally funded graduate pro- grams like the Fulbright and Humphrey fellowships, delivery of more targeted professional training through USAID’s Global Training for Development, and promotion of university linkages through Infor- mation Exchanges focused on key world regions (Southern Africa, East Central Europe, North America). Most of these activities mobilize v and share the expertise of U.
S. higher education institutions, extend- ing these resources to academics and policymakers abroad. Over 600 higher education institutions around the globe are members of IIE, sharing information on developments in their institutions and world regions through IIE’s on-line and printed newsletters and website. Through IIE’s Professional Exchanges Program, hundreds of Interna- tional Visitors each year participate in study tours (with support from USIA), learning how U. S. igher education institutions grapple with is- sues ranging from financing, to the changing profile of the undergradu- ate, to the impact of new technologies, to the aging of the professori- ate. But even as we share with others the well-developed U. S. higher edu- cation model, that model is under serious review at home and is in a period of dramatic transition. Other countries are facing similar transi- tions, and under even greater pressures to respond to changing na- tional needs, with shrinking national resources.
With Rockefeller Foun- dation support, this symposium and resulting publication are the be- ginning of what we hope to be a sustained dialogue among key actors involved in “global capacity building” and the development of higher education systems, including those who design and fund activities, those who shape and staff these institutions, the students and employers served by the institutions, and those who conduct research on their effectiveness.
The purpose will be to assess the relevance of current models to 21st century needs at different stages of development around the world, and to consider how these models might better incorporate and reflect changing assumptions about and vehicles for human ca- pacity development. As Vaclav Havel so aptly observed, we live in an era in which every- thing is possible and nothing is certain. The future is also happening faster than any of us can imagine. These conditions predominate in world politics largely because power is being dispersed not only across nations but across cultures.
Education is the medium of that exchange. The participants in the symposium and subsequent publication share a common vision that, in the words of the late Sen. J. William Fulbright, “We must try, through education, to realize something new in the world— by persuasion rather than by force, cooperatively rather than competi- tively, not for the purpose of gaining dominance for a nation or an ide- ology but for the purpose of helping every society develop its own con- vi ept of public decency and individual fulfillment. ” They have formed an informal network that will continue to share information and provide support as their higher education systems grapple with common prob- lems and undergo their individual transformations. These transformations are as needed today as when the Senator wrote about them in 1977. The universality of the dollar, the English language, and the Internet makes us all think we are closer than, in fact, we are.
And, it turns out, virtual exchange is no substitute for what we are all working to achieve: the broadening of a young person’s cultural hori- zons, the increasing of their capacity to think and work globally, and the creation of opportunities for them to participate in making the world a less dangerous place. This publication, we hope, will extend the dia- logue and exchange of views to a broader audience and engage new voices in this vital shared enterprise. vii Introduction
PHILIP G. ALTBACH and PATTI McGILL PETERSON Higher education worldwide and its future direction are neither simple nor straightforward topics, yet they are the focus of this vol- ume. To address such complex topics, we have assembled a dis- tinguished group of commentators from five continents to reflect on the current state of higher education and the prospect of its future evolution. These thoughtful analysts have taken as their starting point the theme chapter in this volume.
The themes presented in this chapter were chosen for their growing significance in many countries and regions of the world. They constitute the starting point for our respondents’ reflections and are meant to elicit their experi- ence in different parts of the world as well as their own points of view. The result is a thoughtful mix of context and perspective that will, we think, advance our understanding of likely future scenarios for higher education. We have no crystal ball that will provide an accurate portrayal of future global developments in higher educa- tion.
We are convinced, however, that this set of comparative views will help us understand the basis for future trends principally be- cause our analysts bring such a well-informed spectrum of analysis to the topic. A comparative perspective can seldom provide us with detailed pre- scriptions for action, but it permits us to expand our horizons. In higher education, where we are so often bound by the constraints of national thinking, a comparative perspective is especially valu- able because academic institutions worldwide stem from common traditions, and the issues facing higher education around the world have many common characteristics.
The purpose of this volume is to provide such a comparative perspective. 1 This book stems from a symposium sponsored by the Institute of International Education in Washington D. C. on December 3, 1998. The chapters here were prepared for this symposium, and revised extensively as a result of the discussions and further comments. We are especially indebted to our respondents, who prepared in- sightful analyses and worked with us on revising them for publica- tion.
The Center for International Higher Education at Boston Col- lege assisted in the organization of the symposium, and is respon- sible for providing editorial and publication support for this book. Financial support from the Rockefeller Foundation, with additional support from the Institute of International Education, made the sym- posium and this volume possible. 2 I. Global Challenge and National Response: NOTES FOR AN INTERNATIONAL DIALOGUE ON HIGHER EDUCATION PHILIP G. ALTBACH and TODD M. DAVIS
Higher education has profoundly changed in the past two decades, and those involved in the academic enterprise have yet to grapple with the implications of these changes. Academic institutions and systems have faced pressures of increasing numbers of students and demo- graphic changes, demands for accountability, reconsideration of the social and economic role of higher education, implications of the end of the Cold War, and the impact of new technologies, among others. While academic systems function in a national environment, the chal- lenges play themselves out on a global scale.
We can learn much from both national experiences and international trends. Ideas and solu- tions from one country or region may be relevant in another. Since academic institutions worldwide stem from common historical roots and face common contemporary challenges, it is especially ap- propriate that international dialogue take place. A comparative and global approach to thinking about higher education benefits everyone—the experience of one country may not be directly relevant to another, but 3 issues and solutions touch many nations.
This essay has several key aims: • to highlight issues in higher education that face many countries and about which an international discussion can contribute insights; • to contribute to the internationalization of higher education through discussion of international initiatives and linking of people and institu- tions committed to a global perspective and expanded international programs; • to create a network of colleagues and centers working in the field of higher education worldwide in order to foster ongoing dialogue, com- munication, and possible collaborative research; and to link policymakers, key administrators, and the higher education research community in a creative dialogue on the central issues facing contemporary higher education. We see this essay, and the discussions that we hope it will stimulate, as a first step in an ongoing discussion. We are especially concerned to link North and South in a discussion that has for so long been domi- nated by the industrialized countries. We are convinced that there is much that can be learned by considering the experiences of countries and systems worldwide.
Background and Global Perspective While it may not yet be possible to think of higher education as a global system, there is considerable convergence among the world’s univer- sities and higher education systems. The medieval European histori- cal origin of most of the world’s universities provides a common ante- cedent. The basic institutional model and structure of studies are simi- lar worldwide. Academic institutions have frequently been international in orientation—with common curricular elements and, in the medieval period, a common language of instruction—Latin.
At the end of the 20th century, English has assumed a role as the primary international language of science and scholarship, including the Internet. Now, with more than one million students studying outside their borders, with countless scholars working internationally, and with new technologies such as the Internet fostering instantaneous communications, the in- ternational roots and the contemporary realities of the university are central. Higher education systems have also been moving from elite to mass to universal access, as Martin Trow pointed out in the 1960s.
In North 4 America, much of Europe, and a number of East Asian countries, aca- demic systems approach universal access, with close to half the rel- evant age group attending some kind of postsecondary institution and with access increasingly available for nontraditional (mainly older) stu- dents. In some countries, however, access remains limited. In China and India, for example, despite dramatic expansion, under 5 percent of the age group attends postsecondary institutions.
In some countries with relatively low per capita income, such as the Philippines, access is high, while in some wealthier nations, it remains a key point of chal- lenge. Throughout Africa, access is limited to a tiny sector of the popu- lation. Access is an increasingly important issue everywhere, as popu- lations demand it and as developing economies require skilled person- nel. Demands for access come into conflict with another of the flashpoints of controversy of the present era—funding. Higher education is an ex- pensive undertaking, and there is much debate concerning how to fund expanding academic systems.
Current approaches to higher educa- tion funding emphasize the need for “users” to pay for the cost of in- struction, as policymakers increasingly view higher education as some- thing that benefits the individual, rather than as a “public good” where the benefits accrue to society. This new thinking, combined with con- strictions on public expenditures in many countries, have meant se- vere financial problems for academe. These difficulties come at a time when higher education systems are trying to provide expanded ac- cess.
Higher education’s problems have been exacerbated in many of the poorer parts of the world by the idea, popular in the past several decades and stressed by the World Bank and other agencies, that basic education was most cost-effective—as a result, higher educa- tion was ignored by major lending and donor agencies. Now, higher education is back on the agenda of governments and multilateral agen- cies just as academe faces some of its most serious challenges. Academic systems and institutions have tried to deal with these finan- cial constraints in several ways.
Loan programs, the privatization of some public institutions, and higher tuition are among the alternatives to direct government expenditure. In many parts of the world, including most of the major industrialized nations, conditions of study have dete- riorated in response to financial constraints. Enrollments have risen, but resources, including faculty, have not kept up with needs. Aca- demic infrastructures, including libraries and laboratories, have been 5 starved of funds. Less is spent on basic research.
Conditions of study have deteriorated in many of the world’s best-developed academic systems, including Germany and France. Students have taken to the streets in large numbers to protest declining budgets and poor condi- tions for the first time since the 1960s. There has also been a dramatic decline in academic conditions in sub-Saharan Africa and in some other developing areas. While these trends, and the circumstances discussed below, vary to some extent from country to country, there is considerable convergence. Academic leaders worldwide worry about the same set of topics.
Spe- cific conditions vary from one country to another, and there are cer- tainly major differences between the Netherlands and Mali. Yet, solu- tions from one country may be relevant, at least in terms of suggesting alternatives, elsewhere. For example, there is much interest in Austra- lian ideas concerning a “graduate tax”—a repayment scheme based on postgraduate income. The United States, as the world’s largest and in many respects leading academic system, experienced the challenges of universal access first, and American patterns of academic organiza- tion are of considerable interest elsewhere.
We live in a period of rapid change in higher education, a period when we can learn much from the experience of others. In short, higher edu- cation has gone global but with a variety of accents. These global con- cerns or issues are actually not discrete topic areas. They are better understood as issue clusters. Each of the following are actually related concerns that are increasingly difficult to isolate and manage in a re- ductionist manner. A discussion of the short list of issue clusters fol- lows. The Issue Clusters
We identify several themes that seem to us to be central to current developments in higher education worldwide. These themes deserve elaboration and analysis. They affect countries and regions differently, although we believe that all are relevant internationally, and that a dis- cussion of implications can lead to understanding that will be useful for both comparative and national analysis. • Education and work are activities that should feed one another. The links and transition points from initial education to the work force are weakly articulated.
This is true in the developed world as well as in 6 the developing world. Educators and business leaders rarely discuss, let alone agree upon, a set of skills and orientations that are prerequi- sites for successful employment. The formal structures by which edu- cation systems prepare students for tomorrow are similarly weakly developed. Models developed in Germany, through the linking of postsecondary education and apprenticeship arrangements, or the U. S. community college system are currently being explored in several ar- eas.
Professional education often links well to employment in many countries, but education in the arts and sciences is less well articu- lated. It is not clear how close an articulation is possible, but the issues are worthy of further consideration. • While the initial transition from school to work may be poorly ar- ticulated, the demand for education throughout the life cycle is becom- ing apparent. Fed by rapid changes in technology and the creation of employment categories that did not exist 10 years ago, workers and employers must continually attend to the educational dimension.
As the nature of work has evolved, so have the needs of those in the workforce to continually upgrade their capacities. This has led to the development of a variety of educational forms beyond the bachelor’s degree. In Germany, recent changes in the degree structure have led to the modularization of graduate degrees. In the United States, certifi- cate programs and short-term courses of study are being rapidly de- veloped. By one recent estimate corporations in the United States alone will spend $15 billion over current expenditures by 2005 just to main- tain current employee training levels.
Others estimate that worldwide expenditures on training amount to many billions of dollars annually to ensure that their workforce has the skills necessary to compete in an ever-competitive and high-velocity business environment. In many coun- tries, especially in the developing world, graduate education is coming into its own as the need for advanced skills and for continuing educa- tion becomes increasingly clear. • It has become a point of banality to remark on the changes that technological developments have wrought.
Indeed, many of the dislo- cations in school-to-work transition and the press for lifelong education are partially the result of these developments. More directly, however, technology has made possible a revolution in distance education that has important implications for the accreditation of educational institu- tions and assurance of quality in such circumstances. Technology is also beginning to have an impact on teaching and learning in tradi- 7 tional universities.
It is also a truism that this technology is expensive, subject to rapid obsolescence, and requires high initial investment simply to get into the game. For many developing countries, cost is at present prohibitive, and it is precisely these areas where technology can pro- vide the greatest short-term improvement. Technology is also central to the communication, storage, and retrieval of knowledge. The tradi- tional library is being revolutionized by web-based information systems, as are the management systems of many universities.
Technology is the least understood of the issue clusters discussed here, and perhaps the one with the greatest potential for transforming higher education. • We have noted in passing the increase in the number of interna- tionally mobile students. While this is an exciting and important trend, it is not without some serious consequences. As the market for individu- als with transnational competencies has grown, so have opportunities for individuals with marketable skills in other countries.
Currently, the transfer of talent has been from developing countries such as India and China to the developed world. In the United States, the stay rates for advanced students in the engineering disciplines and the sciences can be higher than 75 percent for students from particular countries. From the perspective of national education authorities, these students may represent a considerable hemorrhaging of talent that has been developed by the students’ countries of origin. If nations are to de- velop, a means must be found by which talent can flourish in the soils that originally nurtured it.
Related issues of internationalizing the cur- riculum and providing a global consciousness to students, including instruction in foreign language, and ensuring that the academic pro- fession is linked internationally are central to any discussion of the internationalization of higher education. • Although seldom discussed, one of the areas of greatest expan- sion worldwide has been graduate education—the postbaccalaureate training for the professions as well as for science, technology, and teach- ing. Graduate education offers great opportunities for international links and cooperation.
Countries can take advantage of graduate training capacities elsewhere, and the new technologies can provide key links. Highly specialized and advanced-level teaching and research deserve careful analysis. • The privatization of higher education is a worldwide phenomenon of considerable importance. In Latin America and some parts of Asia, 8 the fastest-growing parts of the academic system are private institu- tions. In Central and Eastern Europe, private initiative is also of consid- erable importance. Public universities are in some places being “priva- tized” in the sense that they are increasingly responsible for raising their own funds.
They are asked to relate more directly to society. Stu- dents are increasingly seen as “customers. ” The expansion of the pri- vate sector brings up issues of quality control and accreditation since in many parts of the world there are few controls as yet on private- sector expansion. Access is also a central issue. As some developing areas, such as sub-Saharan Africa, will soon be experiencing the growth of private institutions, understanding in a comparative context the prob- lems and possibilities of private higher education is an urgent need. • The academic profession is in crisis almost everywhere.
There is a rapid growth of part-time faculty members in many countries, and tra- ditional tenure systems are under attack. The professoriate is being asked to do more with less, and student-teacher ratios, academic sala- ries, and morale have all deteriorated. The professoriate is being asked to adjust to new circumstances but is given few resources to assist in the transition. Without a committed academic profession, the univer- sity cannot be an effective institution. • Access and equity remain central factors, but in the current policy context are sometimes ignored.
While academic systems worldwide have expanded dramatically, there are problems of access and equity in many parts of the world. Gender, ethnicity, and social class remain serious issues. In many developing countries, higher education remains mainly an urban phenomenon, and one that is reserved largely for wealthier segments of society. Although women have made significant advances, access for women remains a serious problem in many parts of the world. • Accountability is a contemporary watchword in higher educa- tion.
Demands by funding sources, mainly government, to measure academic productivity, control funding allocations, etc. is increas- ingly a central part of the debate on higher education. Governance systems are being strained, sometimes to the breaking point. To meet the demands for accountability, universities are becoming “managerialized,” with professional administrators gaining increas- ing control. The traditional power of the professoriate is being weak- ened. 9 • Expansion brings with it increased differentiation and the emer- gence of academic systems.
New kinds of academic institutions emerge, and existing universities serve larger and more diverse groups. In or- der to make sense of this differentiation, academic systems are orga- nized to provide coordination and the appropriate management of re- sources. These are some of the key topics that affect contemporary postsecondary education worldwide. While this is by no means a com- plete list, it provides the basis for discussion and cooperation. Interna- tional and comparative analysis can help to yield insights on how to deal with these topics in individual countries. 0 II. Global Challenges and Chinese Responses MIN WEIFANG Chinese higher education has a long tradition. Ancient Chinese higher education dates back three thousand years, to the Zhou Dynasty, and flourished in the Han Dynasty, two thousand years ago. It was then called taixue, which meant highest institution of learning. However, the modern Chinese higher education system is the result of learning from and in interaction with the West, sharing common historical roots with higher education in other countries, as stated in the theme chapter.
Thus, to a certain extent, Chinese higher education institutions, as do universities in other countries, face similar contemporary challenges, resulting from the advancement of science and technology, economic growth, social changes, and the internationalization and globalization of the world economy, as well as of higher education. However, one has to be aware that Chinese higher education institu- tions respond to common challenges in a specific institutional context, characterized by the transition of the Chinese economy from an ossi- fied, centrally planned system to a dynamic, socialist market economy.
This transition has led to a series of profound socioeconomic changes and has had a strong impact on almost every aspect of Chinese higher education. Currently, Chinese higher education enrolls about 6 million students, in some 2,217 institutions (1,107 of these are adult higher education institutions), under dozens of different central ministries and 11 provinces that segment the higher education system. While the eco- nomic sector took the lead in the reforms, dramatic changes have taken place in the human resources sector.
It is the labor market, and no longer central planning, that plays the fundamental role in shaping hu- man resources development and allocation. The overspecialized and departmentalized higher education system based on the rationale of a planned economy no longer works well in the new market context. Thus, it was imperative to change the rigid central planning system of gover- nance and administration and to establish a new institutional frame- work and operating mechanism for the Chinese higher education sys- tem, according to the logic of the newly developed market economy.
This is a tremendous task, encompassing a series of reforms, which includes breaking the departmental boundaries between different gov- ernment agencies that segmented the higher education system; reori- entation of the government/university relationship; and revision of the legal status of higher education institutions to grant universities more autonomy and enable them to respond to the needs of socioeconomic development as signaled by the labor market, rather than as dictated by government planning.
The role of the state will be changed from one of direct control and management to one of regulating universities within a solid legal infrastructure and financing higher education with priorities, providing policy guidance and coordination, and monitoring and evaluating higher education institutions. In recent years, dramatic changes have been taking place in this direction. The new system has just started to take shape, but is far from being institutionalized.
One has to understand the dynamic nature of current higher education de- velopment in China and view the key issues discussed in the following sections within this changing institutional context. Articulation of Education and Work As in other parts of the world, how to improve the link between educa- tion and the workforce represents a serious challenge for Chinese uni- versities. School and work in China used to be articulated by a central planning mechanism, through government job assignment—a system that is changing, although it is still functioning to some extent.
Designed to serve a planned economy, the centralized job-assignment system created serious problems for both graduates and employers. It was impossible for governmental planning agencies to obtain accurate in- formation about what the millions of students are studying in the many different colleges and universities, nor could they know in detail the actual manpower needs of thousands of employing units. The situation 12 was worsened by the many overly complicated bureaucratic proce- dures and rigid formalities between graduates and employers, who usually did not meet one another before the employment decisions were made.
The graduates had little say in what they would do but had to accept the job-assignment decisions of the government, and em- ploying units had little freedom to select graduates but had to accept those assigned to them. Both were dominated by the government plan. It very often occurred that vacancies could not be filled by persons with the proper expertise and that graduates trained in particular skills had to be transferred to jobs requiring different qualifications.
According to a survey of 100,000 college graduates a few years ago in China, more than 40 percent had a job unrelated to their training. Along with the deepening reforms since the 1980s, the economy has become more and more dynamic and market oriented; the employing units gained more and more autonomy in their operations and became more conscious of cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness analyses in hu- man resources utilization; the open door policy and technology trans- fers have led to a rapid renewal of technology in industry.
More impor- tantly, the nonstate sector, including private enterprises and joint-ven- ture companies, has emerged and quickly expanded, hiring and firing according to production needs and without any consideration to the government job-assignment plan. These new developments have re- sulted in a rapidly changing pattern of manpower needs and human resources allocation and utilization. More and more graduates enter the labor market to find jobs on their own. The articulation of school and work has gradually shifted from a central planning mechanism to one based on the abor market. However, this is only a partial solution to the problems. The labor market mechanism is not a panacea for the articulation of school and work. Because of the imperfections of the market and the lag in market effect, market failures do occur from time to time, even in those countries with a long tradition of a market economy—as well as in China, whose market economy is still very immature. Recently, there have been more reported mismatches of supply and demand in the labor market, and some graduates have been unable to find jobs closely related to their training.
In addition to providing better career and employment counseling, Chinese universi- ties need to coordinate their programs more effectively with the actual manpower needs of the country by establishing close links with em- ployers. The job-placement ratio of graduates is one of the important indicators of institutional effectiveness in the market context. The state 13 should still have a role to play in improving the articulation of school and work—for example, by providing policy guidance and information services.
It seems that to tackle the challenge, universities, business, and government will have to work together more closely. Access and Equity The fast-growing market economy, the rapid development of science and technology, and rising individual income levels and living stan- dards have stimulated the ever-increasing demand for higher educa- tion opportunities. The Chinese higher education system has expanded very quickly over the past 18 years. Enrollments in higher education institutions rose from about 1 million in the early 1980s to 6 million in 1998 (including 2. million enrolled in adult higher education institu- tions). However, the expansion of higher education has not kept up with the demands. Currently, higher education enrollments account for only 7 percent of the college-age population in China, which is very low by international standards. The world average now is about 13 per- cent, while the industrialized countries enroll more than 30 percent of their college-age cohort. Access to higher education is one of the most challenging issues facing the Chinese government.
The distribution patterns of the limited higher education opportunities can result in social equity problems. Ethnic minority students have been given favorable terms for admission to universities. They accounted for 6. 83 percent of the total enrollment in 1997. Given the fact that minority groups account for a similar proportion of the total population, they are reasonably well represented in Chinese higher education. Female students accounted for only 37. 3 percent of enrollments; thus they are underrepresented.
College admissions decisions rely mainly on performance on the national competitive examinations. Thus, stu- dents from families of higher socioeconomic status, who have the ad- vantage of better learning conditions, are usually overrepresented in the student population, although measures have been taken to sup- port students from low-income families. No statistics are available on this subject. Probably the most serious equity issue concerns the re- gional disparities.
To deal with the huge unmet demand for higher edu- cation, local governments have been mobilized for higher education development. However, since China is a geographically large country, characterized by very uneven development among the different areas, regional disparities are obvious. For example, the number of college students per 10,000 population in 1997 was 323 for Beijing, 165 for 14 Shanghai, and 146 for Tianjin, while it was only 29 per 1,000 for Guangxi, 26 for Qinghai, and 20 for Guizhou.
The expenditure per student also varied widely from region to region: 12,127 yuan in Beijing; 12,687 yuan in Shanghai, 7,919 yuan in Guangdong, but only 4,869 yuan in Anhui, 3,678 yuan in Sichuan, and 3,861 yuan in Guizhou. The in- creasing regional disparities in higher education development have drawn the attention of the state. Central interventions have been made, such as intergovernmental grants allocated to underdeveloped regions. However, since these disparities are rooted in the uneven socioeco- nomic development among regions, including differing financial capacity and labor market needs, the disparities still prevail.
How to tackle the problems represents a major challenge in China. Financial Constraints As in most of the countries in the world, if one surveyed the university presidents in China, they would point to shortages of funding as their greatest headache. While higher education expanded very quickly, the increase in state appropriations for higher education could not keep up with the growing costs. The unit allocation per student in constant terms has actually declined since the mid-1980s.
Thus Chinese universities have been faced with increasing financial constraints since the mid- 1980s. Although the costs for salaries and fringe benefits have ac- counted for an increasing share of the total budget, faculty salaries are still relatively low. The government has responded to faculty complaints about low income levels with some pay increases, but the increases were quickly offset by inflation. This situation has resulted in an un- stable teaching force. Many faculty members have left the teaching profession.
Since a growing proportion of funding goes to salaries, there is a serious shortage of both nonsalary instructional funds and the nec- essary facilities and equipment for higher education institutions. This has resulted in understocked laboratories and libraries. Many higher education institutions have had to cut their subscriptions to periodicals that they had had for many years. Obviously, without successfully tack- ling the financial constraints, the Chinese higher education system will be unable to sustain a healthy development in the coming century.
Proposed strategies include enhancing management to improve insti- tutional efficiency and effectiveness in resource utilization, making greater efforts to increase state allocations, granting universities more autonomy for revenue generation, and adopting cost-sharing and cost- recovery policies—such as raising tuition fees, coupled with student loans and scholarship programs. The implementation of these changes 15 involves many policy changes and has significant social consequences.
Thus, as in many other countries, the task is a very challenging one. Changing Patterns in the Provision of Higher Education The tremendous demand for higher education opportunities and the constraints of limited public resources for the expansion of public higher education have led to a flourishing of alternative institutions—called min-ban higher education institutions, which means “non-state-run” or “run by the local people. ” According to international standards, these Chinese min-ban institutions are private in nature, but people in China prefer the term min-ban.
The development of these min-ban institu- tions is driven by labor market demand. When employers needed cer- tain types of skills from college graduates and the public institutions could not meet these needs, some individuals came up with programs to fill these manpower gaps. While public universities charge only about 20 percent of the unit cost per student in tuition, min-ban institutions charge 100 percent of the cost. In 1994, the Chinese government for- mulated and promulgated the “Regulations on the Establishment of Min-Ban Higher Education Institutions. In the past few years, about 1,300 min-ban higher education institutions have been established, among which only about 20 were officially accredited and recognized by the national authorities. Even these 20 institutions are usually al- lowed only to issue certificates or diplomas for two- or three-year pro- grams. None are allowed to grant academic degrees—such as bachelor’s, master’s or doctor’s degrees. Currently, these institutions primarily offer low-cost programs in the humanities, the social sciences, management, accounting, and law. They are able to be very flexible and adaptive in their programs.
If managers for hotels, restaurants, and the tourist industry are in short supply, these institutions quickly set up relevant programs. When there is an oversupply of accountants in the labor market, they cut back on their accounting programs. They hire a large number of part-time teachers and retirees from public uni- versities. Thus these new institutions are also very unstable, and far from being well established. There is still no systematic policy frame- work or solid legal infrastructure for private higher education, nor are any official statistics available about these min-ban colleges.
The sta- tistics bureaus simply ignore their existence. Given the huge unmet demand for higher education and the limits on the expansion of public higher education, the private provision of higher education will defi- nitely be one of the most important policy issues that China will face in the coming century. 16 The Impact of Technological Development The advancement of science and technology, especially the revolution in information technology—which has significantly reduced the costs of processing and disseminating knowledge—has dramatically changed the world conomy and higher education. Indeed, as argued in the theme chapter, in China people have already felt the strong impact of advances in information technology on the school-to-work transition, lifelong education, distance education, etc. Even Chinese thinking on the role of universities is changing: in today’s world, no one can deny the fact that a country’s capacity to generate, accumulate, deploy, and utilize knowledge and information is critical for development.
Along with the evolution of the world economy toward a knowledge-based sys- tem, higher productivity and economic growth rely increasingly on the successful integration of innovation, processing, dissemination, and application of knowledge. As knowledge-based institutions, universi- ties, through their teaching, research, and various services to indus- tries and societies, can play this integrating role. As argued by Manuel Castells, if knowledge and information are the electricity of the new world economy, universities are one of the power sources on which the development process of the 21st century has to rely.
This proposition is borne out by some cases of successful development—such as the Stanford-Silicon Valley model in the United States. Chinese universi- ties are moving in this direction. One example is Peking University’s Founder System, which seeks to integrate teaching, research, and in- dustrial development. The issue is how to formulate systematic poli- cies and strategies to assist universities in playing a more significant role in the development process of the new world economy of the 21st century.
It is a real challenge for China, as well as for other countries. 17 III. The Transformation of an Imperial Colony into an Advanced Nation: INDIA IN COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVE SUMA CHITNIS The theme chapter in this book argues for an international dialogue on the challenges and problems that confront higher education worldwide because, although they are presently dealt with as purely national is- sues, both the problems and heir solutions have serious global impli- cations. It further asserts that an intercountry sharing of experience is vital even to country-level deliberations, because the challenges faced by different countries are basically the same, and practically all coun- tries are served by systems of higher education with common roots. The similarities are clear, and are articulated in the theme chapter. It is also the case, however, that important national differences render easy comparisons impossible.
Nonetheless, the distinctiveness of the expe- rience of different countries should, in fact, be used to understand the challenges and the problems in depth and to deliberate together on solutions. The distinctiveness of the Indian experience, as presented in this chap- 19 ter, lies in its history as a developing country. It also lies in the paradox that the university system, on which the country now depends for its advance as an independent nation, was initially designed to function as an instrument of colonial rule.
This chapter briefly describes colo- nial higher education, specifies how the objectives of higher education in independent India are the opposite of the objectives of colonial higher education, offers a brief a glimpse of the balancing act involved in achiev- ing the new objectives, and tries to present some globally relevant les- sons from the Indian experience. Higher Education as an Instrument of Colonial Rule The European system of higher education was introduced into India by the British, in 1857, with the establishment of universities for European education in Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras.
Although modeled after the University of London, these universities were not meant to be insti- tutions for the advancement of knowledge, or full-fledged centers of higher learning. The British government had established them with two limited objectives: first, to introduce the Indian elite to European cul- ture, and thus, to colonize the country culturally; second, to produce a cadre of Indians equipped to serve the British administration in India and to practice the professions of law, medicine, and teaching, as re- quired by the British.
All the three universities, as well as 18 others that had been estab- lished by the time India acquired independence from British colonial rule in 1947, were designed to serve these limited objectives alone. They were, therefore, different from their European counterparts. For instance, only disciplines such as history, philosophy, literature, the languages, law, medicine, and education, considered relevant to the two objectives, were taught. The social sciences, as well as technical and technological subjects, were neglected.
Facilities for studying sci- ence were restricted to the level required to produce school teachers and undergraduate-level college teachers. Facilities for graduate edu- cation and research—even in fields such as medicine and law—al- though considered essential, were practically unavailable. Those who aspired to graduate qualifications or specialization were expected to go to Britain for further education. The emphasis on imbibing European culture and knowledge was so pronounced that universities never really encouraged a spirit of critical inquiry or independent thinking so vital to the advancement of knowl- 20 dge. India has an old tradition of knowledge and learning; in fact, a well-established system of higher education functioned as early as 1000 B. C. In this system, the construction of knowledge, the beliefs on which knowledge is based, basic concepts, and the organization of learning are very different from the European tradition. But the system is vali- dated by the fact that it sustained Indian civilization for centuries. Ini- tially, the British had accepted the indigenous system of knowledge, and allowed institutions for indigenous education to exist.
But with the establishment of the first three universities, the British declared their preference for European knowledge, instituted policies that favored European education, and withdrew their support for indigenous institu- tions. English was established as the only medium of instruction per- mitted for university education. British economic policy, similarly, with- drew support for indigenous crafts, skills, and professional practice, although India was highly advanced in fields such as textiles, architec- ture, waterworks, and medicine.
Together, these two policies steadily created a climate in which indigenous knowledge was rejected and links with traditional learning were broken. Access to higher education was restricted because facilities were mea- ger. In addition, British policies were self-consciously elitist. Whenever it was asked to expand facilities, the British government would argue that the benefits of privileges provided to the elite would eventually trickle down to the masses. Elitism was also encouraged by the fact that instruction was only available in the language of the rulers.
Universities were statutory bodies closely controlled by the govern- ment. Their structure and functioning were governed by a university act passed by the government. The governor of a province was the chancellor of all universities within the province under his jurisdiction. He appointed the vice chancellors, who were second in command and directly in charge of individual universities. Government nominees sat on the all-important bodies—such as the Senate, the Executive Coun- cil, the Academic Council, and committees for the selection of faculty and administrative staff.
The Indian Response Indians valued European higher education as the means to acquire employment in the British establishment; to enter the professions of law, medicine, and teaching as practiced under British rule; and to gain access to European social circles. They valued the English language 21 as a window on the Western world. And they acknowledged the fact that European education had inspired the nationalist movement for free- dom.
But they felt that policies pertaining to university education in India denied Indians the opportunity to advance, distanced them from their own culture, restricted economic growth, and bred continued de- pendency on Britain for knowledge. The determination to free univer- sity education in the country from all these handicaps shaped national- ist dreams and aspirations for higher education in independent India. When India acquired independence, education was chosen to be the principal instrument for the country’s transformation from a poor, de- pendent, economically and technologically backward imperial colony into an advanced nation.
In the larger design for this transformation, which calls for economic development as well as extensive social and political change, higher education was charged with two major respon- sibilities. First, higher education was to provide the manpower required for economic growth and for an efficient delivery of services such as healthcare, transport, communication, and community welfare—con- sidered basic to a developed society—and to contribute to the advance- ment of knowledge in the manner required to place India on par with the developed world. Second, higher education was to function as an instrument of equality.
It was recognized that these objectives were the very opposite of those that universities in British India had served. Nevertheless, it was believed by instituting appropriate policies and facilities it would not be difficult to gear universities to the new objec- tives. The Production of Manpower and the Advancement of Knowledge In order to enable them to advance knowledge and to produce the manpower required, universities in independent India have been equipped with facilities for undergraduate as well as graduate educa- tion, in the full range of disciplines available at universities in devel- oped countries.
At least one agricultural university has been estab- lished in each state. In addition, a new category of national-level apex institutions—such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs)—have been established to pro- vide world-class education in fields such as engineering, technology, management, and medicine, which are considered critical to develop- ment. Several national-level institutions have also been established for research in different fields. All these new institutions have been established in consultation and with assistance from some of the best- 22 nown experts and institutions of higher learning in Europe and North America. The government has, thus, invested heavily in revamping higher education. India no longer depends on developed countries for higher education or for qualified manpower. It has the world’s third-largest pool of scien- tifically and technically trained personnel. The products of Indian higher education are accepted for employment worldwide. Students from other countries, particularly the African countries, come to India for higher studies. Research, which was altogether absent in British India, is now well established.
Until about two decades ago there was euphoria over all this. How- ever, since then, serious problems have surfaced. For instance, highly qualified Indians, particularly the products of prestigious institutions such as the IITs, have been migrating to Europe, North America, and recently to Australia. Although referred to as the “brain drain,” this phe- nomenon was initially celebrated as India’s successful entry into the international market for employment. But it is now resented that, while the migrants prosper, the country is deprived of returns from its mas- sive investment in technical, technological, and professional educa- tion.
Institutions of higher education, particularly the apex institutions, are blamed for their failure to cultivate, among their students, a com- mitment to serve the country. Even more serious is the problem of the underemployment and unem- ployment of graduates. This phenomenon is generally explained away with the statement that the economy has not grown at the pace, and on the scale, required to absorb all the manpower that the institutions of higher education produce.
Yet, many positions in industry, in govern- ment administration, and surprisingly even in educational institutions, lie vacant for want of suitably trained persons. This is in part because qualifications for employment are narrowly and rigidly defined. But it is also due to a measure of mismatch between what higher education produces and what the country needs. The Needs of the Traditional Sector The most disturbing aspect of this mismatch is that the products of the country’s system of higher education are not adequately equipped to serve the traditional sector.
This sector consists of occupations such as agriculture, farming, fishing, forestry, indigenous crafts, services, 23 and trades, and accounts for 70 percent of the economy. Fifty years ago, when India chose massive industrialization as the strategy for economic advance, it was believed that this sector would simultaneously modernize. But this has not happened. Occupations in this sector de- pend almost entirely on indigenous knowledge, skills, and technolo- gies and traditional modes of marketing and management.
It is now pointed out that the economic advance of the country hinges precari- ously on the development of this sector and that its knowledge, tech- nology, skill, and manpower needs, hitherto neglected, must be ur- gently addressed. The experience of some nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), that have made considerable headway in this direction indicates that ad- dressing these problems is not easy. It shows that technologies trans- ferred from developed countries need considerable adaptation before they work satisfactorily in this sector.
Moreover, the people in this sec- tor are unwilling to give up traditional methods and practices, particu- larly because many of these are deeply entrenched in sacred beliefs and customs. By interacting patiently and establishing rapport with the people, these NGOs have been able to enrich traditional skills with modern technologies and bring about substantial change. It is signifi- cant that they in turn have come to understand and appreciate the wealth of wisdom, experience, and knowledge underlying traditional practices and ways.
But firmly anchored in Western technology and thought, unused to interactive learning and teaching, and bound by structural requirements that are highly inflexible, university teachers and researchers in India have been finding it difficult to relate to this sector. Much the same happens with respect to the task of advancing knowl- edge in music, dance, philosophy, psychology, yoga, Ayurvedic and Unani medicine, architecture, astronomy, and a number of other fields where rich stores of knowledge and traditions of learning, banished by the British, now lie waiting to be revived and developed.
Distanced from indigenous knowledge for more than a century, universities have been finding it difficult to relate to it. Keeping Pace with Global Advances and Market Forces While higher education is thus challenged from the grassroots and by the indigenous culture, it is also relentlessly pressed to keep pace with global advances, in the development of both manpower and research. 24
Faced with the competing demands on its resources, the government is unable to provide adequate funds to maintain facilities at the level required—even at institutions such as the IITs and IIMs, internationally recognized for the quality of education. There are other problems. For instance, in order to make their mark in their disciplines, Indian academics prefer to do research and to publish on issues that are of international import. These issues are not always relevant to the country’s needs.
In the international network, they are often exploited by being invited only to provide data from the Indian subcontinent. Meanwhile market-driven demands force institutions of higher education to concentrate on the short-term objective of provid- ing employment-oriented courses, at the cost of their mission to ad- vance knowledge. Because there are few careers in research, very few good students opt for courses that lead to the advancement of knowledge. While the academic purpose is thus relegated to the back- ground, there is no room for a good all-round liberal education either.
More recently, with the liberalization of the country’s economy, global market forces have generated new fears and dilemmas for higher edu- cation in India. In order to take advantage of the low cost of educated labor, multinationals have been locating many of their labor-intensive operations here. While institutions of higher education are pushed to produce appropriate manpower, observers are unsure about whether this will contribute to the country’s economic progress or toward its colonization by the economies of the developed world. Higher Education as an Instrument of Equality
To equalize access, the bottom line of the government’s policy is to provide opportunities for higher education to all those who aspire to it. To serve this commitment, facilities have been massively expanded. Fees have been kept low. The vernacular languages have been intro- duced as the media of instruction. Several universities offer fee waiv- ers to women students. Further, in a bold move to extend access to sectors of the population known to have poor access to university edu- cation, the government has instituted a policy of “reservations. Ac- cording to this policy, it is mandatory for all institutions of higher educa- tion that receive government funding (and almost all do) to reserve a quota of admissions as well as faculty and administrative positions (a) for the castes that are considered to be low in the caste hierarchy and that were therefore traditionally denied the right to education, and (b) 25 for the aborigines or tribes who were traditionally excluded from edu- cation because they functioned outside the mainstream of urban and rural life.
Scholarships and other facilities have also been liberally pro- vided for these two categories. Together, all these provisions have yielded spectacular growth. In 1950– 51 when the country’s First Five Year Plan was launched, there were 27 universities serving 174,000 students. By 1997 there were 229 uni- versities, more than 8,000 colleges, 6. 4 million students, making India’s system of higher education the second-largest in the world. To finance this expansion, the Government of India has consistently increased its share in the total expenditure on higher education—from 49. percent in 1950–51 to more than 90 percent today, although government allo- cations to education have declined to 3. 8 percent of GDP, the lowest in South Asia. It is significant that despite these impressive statistics the enrollment in higher education in India today accounts for barely 6 percent of the relevant age group, as compared to 30 percent in Europe and 50 per- cent in North America. This is partly because the expansion has been offset by the growth of the population in the relevant age group.
Never- theless, the fact illustrates how difficult it is for developing countries to bridge gaps and to keep pace with the developed world. The Pressure of Numbers and the Decline in Quality Although they have been increased phenomenally, facilities fall short of demand. For some professional programs, there are more than 500 applicants per seat. The unrest this generates is so intense that in some states the government has had to administer admissions. To meet the demand, facilities are constantly stretched beyond capacity. As a result, quality suffers.
For instance, when classes were small, teachers were able to encourage questions and stimulate interaction, in spite of teaching by the lecture method, extensively used in the country. But now, as they lecture to large numbers, this is no longer possible. Quality is also affected by the fact that few students are academically motivated. Most pursue a degree for the status it carries and because it is a required qualification for employment. Students in the profes- sional stream take courses that are relevant to their future work, and regardless of their initial attitude, many grow to be interested as they move on.
But more than 70 percent of the students are enrolled in the 26 traditional faculties of arts, science, and commerce, in courses that have little relevance to the occupations they will eventually take up. They are aware of this and therefore indifferent, certificate oriented, and examination driven, as are their teachers. Meanwhile, institutions are weighed down by the bureaucratic requirements of the govern- ment and their own rules and regulations, designed to cope with large numbers.
As the academic purpose has thus receded in importance, malpractice and corruption have grown. Professional education, hith- erto relatively safe from these forces is being slowly sucked in. New Inequalities and the Transformation of the Structure of Opportunities While quality and relevance thus suffers, equality does not fare any better. In fact, new inequalities have emerged. Professional education has steadily grown in prestige. Among professional institutions, the new apex institutions such as the IITs and IIMs are considered to be in a class apart.
It is significant that the students who succeed in the com- petition for admission to professional courses in general, and to these institutions in particular, largely come from more well-to-do, educated homes and sup