Center for Studies in Higher Education
HIGHER EDUCATION’S NEW GLOBAL ORDER: How and Why Governments are Creating Structured Opportunity Markets
- Author(s): John Aubrey Douglass
- et al.
In the United States, developing human capital for both economic and social benefit is an idea as old as the nation itself and led to the emergence of world’s first mass higher education system. Now most other nations are racing to expand access to universities and colleges and to expand their role in society. Higher education is growing markedly in its importance for building a culture of aspiration and, in turn, the formation of human capital, the promotion of socioeconomic mobility, and the determination of national economic competitiveness. This paper outlines a convergence of approaches toward building what I call "Structured Opportunity Markets" (SOM) in higher education — including diversified providers and expanding enrollment and program capacity. Increasingly, higher education systems in developed and developing nations, and in some cases, supranational entities such as the European Union and emerging cooperation among nations in South East Asia, will move to most if not all of the components of SOM, in part influenced by a global process of policy transfer. Those nations and regions that do not pursue major components of SOM will be compelled to present rational arguments in both domestic and international forums as to why they are not adopting some aspects of the model. The paper concludes by arguing that while the US offers structural and operational models for many evolving national higher education systems, the EU offers important insights on how to pursue higher education reform in the modern and increasingly competitive global context.