Understanding the contributions of higher education through the politics of reform
Identifying higher education’s contributions is difficult to do in the abstract and precise empirical measurement and attribution faces methodological and empirical challenges. To address these challenges, the chapter proposes an inductive approach involving description and analysis of reform policies, as a means of understanding the evolving expectations about the contributions of higher education, placed on the sector, through the political economy of reform. The chapter considers four examples: the Bologna Processes in Europe, student success reforms in the United States, and world class university initiatives in Russia and China. The cases are not assumed to be equivalent or directly comparable, but together suggests that inductive policy review can identify priorities expected from higher education and, from those, the evolution of expected contributions, as well as the actors involved in setting priorities.