Higher Education in Russia: Highly Available, Less Accessible
Сборник докладов по проблемам современного образования и научных исследований в области рекламы и PR
This paper studies transformations in the role of higher education in Russia as represented in official Soviet and post-Soviet policy documents between the 1950s and 2013. The focus is on the categories defining the purposes and tasks of higher education in the larger context of society and economy. There is a basic dichotomy in relation to the purposes and role of higher education, between vocational training (which is seen as a determining factor in the economic development) and personal development/education (seen as a condition of social development). The balance of these two poles, economic instrumentalism and social instrumentalism, changes throughout the history. The Soviet documents emphasized the importance of both, with the predominance of the social instrumentalism. The transitional period of the late 1980s and early 1990s is characterized by increasing humanistic discourse in regard to higher education. Later post-Soviet documents, reflecting neoliberal policies, largely abandon social instrumentalism and more exclusively promote the economic role of higher education. Economic instrumentalism is the meeting point of two historical eras, with their respective ideologies and political agendas. Connecting Soviet and neoliberal discourses highlights the importance of historical legacies in regard to the economic, applied nature of higher education, and underlines the crucial role of the state, which facilitated acceptance of neoliberal agendas in Russian society. The analysis also contributes to further understanding of the nature of the neoliberal reforms globally and in post-socialist countries.
Drawing on the discourse analysis of the higher education policy documents from 1950s to 2013 and interviews in two Russian universities, the chapter addresses the transformations in the purposes of higher education. The findings show that the main dichotomy in regard of the purposes of higher education unfolds between economic instrumentalism (vocational training) and social instrumentalism (personal development). In the Soviet documents, higher education was considered both as an instrument of national socio-economic development (through vocational training) and an instrument of individual growth. The latter role was predominant as education was an essential part of the broader social project of constructing a “new Soviet man”. In the transition period of mid-1980s - mid 1990s the policy discourse reflects an attempt to depart from economic instrumentalism and focus on the humanistic and social nature of education. Later documents present the transition to the economic instrumentalism emphasizing the economic role and economic rationales in higher education policy, which reflects the nature of the recent neoliberal reforms in the country. However, at the institutional level, social reality is more complex: there are significant tensions between economic purposes of higher education, utilitarianism, interiorized by administrators and faculty since the Soviet time, and social mission of higher education they face every day. Revealing the continuities in the discourse over several decades, the chapter shows that the predominance of economic discourse leads to the distortion of the educational mission of higher education, and in the environment impoverished by economic rationales, the importance of the social purposes of higher education has been rising.
How do we understand and explain who has access to higher education? How do we make sense of persisting and new forms of inequality? How can global, national and institutional policymakers and practitioners make higher education more inclusive? Access to Higher Education: Theoretical perspectives and contemporary challenges seeks to update thinking on these questions, combining new voices and emerging perspectives with established writers in the field.
This pioneering text highlights the contribution of social theory to issues of access to education, with chapters introducing and drawing on the works of key interdisciplinary thinkers including Pierre Bourdieu, Margaret Archer, Amartya Sen and Herbert Simon. It then moves to examines how theoretical perspectives can be applied to the contemporary challenges of forging more equal access, with examples drawn from a wide range of contexts, including the UK, the US, Australia, South Africa and Japan.
Global in scope, this book documents the shared nature of the access challenge in a period when higher education is growing rapidly, but inequalities continue to be stark. It concludes by proposing a new direction for research and a reassertion of the role of the researcher as a social activist for disconnected and disadvantaged groups, equipped with the thinking tools needed to move the agenda forward.
Access to Higher Education is a rigorous text for the global research community, with relevance to policymakers, practitioners and postgraduate students interested in social justice and social policy. It provides those with an academic interest in access and a commitment to enhancing policy with theoretical and practical ideas for moving the access agenda forward in their institutional, regional or national contexts.