22 SES 07 D, Higher Education Reforms
Author has relied on new institutional and critical theories (Husen et al. 1998, Santiago 2008) and developed a system of social scientific concepts (Haav 2008). It defines most general concepts like man, society, culture and nature as integrated. Next, the relations between individual and society are described by dichotomous concepts of social actors and structures. The social actors are classified on the basis of their different rights to regulate their relations. In market economy, the main actors (producers and consumers) are equal on the market place. In private companies, the main actors (entrepreneurs, managers and employees) are unequal. In democratic countries, the main actors are citizens, politicians, civil servants and administrators. All citizens have equal rights and they elect their representatives (politicians) by democratic model. The politicians execute their power in hierarchical way. Democratic countries combine the two main models of decision making: democratic election and hierarchical administration. In the last decades, the traditional authoritarian and democratic models have been complemented with participation of main stakeholders (or partnership). These models have different roles in practice of business, public and educational organizations. A proper balance of these models improves the results. The main models can be justified by different sociological theories: functional harmony and/or pluralist conflict. The functional model enables to hide and justify a misuse of power by authorities.
In 1990s, there was much criticism on authoritarian, bureaucratic and corporatist management in Estonia. I have reviewed this in some publications (e. g., in 1998). In this period, Estonian representative democracy was complemented with participation of interest groups. School and university councils can be considered as partnerships of main stakeholders. Still, these alterations did not change the dominant practices. In the former Soviet Union, the Communist ideology relied on double standards and implemented them differently for Communist and democratic countries. It argued that there was a harmony in the former and class conflicts in the latter. In fact, the pluralist model was more adequate for the Communist countries, too. Now, what has happened after the collapse of the Communist regimes? Did the role of authoritarian model diminish and that of participative and pluralist models increase? I will use a complex of methods to analyse the trends in Estonia. It is expected that the trends are similar in many other post-communist countries.
In education, the centralized and hierarchical school system was replaced by the de-centralized, but still hierarchical neo-liberal system. In higher education, the relations between academic oligarchy, state and market have been changed. The former state universities have become independent. The highest power have the university councils. All higher education institutions (HEI) have the rights to introduce new curricula. All HEIs have the right to introduce the study fees (until 2014). In Tartu and Tallinn Universities, about half of students have paid fees until 2014. In 1990s, in the period of six years, the number of students doubled. Estonia followed the Bologna process and introduced 3-years curricula for Bachelors (instead of 5-years) and 2-years for Masters. The roles of decision making have changed, but the autocratic model has remained dominant. and have been changed. The role of the functional has not diminished and that of pluralist theories has remained insignificant.
In this respect, the introduction of the outcome-oriented curricula into HEIs is interesting and exceptional. In this period, 2006-2009, they also critically studied educational processes (Pilli and Valk 2008, Rutiku and Lehtsaar 2006). The Instructions (2009) recommended pluralist model: all stakeholders should take part in curriculum development. Unfortunately, only few implemented it. In most cases, neither educational management nor policies supported the curriculum development and stakeholders’ participation.
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