The pertinence of higher education in a changing world1 - Hebe Vessuri
In a rapidly changing social and natural environment, higher education (HE) is being called upon to play a varied and complex role in development. Pertinence, together with quality, management, financing and international co-operation, is assumed to be one of the key features in the twenty-first century. In general, in the regional conferences held in Havana, Dakar, Tokyo and Palermo in preparation for the World Conference on Higher Education, the term pertinence has been used to refer to the fit or match between what HE institutions do and what society expects of them. It is particularly about the role and place of HE in society, but it also covers access and participation, teaching and learning, the research function of the university, the responsibility of HE to other sectors of society, the world of work and the community service function of HE. No less important is the participation of HE in the search for solutions to pressing human problems such as population, environment, peace and international understanding, democracy and human rights. Another way to consider relevance is to focus on the particular services that HE delivers and to evaluate the type and extent of this service, how it is delivered and how it is valued by 'clients'.
In the competitive context of an increasingly market-oriented world, actors with differing interests join the game, and thus the dimension of pertinence becomes a force-field with conflicting values, philosophies and instrumental interests tugging in different directions. Some of the problems identified by the consultations and expert meetings are due to the failure of HE and training to adapt to a changing world of new societal needs and demands, and to an insufficient commitment by governments, particularly in developing countries, to support the potential of endogenous R&D. It is essential to ensure that the dynamic of renewal already underway in many countries and institutions is generalized to those that have not yet started and is consolidated through the collaboration of all of the parties concerned. Access to HE and the broad range of services it may bring to society is an essential component of any sustainable development programme, for which higher-level human expertise and professional skills are required.
Major intervening factors
THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENT IN HE
The tacit and self-referenced relevance of HE is being re-negotiated throughout the world. Within this common framework, contextual differences are strong, mitigating in the highly industrialized countries and reinforcing in the developing ones, the salient angles of the transformation underway.
POPULATION GROWTH AND POPULATION EDUCATION
Population projections suggest that the world's population will continue to increase from the present figure of around 5.5 billion to 11-14 billion by the end of the next century. UNESCO's projections for student enrolments show a worldwide increase in enrolment from 65 million in 1991 to 79 million in the year 2000, 97 million in 2015 and 100 million in 2025. HE institutions need to incorporate population education concepts and principles into curricula, for many graduates will become managers, planners and policy/decision makers who will need to understand the dynamic inter-relationships among population, the environment, natural resources and national socio-economic development.
GLOBALIZATION, REGIONALIZATION AND SUBREGIONALIZATION
The new trends can be seen in terms of universities as knowledge brokers, global markets for students, international student and faculty mobility, international diploma recognition, availability of programmes through the Internet and the development of strategic alliances between institutions as providers on a global basis. Not all of the internationally geared changes are positive, though, and HE institutions in weaker countries risk losing further relevance unless adequate twinning and co-operation strategies are set in place. At the same time, HE institutions have a key contribution to make in realizing both sub-regional and regional goals in contexts where the role of HE institutions as actors of regional economic development/agents of urban development is growing rapidly.
RAPID SCIENTIFIC PROGRESS
There is continued acceptance of research as an essential element in the mission of HE, for it is evident that no system of HE can fulfil its mission and be a viable ally to society in general unless part of its teaching personnel and its organizational units carry out research. Scientific knowledge is changing very quickly as modern communication technologies facilitate the sharing of information among scientists. The research market will become even more competitive. Large science-based corporations, which always had their own research laboratories, and also health and social welfare organizations, are becoming progressively more sophisticated in terms of basic research—they are often better resourced than many universities and capable of offering better salaries and working conditions to researchers. They are likely to represent increasingly potent competition for HE institutions. The latter may eventually have to decide whether or not to bow out of the competition with corporate laboratories at particular phases of the product life cycle (research, development, evaluation, production, etc.). They may decide to concentrate on particular niches of activity within the cycle for particular scientific areas or embryonic products; or they may even decide to enter into consortium arrangements with companies for a range of purposes, from basic research to production to venture capital. At the same time there is also recognition that R&D is very unequally distributed worldwide, being highly concentrated in the most industrialized countries.
ACCESS AND PARTICIPATION
Continuing high levels of systematic demand for HE provision due to surges in participation rates of school leavers in some countries, increased access of hitherto underprivileged groups elsewhere, widespread acceptance of lifelong learning for professional updating, career chances, etc. as well as frequent mismatches in the supply and demand of highly-trained personnel, means that the methods and contents of HE need to change and take into account current trends and influences if they are to meet the needs and realities of societies. Although in absolute terms expansion is also spectacular in developing countries, the young of those countries have seventeen times fewer chances of continuing into higher studies than the young of industrially developed countries. Privatization of HE is globalized across national boundaries with institutions in disparate geographical locations engaging in twinning arrangements to compete for student markets. Public access to knowledge, even across international boundaries, is increasingly closed off behind the walls of private markets.
INCREASED CULTURAL SENSITIVITY AND PRESSURE FOR DEMOCRACY AND PEACE
This domain is one of considerable ambiguity, elusiveness and rhetoric. Although most HE institutions, or at least universities, share a common set of universal values (pursuit of enquiry, truth, excellence and self-criticism; scope for argument and diversity within a common frame; individual autonomy and freedom; rational economic behaviour; peaceful co-existence and synergy; liberty and democracy; respect for human rights; the sovereignty of the law and ethical considerations; interdenominational ecumenism), problems of national or ethnic identity remain significant. Certain forms of international collaboration are even perceived as threats to them, especially when 'internationalization' sometimes involves aggressive 'proselytization' of certain cultural images or dominance of some value systems at the expense of others.
NEED TO CATER TO MORE DIVERSE CLIENTELES AND CHANGING LABOUR MARKET NEEDS
At the same time that HE moves towards a mass enrolment system due to the pressure of economies becoming increasingly knowledge intensive, there emerges a problem of graduate employment/employability. This situation raises questions about the benefit of tertiary education, the value of the curriculum and learning experience, and the unequal level of attainment upon completion. The world of work is being radically redefined and a large part of the specific knowledge that students acquire during their initial training will rapidly become obsolete. Continuous and interactive partnerships with the productive sector are essential and must be integrated into the overall mission and activities of HE institutions. The world of HE policy formation (previously the preserve of education ministries) is being invaded by ministries centred on science, economic and industrial development, trade, etc., which are concerned primarily with information and communication in a knowledge-based society, while striving for sustainable economies and internationalization concomitant with regional growth.
NEW INSTRUCTIONAL METHODS RESULTING FROM NEW TECHNOLOGY
Accelerated change brought about by the digital revolution has permeated every strata of society. In the educational domain, we have begun to observe that: textbooks can no longer keep up with the growth of information. Richer forms of knowledge transfer are becoming necessary for making complex information easier to learn; there is a broad consensus that jobs in the information age require lifelong education; and the notion that a terminal degree is not as important as lifelong education and the capacity for lifelong learning. Greater access to electronic databases and sources of information, better institutional management, competency-based education and the practical application of improved pedagogical skills and technology may help students learn how to solve problems and find answers.
Developing countries, in particular, face major dilemmas because of the inability of public resources to match expansion demands. The average expenditure per HE student is, in absolute terms, ten times below that of developed countries. But even developed countries have found great difficulty in devising strategies to cope with rapid increases in student enrolments. In many cases, declining levels have resulted in worsening staff-student ratios and staff workload, deteriorating staff working conditions and student services, and inability to maintain infrastructure at previous standards. The retreat of the State from a series of social services in many countries has resulted in greater inequality and poverty. It is likely that in response to the decreased ability of governments almost everywhere to pay for expanded HE, the roles of State and university will have to be redefined, involving a shift towards greater institutional autonomy and self-determination. Most countries appear to be seeking market-oriented economic policies and the political structures and institutions to promote and support them.
SYSTEMS REORGANIZATION AND STRUCTURE DIVERSIFICATION
There is already a flurry of institutional change within HE to cope with these pressures. The pressure of both internal factors (such as changes in academic disciplines and new instructional methods resulting from the application of new technology) and external ones (such as the need to cater to more diverse clienteles and changing labour market needs, which induce the development of continuing education programmes) have led to diversification in structure, curriculum and teaching methods. Particularly important have been the development of new forms of non-university institutions, the establishment and rapid development of distance education, setting up of branches of foreign universities and twinning arrangements. The development of large-scale distance education programmes and open universities has been impressive. Regional and sub-regional associations are coming to play an increasing role in exchange and co-operation.
Challenges to improve pertinence
THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENT
It is abundantly clear that governments have the power to facilitate universities' endeavours to cope with difficulties, or alternatively, to create severe 'infrastructural' or procedural problems that frustrate creative leadership. Constructive partnership between government and university leadership is a critical element in the process of transformation of HE. Such partnerships must be founded on respect for academic freedom and institutional autonomy, which distinguish HE institutions from educational institutions at other levels.
THE IMPACT OF HE ON DEVELOPMENT
According to many political leaders, human resource development is the key to the future for HE, in particular to produce an increasingly large technical, scientific, industrial, managerial and entrepreneurial workforce which is versatile, hardworking, disciplined and conscientious. In most developing countries, the so-called 'innovation chain' is not as well developed as it might be. Perhaps domestic industry does not, or is unable to, support or work with universities, either due to it being dominated by multinationals that use American or European universities for their research needs or because it is made up of small and medium-sized enterprises whose research demands are modest and rarely encompass basic or strategic research. The challenge is for HE to give shape to some of the links in the innovation chain by inducing an entrepreneurial spirit in graduates so that they can themselves become entrepreneurs and efficacious creators of such links.
As for the consequences of the expected high level of systematic demand for HE provision, the negative past experience of many countries makes it necessary to ensure that expansion of access does not lead to a deterioration of quality standards. It is therefore imperative that quality assurance philosophies and instruments are incorporated from the beginning. A substantial paradigm shift in the philosophy of learning is required: funding the expansion by means of increased, not decreased, resources per capita, through the introduction of a fee structure or loans; and a funding of the expansion of part-time education through the extensive involvement of industrial stake-holders in co-operative/in-company education.
CORRECTING REGIONAL AND RURAL/URBAN IMBALANCES
The university is widely recognized to be a significant player in national regions, which in turn are perceived to be major future influences on universities. Synergy is clearly implied alongside potential mutual benefit. Universities have a significant role to play in regional economic development or regeneration, through technology transfer, SME development, continuing/co-operative education and applied contract research; as agents of urban development; as economic generators/local employment services, etc.; and as cultural providers and brokers. The nature of specific regions varies in terms of growth rate and wealth and, therefore, the most appropriate roles which HE can play in relation to the sophistication and need of the particular region will differ. It is desirable that national education programmes aim at diversifying with a greater emphasis on a regionalization of specific disciplines.
It is necessary to diversify HE institutions, not simply to satisfy market needs, but also to ensure the availability of the wider range of knowledge and capabilities needed by all countries to enter the twenty-first century. This diversification will depend to a large extent on the establishment and reinforcement of regional centres of excellence that will provide the necessary capabilities that will serve as the basis of a total reform of the HE sector and will contribute efficaciously to the priorities of national and regional development. Academic staff is the key to the transformation and effective diversification of HE. They determine what goes on in the lecture halls and in the seminar rooms; they design and implement curricular reforms; they help define and execute the research agendas.
CULTURAL IDENTITIES AND GLOBALIZATION
While internationalization is intended to overcome the barriers of isolation, prejudice and parochialism, the educational task is to tear down the dividing walls that preserve separate identities, thereby creating understanding and nurturing empathy, while preserving cultural differences at the same time. Although the university is at the apex of national efforts to foster an awareness of particular cultures and languages, an educational challenge for the new era is to integrate the base of a developed understanding of national interests with an international dimension. HE should provide higher learning that maintains separate identities and yet draws those identities into a larger, more encompassing whole, honouring both particular cultures and a multicultural environment. In the future, HE institutions will think of themselves as being at the 'crossroads' between local and wider identities and be able to elaborate on their peculiar ideological position. HE institutions should also make special efforts to promote integrated programmes aimed at the evolution of a culture of peace and the promotion of sustainable development.
NEW APPROACHES AND TOPICS IN HE
Genuinely interdisciplinary research spawns the new disciplines of tomorrow, and is more likely to be relevant to industrial opportunities and the resolution of industrial or societal problems. Many experts emphasize that HE institutions must be more responsive in meeting the needs of employers and adapting to the generation of new knowledge in various academic disciplines. It is important to carry out a series of case studies on regional priorities in which HE institutions should play an important role. Appropriate emphasis needs to be placed on curriculum renewal. New approaches to both classroom and distance education curricula, which traditionally focus on academic disciplines in arts and sciences and on training for elite professions, now should emphasize applied science and technology, business and management studies, and professional training in such fields as engineering, accounting and computer science.
ADVANCEMENT OF KNOWLEDGE BY RESEARCH
A major policy dilemma for HE systems and research universities is how scarce research resources should be distributed and what mechanisms should be employed to do this. A common trend is the allocation of research funds to institutions and individuals on a competitive basis, depending on the research funds they have already attracted, their publication output, and the number of research higher degree completions that they have sponsored. There is a policy debate about whether research and infrastructure funds should be concentrated to a greater degree in order to develop a small group of stronger, internationally recognized research universities, or whether the current method of competition will ensure a sufficient degree of concentration. In the interest of economic efficiency, the World Bank advises developing and newly industrialized countries to strictly limit the establishment of new research universities and the number of students enrolled in them, and to provide cheaper and more cost-effective alternatives, such as junior colleges, technological institutes and short-cycle institutions, to cater to a large proportion of the student population. Another policy dilemma relates to the balance between basic and applied research. While effective applied research needs to be supported by basic research, the actual mix of basic and applied within a HE system varies greatly, depending on government and institutional priorities, and the respective roles in research by HE and industry within the country. There is a growing feeling that the distinction among basic, strategic and applied research is breaking down in HE institutions genuinely oriented towards economic regeneration and societal modernization. How this synthesis is accelerated and planned for is a genuine agenda item for the next century.
RESPONSIBILITIES TO OTHER EDUCATIONAL LEVELS
It is widely recognized that HE has an important contribution to make to community service and to other education sectors in society. One area where there is consensus that universities can make a major contribution is direct involvement in the training of schoolteachers and in staff-development activities for teachers. However, there is a measure of disappointment with performance, especially with that of some traditional universities. This is unfortunate, since close links with the community and the other education sectors can be of benefit to universities in building wide community and political support, achieving renewal of the curriculum, and sometimes generating new forms of financial support. The last point is particularly important, since in the current environment of financial constraint there is often a strong tendency for universities to decrease or abandon much of their more traditional community service.
The specific aim of HE in connection with the topic of relevance involves mobilizing the responsible actors from the different domains, including politics, university, science, technology, industry and business, building them into a strong coalition, and establishing a permanent dialogue with the ministries of finance and other sources of funding. Recommendations and proposals that should be elaborated are noted here.
Governments must promote education systems and institutions that are open, flexible and capable of efficiently adapting to changes in the social, economic or physical environment. There is a strong need for a clear definition of overall priorities and development policies as well as of the role that HE institutions and training must play within those policies. Countries should create 'observatories' to monitor changes in the labour market in order to facilitate the elaboration of national educational plans and to improve the capacity of HE institutions to align their policies with national priorities. Attention needs to be paid to career prospects and job conditions of students in high-skill courses, such as engineering and technology, for long-term development.
RESPONSIBILITY OF HE TOWARDS OTHER EDUCATION LEVELS
HE has a responsibility towards other levels of education. This is needed not only to ensure that students are better prepared for HE, but also to bring to bear the resources and expertise of the HE community to the tasks of teacher training, socio-economic research on such education variables as school retention and repetition, appropriate pedagogies, and educational policy alternatives, thereby improving education at all levels.
HE institutions must promote processes aimed at regional integration. Cultural and educational integration should be the bases for political and economic integration. In a global environment, HE institutions must approach their studies on regional integration in the light of the specific economic, social, cultural, ecological and political aspects involved. Greater emphasis should be given to the regionalization of specific disciplines, through programmes targeting specific needs that will generate employment. In addition, more industry-based projects and a new paradigm of university-industry partnership must be instituted, especially in developing countries.
Governments must expand and diversify opportunities for every citizen to benefit from higher-level skills, training, knowledge and information—the qualifications for entry into the world of work. Serious efforts should be made to increase participation rates in HE. Appropriate strategies should be taken for increasing the participation of disadvantaged groups, including women and ethnic minorities, who must be encouraged to undertake higher degrees and enter academic and graduate employment.
STAKEHOLDER INVOLVEMENT IN HE
Stakeholder involvement in teaching and learning must go beyond rhetoric. The situation varies with country and institution. Relatively few universities admit systematic stakeholder involvement in course design, or in giving strategic advice on programme developments. Current evidence, however, holds some clues to developments to be expected over the next few years, such as: stable alliances between universities, companies, regional and city governments in strategically conceived programmes of regional development; in-company education programmes (undergraduate and post-graduate); accreditation of prior experience/learning and competency-based education; university degrees with a range of in-company components; company involvement in course design, course review and student assessment; international networking between leading universities in co-operation with the multinational companies in the provision of international programmes.
TEACHING AND LEARNING
There is need for improved staff recruitment methods and improved pre-service and in-service training at all levels. It is also necessary to have greater professional recognition and opportunities to improve career prospects. Local needs should be addressed to, and curricula adapted to, employment needs. Modularization appears as one of the most interesting innovations recently incorporated in the teaching-learning processes, as an alternative to traditional programmes. It includes: sub-contracting some subjects to the faculties of general education (basic sciences, law, etc.); offering the students a large range of courses; and opening some modules to continuing education. Other needs are to support inter-institutional arrangements for specializations and facilitate the sharing of information (scientific, technical or pedagogic issues) as well as exchange of teachers and students; to promote systems and structures allowing staff flexibility among HE, research and extension activities; to actively promote participatory teaching methods using case studies, problem-solving methods, group working and interdisciplinary approaches; to hold regular reviews of curricula and systematic feedback from employers and former graduates; and to increase emphasis on the development of distance learning approaches. In most developing countries special consideration needs to be paid to rural youth, particularly young women, to assist them in qualifying for admittance to HE.
THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF NEW COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES
Recent developments in communication technology offer exciting possibilities for new approaches to packaging information and to course delivery, and for rethinking traditional approaches to teaching and learning. The time has come where technologies will co-evolve with teaching and learning. Not only will technologies be used as productivity tools, but also new needs are bound to be discovered as communication technology transforms education systems. The 'virtual university' technology is not yet mature, and R&D must continue. Technologies must attain an inviting quality to help universities in their transition to the next generation of education. At the same time, new technologies mean that powerful universities can more readily offer degree programmes within the countries of other regions, especially through use of the Internet. Multinational television and communications companies are showing interest in moving into the HE field and they might challenge the traditional monopoly enjoyed by universities and colleges in particular countries.
THE WORLD OF WORK
It is clear that the traditional domains of HE and productive public sectors are overlapping. HE institutions should promote continuous and interactive partnerships with the productive sector using both reactive and proactive approaches. Also, they must help shape the labour market by identifying, independently of the circumstantial interests of enterprises, new local and regional needs, and also by designing mechanisms for retention and career-switching. Greater attention should be given to the particular design and structure of programmes to give useful learning experience to students and employers. These include courses in entrepreneurial skills; company-building and fostering; creation of self-employment possibilities; enterprise in HE; work experience as part of the assessed degree programme; the incorporation of a diploma stage within a degree, with possibilities of employment on its completion or progression to a degree; action learning and project work in industry as the basis for assessed work and theses; and virtual professional environments. Also interesting are the examples of co-operative education and undergraduate or postgraduate degree programmes which are carried out in corporate classrooms and jointly staffed by university and company personnel, as well as co-operative doctoral training contracts. Although there are HE institutions exploring some of these possibilities, most are still at a relatively underdeveloped stage and the next few decades will be an important period. Half-hearted acceptance or rejection of changes is possible, enhancing the likelihood that industry and big employers will seek their own solutions either with other universities or through their own efforts.
To make the changes feasible and sustain the projects envisaged in the long term, dedicated organizational infrastructures and roles are needed, and are clearly being developed, although efforts must be more systematic and encompassing. They include organs within the university to manage particular relevant functions, such as continuous education offices, co-operative education bureaux, distance learning centres, consulting and employment offices, enterprise and industrial affairs offices, research liaison units, technological creation centres or incubators, and stake-holder/university policy or advisory boards. These multilateral bodies are clearly no substitute for productive relationships with particular companies, but they are clearly invaluable in mobilizing whole regions to concerted action with HE institutions, especially if linked to city and regional councils and venture capitalists.
There must be effective research personnel policies for dealing with problems such as: providing inspiring research leadership through active hiring policies and provision of good working conditions and competitive salaries in newer HE institutions; improving the age profile of many HE institutions whose research personnel are in the 40-55 year-old age bracket, with a dearth of opportunities for promotion of younger researchers; providing good staff-research training, especially at the post-doctoral level, together with a creative career structure for researchers and contract staff; reducing the current salary disparity between industry and universities for good researchers. A rationalization of research activities must stimulate countries and HE institutions to effectively co-ordinate their sometimes excessively fragmented research programmes. Thus, special attention needs to be paid to the identification of foci for interdisciplinary centres of excellence. The reason for this is: the recognition that few HE institutions are likely to be excellent across the board; the development of a critical mass in fields of major potential/actual importance to industry; and 'clout' in the international marketplace for funds and personnel. It is also fair to point out a dilemma as to whether groups of this kind are likely to assist humanities research, which has tended to be more individualistic in nature. Brainstorming and think-tank processes may facilitate these developments.
External conditions are a constantly changing mosaic of pressures and possibilities which, whilst they may render detailed planning rather difficult, nonetheless call on institutions to develop alternative scenarios as a basis for mapping strategic directions. In terms of facilitating the adaptation of HE to new global conditions, agendas of institutional change will probably include the following: the development of a more entrepreneurial behaviour culture in universities, particularly in terms of speed of action, both individually and institutionally; a well-articulated policy on intellectual property and patenting; the university as a regional focus for Internet activity; and the imaginative use of doctorates for industrial research and the broadening of its conception (especially so-called 'professional doctorates'). In many systems, it is clear that to enable HE institutions to be adaptive, governments need to revise substantially the regulatory framework governing personnel policy. Otherwise, the chances of dealing constructively with these concerns are vastly reduced. Among the main foci of attention for policy formation are: systematic staff appraisal and development; development of new professional administrative centres; renewable contracts rather than permanent tenure; effective and attractive salary packages, including allowances for intellectual property considerations; equal opportunities; recruitment of a genuinely international faculty; and career shifts and competencies across teaching, research and administrative domains.
Many universities have taken the first steps towards changing the curriculum, with varying degrees of sophistication in terms of credit tariffs, a supporting or dominating regulatory framework and the recasting of the university power structure. Among the motivations are: opening up university courses for access to purposed and interrupted study; encouraging student choice—both in terms of combined studies/double majors, and more eclectic combinations across disciplines; facilitating credit for work-related activities or study—so-called 'accreditation of prior experience/learning'; and assisting student exchange and mobility, especially across international boundaries and within regional networks. It will be a challenge for the next generation to realize these and other possibilities in a creative, flexible and low-cost manner.
AUTONOMY AND ACCOUNTABILITY
Responsible institutional autonomy should be stimulated. This principle upholds the freedom to select staff and students, to determine the conditions under which they remain in the university; to select research topics, curriculum and degree standards; and to allocate funds across different categories of expenditures. In connection with this there is an advance of market philosophies towards HE. Governments and other social actors have proposed new work patterns to universities. For universities to avoid becoming mere arms of the State, they should keep a strategic distance by accepting greater social participation and division of tasks with other HE institutions that can better absorb part of the new social demands. To become more responsive to the needs of society, and in order to acquire greater financial autonomy, HE institutions should create structures for the development and management of consultancy activities, which could become an essential part of their missions. For this to happen, HE institutions need to develop an entrepreneurial spirit as a means of strengthening their service functions.
The topic of evaluation is crucial to accountability. Relevance cannot be achieved at the expense of quality, but quality itself has other social dimensions besides the internal, technical ones of traditional academic evaluation. These dimensions need to be taken into account since the mission of HE is basically a public one. The university curriculum will increasingly be cast in terms of not only the cognitive mastery of disciplines, assessed through conventional examination processes, but skills and competencies beyond the traditional focus on analysis and independent thinking, irrespective of the discipline. These include: seeking and processing information; discerning the essential from the inessential; operating successfully in different cultures; managing change in a variety of settings; promoting creativity and ethics; working in and managing multidisciplinary project teams; and problem-solving.
MAINTENANCE OF MOMENTUM
Governments, in their roles as clients and supervisors, should try to establish policies of continual search for improvement. Systems that have remained unchanged for a long period of time tend to perceive demands for reform as a disruption, rather than as part of the normal pattern keeping the system up-to-date. The experience of South Asia underlies this fact. Adaptation and acceptance of change will be an increasingly critical factor in institutional efficiency in the twenty-first century. Various strategies can be used to assist institutions more effectively with society and client groups. These include mechanisms to identify and collect information from client groups, mechanisms for consultation on curriculum design and renewal with employers and professions, and studies of the experiences of graduates in the workplace. Strategies must be different for the various segments of HE. Non-university HE institutions should maintain or reach adequate levels of quality which respond to new training demands. A major consequence of some of these themes is the enhanced need of HE institutions to cultivate networks.
1. This paper highlights some of the problems, issues and recommendations that were discussed during the regional conferences and expert consultations held in preparation for the World Conference on Higher Education in the Twenty-first Century: Vision and Action, to be held at UNESCO, Paris, 5-9 October 1998, and draws heavily on the rich documentation produced. The references given below indicate the main sources used.
African Regional Consultation Preparatory to the World Conference on Higher Education. 1997. Declaration and action plan on higher education in Africa, Dakar, 1—4 April, UNESCO. 13 p. [Also published in French.]
African Regional Consultation Preparatory to the World Conference on Higher Education. 1997. Roundtable I: report on relevance of higher education. Dakar, 1—4 April, UNESCO.
Barré, R.; Papon, P. 1996. Science and technology systems: a global overview. World science report 1996. Paris, UNESCO.
CRE/CEPES European Regional Forum, Palermo, 24-27 September 1997. Declaration about higher education in Europe: a European agenda for change for higher education in the 21st century. Palermo, CRE/CEPES. 9 p.
CRESALC/UNESCO. 1997. Hacia una nueva educación superior [Towards a new higher education]. Caracas, CRESALC/UNESCO. 248 p.
Davies, J.L. 1997. Comparative analysis of 20 institutional case studies. Paper prepared for the CRE-CEPES European Regional Forum, Palermo, CRE-University of Palermo-UNESCO/CEPES, 24-27 September, 31 p.
Executive Secretariat of the Steering Committee in charge of the preparation of the World Conference on Higher Education. 1997. Consolidated declarations and plans of action of the regional conferences on higher education held in Havana, Dakar, Tokyo and Palermo. Retained lessons. Paris, UNESCO. 40 p.
Garcia Guadilla, C. 1997. El valor de la pertinencia en las dinámicas de transformación de la educación superior en América Latina [The value of relevance in the transformation movements for higher education in Latin America]. In: CRESALC/UNESCO. La educación superior en el siglo XXI. Visión de América Latina y el Caribe. Caracas, CRESALC/UNESCO, p. 47-80.
Harman, G. 1997. Institutional challenges, responses and strategies. Working paper presented at the Regional Conference on Higher Education: National Strategies and Regional Cooperation for the 21" Century, Tokyo, 8-10 July, UNESCO PROAP/Japanese National Commission for UNESCO/UNU/AUAP, p. 27.
Makhubu, L. 1996. Women in science: the case of Africa. World science report 1996, p. 329-33. Paris, UNESCO.
Odhiambo, T. 1996. Africa. World science report 1996, p. 135-48. Paris, UNESCO.
Ping, Ch. 1997. Educational imperatives for a new era. Working paper presented at the Regional Conference on Higher Education: National Strategies and Regional Cooperation for the 21" Century, Tokyo, 8-10 July, UNESCO PROAP/Japanese National Commission for UNESCO/UNU/AUAP, p. 19.
Regional Conference on Higher Education: National Strategies and Regional Co-operation for the 21" Century. Tokyo, 1997. Declaration about higher education in Asia and the Pacific. Tokyo, UNESCO:PROAP/Japanese National Commission for UNESCO/UNU/AUAP, p. 15.
Regional Conference on Policies and Strategies for the Transformation of Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean. 1997. Plan de acción [Plan of Action]. Caracas, CRESALC/UNESCO, p. 11.
Sanyal, B.C. 1997. Strategies for higher education in Asia and the Pacific in the post Cold War era. Regional Conference on Higher Education: National Strategies and Regional Cooperation for the 21st Century, Tokyo, July 8-10, UNESCO: PROAP/Japanese National Commission for UNESCO/UNU/AUAP, p. 29.
Tünnermann, B.C. 1997. La educación superior en América Latina y el Caribe en su contexto económico, político y social [Higher education in Latin America and the Caribbean in its economic, political and social contexts]. In: UNESCO/CRESALC/Ministerio de Educación Superior de la República de Cuba. Hacia una nueva educación superior. Actas de la Conferencia Regional Políticas y Estrategias para la Transformación de la Educación Superior en América Latina y el Caribe, p. 99-169. Caracas, CRESALC/UNESCO.
UNESCO. 1995. Policy paper for change and development in higher education. Paris, UNESCO. [Also published in French and Spanish.]
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