Nationalism and Higher Education: Emerging Trends
The effects of globalisation on higher education are well documented. Trends toward product homogeneity and commensurability, reflected in the McDonaldisation theory and the Bologna reality, are manifest. Transnational education is increasingly popular and prevalent, and mobility has arguably become the most important factor in social stratification (Ziguras; Bauman). Equally notable is the sheer expansion of higher education. Across much of the world, higher education has moved from the province of the elites to mainstream society. Interestingly, this sectoral expansion has made higher education more important to the nation-building project, at the same time as its content and delivery are shaped increasingly by the forces of globalisation.
While much emphasis has been placed on the economic benefits to the nation of a tertiary educated populace, less has been written on the potential harnessing of the growing sector to national culture and identity. Nevertheless, several emerging trends in higher education reflect increasing state interest in the sector. There is a growing acknowledgement that, beyond schooling, higher education represents a potential new front in nation-building, albeit one heavily mediated by global forces. The trends include renewed debate about appropriate university curriculum, including teaching of citizenship and national history; increasing regulation tied to new accountability demands of national governments; debate about the desired language of instruction, as non-western nations grapple with the generally anglicised provision of transnational education; concern about ownership of higher education in a time of rising foreign and transnational provision. The following paper examines the methods being used by nations to (re) assert their control over a sector increasingly germane to national identity, and the ways in which contemporary nation-building strategies are being shaped by globalisation.
Keywords: Nationalism, Higher Education, Globalisation, Identity, Culture
Dr Andrew Harvey
Acting Director, Bendigo Campus, La Trobe University