22 SES 09 D, Universities and Partnerships
The formation of higher education research, as an independent direction of research, is connected to the era of student population expansion and the transition to mass higher education in Europe. The preparation of development projects, mostly implemented with state financing and control, provided a serious professional task, for the performance of which higher education research teams and institutions were established. Subsequently to the creation of a higher education institutional system conforming to the conditions of massification, with the dwindling sources of public financing, these institutions primarily fled to under the umbrella of a university. This is how the most significant research hubs known today were created. Their common characteristics are that they have been operating with an international view practically from the beginning, and their dominant questions of interest are the positions, and the changing of the positions, of the principal actors in the higher education arena and within that the main actors in the struggle for resources and influence. The processes taking place in higher education are interpreted in the triangle of the three primary actors, academic oligarchy, state bureaucracy and market competition. The emphasis – in the changing social, economic and political environment – is placed on different areas from time to time: the transformation of the state’s role, the issue of the governance of higher education institutions, the emergence of the entrepreneurial (innovative), managerial university, the matter of the autonomies, the problems of quality and the performance assessment, the establishment of the European Higher Education Area, the globalization of higher education competition, the consequences of the financial, economic crises (2008). While the greatest issue of the present is the new transition: from mass higher education to universal access, this occurs when in the process of expansion the rate of participation exceeds 50%. This constitutes a change into a new era with similar significance as the exit from the elite phase and massification in the second half of the 20th century. The mission of higher education must be reformulated; the approach based on the three primary actors – which determine the functioning of higher education - appears to be obsolete, since additional actors have entered the higher education arena. A precondition of all this is the environment transforming into information based society, which fundamentally changes the techniques of learning and teaching. Passing over the dimensions of space and time expands the possibilities and responsibilities of higher education from all aspects.
These processes have also taken place in the formerly state socialist countries, with some delay, and with attributes originating from the political, social and economic transition process. How can the professionalization of higher education research be characterized in this region?
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