22 SES 04 B, Policy, Management and Governance in Higher Education
This research in progress is being conducted by a research team in Chile of which I am the principal researcher. It seeks to explore and discuss the meanings associated with the public role of universities. Several authors believe that universities have a public commitment to society, beyond the responsibilities that arise from any public funding that they may receive (Nixon, 2012a). Contemporary scholars (Wheelahan, 2010) offer diverse concepts of the public role of universities that both overlap and are fuzzy: the university as a 'public good' (Marginson; 2007; Nixon, 2012a); the 'civic university' (Watson, 2007); the 'public university' (Holmwood, 2011); the 'public engagement' of the global university (Masschelein & Simons, 2009); and 'the publics' (plural) in/of the university addressing the needs and rights of various civil society groups (Barnett, forthcoming).
Other authors conceive of widening participation as part of the public role of universities, especially in the case of disadvantaged sectors within society (Burawoy, 2005). Some others consider that universities contribute to the public sphere through the generation, transfer and socialization of scientific knowledge (Guzmán-Valenzuela, Fondecyt 11110102) and to the extent academics participate in the public sphere (Saïd, 1994) or even in the implementation of public policies (Joignant, 2011).
The case of Chile
In Chile, in higher education, the concept of ‘public’ is blurred, problematic and even contradictory. There, the ‘public’ has, as part of its context, neoliberal policies and marketization, of which Chile is a paradigmatic case. Compared with other OECD countries, Chile has one of the highest rates of private sector investment in tertiary education (OECD, 2010). In Chile, only one in four universities is public (sixteen public universities in total) receiving about a 13% of funding state (Contraloría General de la República, 2012). The latter has impelled the public universities to seek new funding formulas and compete with private universities. Under these circumstances it becomes difficult for state universities to maintain a sense of ‘public’, still less to develop their relationship with society.
Both in Chile and many other countries, universities have a hybrid funding (both state and private) (Brunner & Peña, 2011). However, in Chile, not only do some private universities receive direct funding from the state but they also receive in total more state funds than state universities (Contraloría General de la República, 2012). In short, in Chile, state universities receive fewer funds from the state than private traditional universities. A question here arises with particular force: should private universities in Chile be committed in any way to the public sphere?
Further, in Chile, both state and traditional private universities select students by using an entrance examination. Since the higher scoring school-leavers are drawn largely from private schools, the country’s higher education system is highly segmented and elitist (only 10% of population has access to private schools in Chile (Simbürger, 2013)). On the other hand, in Chile since the 80s – under the Pinochet regime - there has been a rapid growth of private universities. In the three-year period from 1987 to 1990, the number of private universities rose from 3 to 40 (Brunner, 2009a). Several of these private universities are especially focused on socially disadvantaged groups allowing university access to first-generation families (Zapata & Tejeda, 2009b). Nevertheless, some of these universities have been accused of profit-making, a matter that is highly contentious since in Chile, by law, universities are required to be non-profit institutions.
Barnett, R. (forthcoming). Chapter for SRHE volume on the public university. In Search of a Public: Higher Education in a Global Age. Brunner, J. & Peña, C. (Eds.) (2011). El conflicto de las universidades: Entre lo público y lo privado. Santiago: Universidad Diego Portales. Burawoy, M. (2005). American Sociological Association Presidential Address: For Public Sociology. The British Journal of Sociology, 56 (2), pp.259-294. Contraloría General de la República (2012). Financiamiento Fiscal a la Educación Superior 2011. Fairclough, N. (1993). Critical discourse analysis and the marketization of public discourse: the universities. Discourse & Society, 4, pp. 133-168. Fanghanel, J. (2012b) Worldly becoming: resisting liberalism in universities. European Conference on Educational Research (ECER), September 2012. Cadiz, Spain. Guzmán, C. (2011). FONDECYT INICIO 11110102 ¿Qué significa ser un académico universitario?: construcción de identidades en la universidad del siglo XXI. CONICYT-Chile. Holmwood, J. (Ed.) (2011). A Manifesto for the Public University. London: Bloomsbury. Joignant, A. (2011). The Politics of Technopols: Resources, Political Competence and Collective Leadership in Chile, 1990–2010. Journal of Latin American Studies, 43(3), pp. 517-546. Marginson, S. (Ed.) (2007). Prospects of Higher Education: Globalization, Market Competition , Public Goods and the Future of the University. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. Masschelein, J. & Simons, M. (2009). The Public and Its University: beyond learning for civic employability? European Educational Research Journal, 8(2), pp. 204-217. Nixon, J. (2012a). Universities and the Common Good. En Barnett, R. (2012) (Ed.). The Future University. Ideas and possibilities, (pp. 141-155). New York: Routledge. Nixon, J. (2012b). Interpretive Pedagogies for Higher Education: Arendt, Berger, Said, Nussbaum and Their Legacies. London: Continuum International Publishing OECD (2010) Education at a glance 2010. http://www.oecd.org /edu/highereducationandadultlearning/48631582.pdf Saïd, E. (1994). Representations of the Intellectual. The 1993 Reith Lectures. New York: Vintage Books. Simbürger, E. (2013). Moving through the city: visual discourses of upward social mobility in higher education advertisements on public transport in Santiago de Chile. Visual Studies, 28(1), pp. 67-77. Watson, D. (2007). Managing Civic and Community Engagement. Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill and Open University Press. Wheelahan, L. (2010). Accessing Knowledge in the University of the Future: Lessons from Australia. En Barnett, R. (2012) (Ed.). The Future University. Ideas and possibilities, (pp.39-49). New York: Routledge. Zapata, G. & Tejeda, I. (2009). Proyecto ALFA “Aseguramiento de la calidad: Políticas públicas y gestión universitaria”. En Educación superior y mecanismos de aseguramiento de la calidad – Informe nacional. Chile: CINDA.
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