Abstracts of the lectures

Higher education and the needs of society

Jürgen Enders (CHEPS)

Universities are organisations that, in all societies, perform basic functions resulting from the particular combination of educational and scientific, social and economic, cultural and ideological roles assigned to them. They are multi-purpose or multi-product organisations that contribute to the production and application of knowledge, the training of the highly skilled labour force, the social development and educational upgrading of societies, the selection and formation of elites and the generation and transmission of ideology. This range of functions constitutes the key tasks of higher education systems, albeit with different emphases depending on the national context, the historical period, the specific sector and indeed the organisation concerned. What is clear though is that nowadays, universities are heavily involved in literally every kind of social and economic activity in our increasingly dynamic societies. At the same time this makes universities rather vulnerable organisations that tend to be loaded with multiple expectations and growing demands about their role and functioning in our knowledge-driven societies.

Recent debates and developments on higher education as a social need will be addressed with a special focus on the relationship between higher education and the world of work.

Quality, efficiency and equity: the contribution of economic theory to higher education research : Case study: funding models and principles

Ben Jongbloed (Cheps)

Higher education policy research often touches on economic questions, that is: how to allocate scarce resources in the way that contributes most to the objectives of raising quality and efficiency in teaching and research and providing access opportunities for students. Amongst other things, the Economics of Higher Education deals with the following issues:


Why do students attend higher education?


Why do governments intervene in the higher education sector?


How may governments fund the higher education institutions?


What mechanisms to use and incentives to incorporate into the public funding of education?


How can students be asked to contribute towards meeting the cost of their education?


What can governments do to (financially) support the students?


Why and how should research be publicly funded?

During the course of providing an overview of the contribution of economic theory towards answering these questions we will get a better understanding of the pro and contras of introducing market-type steering mechanisms into higher education policies. To clarify the theory, practical examples and empirical evidence is given.

Constructing knowledge societies : new challenges for tertiary education

Jamil Salmi (World Bank)

Developing economies face new trends in the global environment, affecting the purpose of tertiary education systems. Among the most critical dimensions of change are the convergent impacts of globalization, the increasing importance of knowledge as a driver of growth, and the information and communication revolution. Both opportunities and threats are arising out of these new challenges. Tertiary education is central to the creation of the intellectual capacity on which knowledge production and utilization depend. Another favorable development is the emergence of new types of tertiary institutions and forms of competition, inducing traditional institutions to change and take advantage of opportunities offered by the new information and communication technologies. But this technological transformation carries the danger of a growing digital divide among and within nations. At the same time, most developing countries continue to wrestle with difficulties produced by inadequate responses to long standing challenges (sustainable expansion, reduction of inequalities, improvement of quality and relevance, and more effective governance and management). The main purpose of the new World Bank report is to analyze the role of tertiary education in building up a country's capacity to become a knowledge.

Trading public good in the higher education market

Prof. Dr. Frank Newman (Brown University, the Futures Project)

Higher Education plays an ever more critical role in the energizing and supporting of today’s society. But, at the same time that higher education is growing in size and importance, it is also changing. It is becoming more competitive, more global, more influenced by the impact of technology. Most significantly, it is more and more functioning as a market rather than as a regulated public sector. Markets, however, unless carefully structured, do not always serve the public interest. Signs are already appearing of the erosion of some critical public purposes and there is every indication that there will be further erosion. What is the evidence of change so far? What strategic interventions can save higher education’s soul? How can universities prepare themselves for a different and more demanding world?