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CFP: Politics of Access in Higher Education Systems (2016 ECPR)

Panel: Politics of Access in Higher Education Systems

  • Co-chairs: Beverley Barrett, University of Houston (beverly.barrett@gmail.com) and Karel Sima, Centre for Higher Education Studies, Czech Republic (karel.sima@centrum.cz)

Expectations for greater access to higher education systems have followed trends reflecting an increasing number of democratic countries in recent decades. Given the acceleration of globalization, with pressure for greater access to higher education, the politics of access for domestic and international students remains contentious for entry into competitive academic programs worldwide.  Considering the power of ideas, interests, and institutions, how do specific national goals and policy strategies to increase educational access compare across countries and across regions?  In which countries and regions are trends for increasing educational access most innovative and most effective?

We invite contributions that compare and examine the extent to which these higher education access initiatives, across continents, support learning objectives and graduation outcomes that are innovative and effective supporting employability.  In recent years, we have observed a proliferation of national and regional strategies for increasing access to higher education around the world: in Africa, Asia, Latin America, North America and Europe. The European drive to consolidate the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), since the early 2000s, has higher education attainment as an explicit objective.

This panel focuses on questions that address how national policy strategies on access confront current issues and developing trends. What are the higher education policies to accommodate domestic and international students towards the goal of increasing access? What are innovative and effective policy instruments, and what have been their impacts across countries and continents? How do unique actors (governments, institutions, academics, students etc.) actively engage in decision-making processes in complex multi-actor environments reflecting distinct preferences and goals?

The wave of higher education expansion in Western world in the 20th century was fuelled by the population growth of post-war baby boomers. This resulted in mass higher education systems in most of the European and American countries. Consequently the student populations have substantially changed reflecting sociocultural diversity. Furthermore, internationalisation has become an objective for higher education in the 21st century in the EHEA and across continents. These trends have changed not only the form and content of higher education, but also education’s role in the knowledge-based economy and society.

The international mobility of students in higher education continues to accelerate. Countries seek to retain talented students, supporting objectives towards national competitiveness, while being open to global talent, overlapping with objectives for internationalisation. As countries become more developed, access issues continue to become more pressing within a knowledge-driven economy. Developing economies that can accommodate increased access to education, at every level, are investing invaluable knowledge creation that leads to productivity.

This panel addresses trends for increasing educational access, identifying innovative and effective national policy strategies that address challenges of the internationalised mass higher education of the 21st century. We invite contributions that would analyse these trends on various levels of governance, and from perspectives of multiple actors, as well as those that employ a comparative approach on international, institutional, and disciplinary levels.  

This panel is proposed for the 2016 ECPR Section (7-10 September 2016, Prague). Please contact the panel co-chairs before 24 January 2016 if you are interested in submitting a paper for this panel. 

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