Preface: Challenges and advantages of exploring post-Soviet higher education
This volume provides a critical perspective on the Soviet legacy of superpower competition in the higher education systems of China and Russia. The book examines the tensions among multi-level forces that strive to advance progressive university policies and practices on the one hand, and on the other hand work to restore old-style hyper-centralization and indoctrination. It tracks the de-Sovietization of higher education, which aimed to integrate Chinese and Russian universities into global higher education but resulted in inducing status anxiety in the global hierarchies of knowledge development.
Anatoly V. Oleksiyenko is Associate Professor of Higher Education and a member of the Comparative Education Research Centre at The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR. Qiang Zha is Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, York University, Canada. Igor Chirikov is Senior Research Fellow and Vice-Rector of the National Research University “Higher School of Economics”, Mos- cow, Russian Federation. Jun Li is Professor of Education, University of Western Ontario, Canada.
The concluding chapter takes stock of the book’s core notion of high participation systems (HPS) of higher education, in the context of the eight country studies and seventeen HPS propositions. The propositions engender extensive, though not unanimous, support. Declining institutional diversity and more complex governance are broadly agreed, but Finland and Norway differ from the other cases in stratification and equity. The HPS theory and findings are compared and contrasted with Martin Trow’s seminal work. The book ends with a central and enduring tension in HPS. Higher education as self-formation empowers individual agency in HPS on a larger and more inclusive scale. Yet, in HPS those without higher education are more disadvantaged; the average graduate has less social and occupational distinction; and secular tendencies to intensive competition for elite education and institutional bifurcation lead to greater inequality in educational and social outcomes, unless Nordic-style values are sustained.