Higher education finances lie at the crossroads in many Western countries. On the one hand, the surging demand of the past three or four decades, driven by a belief in higher education as a principal engine of social and economic advancement, has led to dramatic growth of the higher education systems in these countries. On the other hand, this growth in demand was accompanied by rapidly increasing per-student cost pressures at a time when governments seemed increasingly unable to keep pace with these cost pressures through public revenues. Hence, worldwide, the most common approach to the need for increasing revenue was to use some form or forms of cost sharing, or the shift of some of the higher educational per-student costs from governments and taxpayers to parents and students. This raises several important challenges to higher education systems. First, there is the political and social controversy associated with most forms of cost-sharing, particularly with tuition fees. Secondly, there are important issues in terms of the broad context of social policy, such as the role of families and students and the relationship that the state establishes with each of them. Third, there is the comparison of alternative instruments of cost-sharing and the direct and indirect effects of each of them, notably in terms of educational equality. Overall, underlying cost-sharing debates are fundamental questions about social choice, individual opportunities, and the role of government in society.
This book analyzes the reforms that led to a differentiated landscape of higher education systems after university practices and governance were considered poorly adapted to contemporary settings and to their new missions. This has led to a growing institutional differentiation in many higher education systems. This differentiation has certainly contributed to making the institutional landscape more diverse across and within higher education systems. This book covers this diversity. Each part corresponds to a different but complementary way of looking at reforms and highlights what can be learnt on specific cases by adopting a specific perspective. The first part analyzes the ongoing reforms and their evolution, identifies their internal contradictions, as well as the redefinitions and reorientations they experience, and reveals the ideas, representations, ideologies and theories on which they are built. The second part includes comparison between countries but also other comparative perspectives such as how one reform is developed in different regions of the same country, as well as how comparable reforms are declined to different sectors. The last part addresses the impact of the reforms. What is known about the effectiveness of such instruments on higher education systems? This part shows that reforms provoke new power games and reconfigure power relations.