22 SES 12 D, Transitions and Advancements in HE
This is a research in progress about the public role of the contemporary university (Fondecyt Regular 1141271/Proyecto Redes 140084, Conicyt). It is a continuation of the presentation offered last year at the ECER conference in which I conceptually explored the public role of universities in Chile. On this occasion, we present some preliminary data coming from diverse sources of data.
The concept of public has been defined from diverse disciplines such as economics (Samuelson, 1954), sociology (Burawoy, 2005), philosophy (Habermas, 2010), and political sciences (Hood, 1995). But it is in the last decades, and as a consequence of the privatization of the higher education system, when this concept has been analized in relation with universities (Brunner, 2014; Marginson, 2011; Holmwood, 2011; Nixon, 2011; Masschelein, & Simons, 2009, 2010).
The concept itself is blurred since, traditionally, the concept of ‘public’ has been use as a synonym of ´state’. Thus, especially in Continental Europe, it is typical to use the concept of ‘public universities’ and the concept of state universities as interchangeable terms. Even when universities receive very little money from the state this interchangeability of concepts remains (this is the case of Chile, where some state universities barely receive an 8% of their total fund from the state). In the latter case, universities are state-owned institutions but are financed through a hybrid scheme, in which public universities have to seek private sources of funding.
Although there are several definitions that can be considered to define the public role of universities (for example, the distinction between the public good (singular’ and the ‘public goods’ (plural) (Marginson, 2011) or the concept of ‘public sphere’ (Habermas, 2010), in this paper we want to pay attention to the public role of universities from a social perspective. From here, questions about the role of the contemporary university in promoting a more equalitarian society arise.
During the 60s and the 70s, the university experienced important transformations in terms of coverage. The elite university gave way to a massive university. First generation students filled the university classrooms with the promise of improving their quality life. As a consequence, students from different backgrounds attended the university and processes of social mobility took place. Nevertheless, after this process of massification, universities have being experiencing in the last decades a new kind of segmentation within the university and among them. In Chile, nowadays, it is possible, to distinguish between world-class universities (Altbach, 2004) or research-oriented universities from lower-lower class universities – usually teaching-oriented universities. Research–intensive universities are prestigious and have developed a strict process to select students who usually belong to the upper classes. Another kind of segmentation within universities is that one among disciplines: STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) enjoy higher status than humanities and social sciences and funding policies tend to benefit the former ones.
Given this situation, in this paper, we address the question as to whether the contemporary university is developing a more inclusive discourse as well as putting in practice some mechanisms to palliate segmentation either in a more local way or in connection with public policies.
Altbach, P. G. (2004). The costs and benefits of world-class universities.Academe, 90(1), 20-23. Brunner, J. J. (2014). Transformación de lo público y el reto de la innovación universitaria. Bordón revista de Pedadogía. Número monográfico Gobierno y gobernanza de la universidad: el debate emergente, 45-60. Burawoy, M. (2011). Redefining the public university: Global and national contexts. A Manifesto for the Public University London, Bloomsbury, 27-41. Glaser, B. G., & Strauss, A. (1967). L.(1967). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research.Habermas, J. (2010). The Public Sphere: An Encyclopedia Article (1964). The Idea of the Public Sphere: A Reader, 114. Holmwood, J. (Ed.). (2011). A manifesto for the public university. A&C Black. Hood, C. 1995. The" new public management" in the 1980s: Variations on a theme. Accounting Organisations and Society 20:93-93. Joignant, A. (2011). The Politics of Technopols: Resources, Political Competence and Collective Marginson, S. (2011). Higher education and public good. Higher Education Quarterly, 65(4), 411-433. Masschelein, J. & Simons, M. (2010). The University: A Public Issue. En Barnett, R. (2012) (Ed.). The Future University. Ideas and possibilities (pp. 165-177). New York: Routledge. Nixon, J. (2011). Higher Education and the Public Good: Imagining the University. London & New York: Continuum International Publishing Group Samuelson, P. (1954) The Pure Theory of Public Expenditure. Review of Economics and Statistics, 36 (4), pp. 387–389. Scott, D. (2014). Ontology, Epistemology, Strategy and Method in Educational Research. A Critical Realist Approach. Magis, Revista Internacional de Investigación en Educación, 7(14), 29-38.
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