Mass tertiary education in the developing world

November 14, 2007, [MD]

I am currently preparing to give a lecture on open education and global ICT trends next week, and I am doing some readings. The following article is quite interesting, although a bit controversial, and I thought I’d just post my notes here.

Daniel, J., Kanwar, A., Uvali-Trumbi, S. (2007).Mass Tertiary Education in the Developing World: Distant Prospect or Distinct Possibility?Commonwealth of Learning.

I found the following statement very interesting:

Fees are a special problem for those countries that made tertiary education free - i.e., totally subsidized by the state - in the days when only a tiny proportion of the population was expected to go to university. At that time entry to tertiary education was highly competitive but many citizens believed - and still believe - that the combination of competitive entry and free tuition would produce equitable participation in tertiary education from all socio-economic groups. Research now shows that this is simply not true (e.g. Levin, 1990). The socio-economic profile of students in countries that charge fees while providing scholarships and loans for poorer students is more broadly based than in those that do not charge fees. This is a very important finding, and one that governments are gradually finding the courage to act on.

(His reference, which I should try to hunt down, is Levin, B (1990) Tuition Fees and University Accessibility, Canadian Public Policy, Vol. XVI:1 , pp. 51-59 - JSTOR link). Coming from a country with universal free higher education (Norway), I question this statement, although I’d certainly like to know more about it.

Three things that I came across during this reading:


Stian Håklev November 14, 2007 Toronto, Canada
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