22 SES 05 E, Governance in Higher Education
In the last decades, we have seen a marked increase in private provision of higher education (Altbach & Levy, 2005), cost-sharing (Johnstone, 2004) and market-based autonomy of higher education institutions (HEIs). Both developed and developing countries took part in this trend towards privatization.
In contrast, the Central-Eastern European (CEE) countries had, in recent years, experienced a decrease in absolute enrollments to private HEIs and in the ratio of private to public school enrollment. The main drivers of this regional counter-trend are demographic – a dramatic fall in the birthrates in the 1990s made new entrants into HEIs scarce, and systemic – private institutions in the region are often of the demand-absorbing, teaching-oriented and independent variety, which greatly reduces their opportunities to cope with a fall in demand (Kwiek, 2014).
M. Kwiek calls this process the “de-privatization” (Kwiek, 2014; 2015) of higher education. In Poland, a country that is the main subject of Kwiek’s analysis, there has been a fall in private provisions and cost-sharing along with policy changes that greatly reduced HEIs autonomy vis-à-vis the state. This “demographically-driven public-private re-balancing process” (Kwiek, 2015) will most likely continue until the polish HE system, once the most privatized in Europe, will revert back to the continental Europe’s norm of high centralization, and tax-based provision.
The purpose of this presentation is twofold – first it aims to provide an estimation of how widespread the process of de-privatization is in Central-Eastern European countries. This will be based on country-level data concerning enrollments and financial situation of HEIs in the region. Second, I will try to show, how different features of the HE systems and government policy suppress or strengthen the process of de-privatization in its three dimensions – provision, cost-sharing and autonomy. The whole post-communist bloc experiences similar demographic pressures and shares certain systemic features (such as co-existence of a tax-based public HE sector and demand-absorbing private HEIs) but there is also considerable differentiation of social, economic and political conditions that may impact the way in which governments intervene. The example of Portugal, which is the only western country that experienced similar changes (Teixeira & Koryakina, 2015), shows that there are many ways in which the pain of lower demand can be spread amongst the HE stakeholders and providers.
I hope that my presentation will contribute to our understanding of a new regional dynamics in the CEE region, and also to the knowledge we have about privatization – a dominant trend in modern HE that, as it seems, can be stopped (and even reversed) by something so rarely discussed as demographic change.
Altbach, P.G., Levy, D.C. (2005). Private higher education: a global revolution. Vol. 2. Rotterdam, Taipei: Sense Publishers. Johnstone, D.B. (2004). The economics and politics of cost sharing in higher education: comparative perspectives. Economics of education review, vol 23(4), pp.403-410. Kwiek, M. (2014). From Growth to Decline? Demand-Absorbing Private Higher Education when Demand is Over. http://www.unesco.amu.edu.pl/kwiek/pdf/Kwiek_PHE_Demand_Over_2014.pdf . Kwiek, M. (2015). From Privatization (of the Expansion Era) to De-privatization (of the Contraction Era). A National Counter-Trend in a Global Context. W: S. Slaughter, B.J. Taylor (Eds.), Stratification, Privatization, and Employability of higher education in the US and EU. Dordrecht, Heidelberg, New York, London: Springer. Teixeira, P., Koryakina, T. (2015). Political Instability, Austerity and Wishful Thinking: Analysing Stakeholders' Perceptions of Higher Education's Funding Reforms in Portugal. European Journal of Education.
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