Morsy, Zaghouol & Altbach,
Philip (Eds.). (1996)
Higher Education in an International Perspective:
New York: Garland 212 pp.
Reviewed By Mary Ann Danowitz Sagaria
The Ohio State University
June 1, 1998
Higher Education in an International Perspective: Critical Issues
is a comprehensive overview of important and relevant thinking and research
about higher education throughout the world. The volume is based on
two special issues of Prospects, UNESCO's quarterly review of
education (Numbers 78 and 79, 1991), which were subsequently published
in book form by UNESCO and Advent Books, Inc. under the title Higher
Education in International Perspective: Toward the 21st Century.
Although the essays in the recently released text were written several
years ago, they effectively document timely key issues such as democratization
and increased access to higher education, autonomy, imitation and dependency
of foreign models, and the role and purpose of research.
The book is in two parts and has sixteen chapters written by distinguished
educational specialists from many different countries and regions of
the world. Part one, Situation, Challenges, and Prospects, provides
a history of Western universities by Torsten Husén of Sweden and a concise
description of patterns of higher education development evident in the
post-Second World War period by Philip G. Altbach of the United States.
This follows by a commentary on autonomy and accountability by Orlando
Albornoz of Venezuela and comparisons of open universities by Tony Kaye
and Greville Rumble of the United Kingdom. Jandhyala B. G. Tilak of
India focuses on privatization of higher education as a policy strategy
while Abdallah Larouri of Morocco attends to the relationship between
scientific and academic research and academic development. The observations
on universities and national development in developing countries by
Lawrence J. Saha of the United States and the analyses of financing
of post-compulsory education Jean- Claude Eicher and Thierry Chevaillier
close this section.
In part two the authors provide valuable case studies, often critical
or reformist in tone, about developments in higher education internationally.
This section opens with analyses of higher education and regional problems
with François Orivel of France focusing on French-speaking sub-Saharan
Africa, Brazilian Simon Schwartzman on Latin America and Lebanese Raji
Abu-Chacra on the Arab states. This is followed by accounts of restructuring
and change in newly industrializing countries--in Asia written by Jasbir
Sarjit Singh of Malaysia, in Eastern and Central Europe by Jan Sadlak
from Poland and Canada, and in the European Union by Hywel Ceri Jones
from the United Kingdom. Descriptions of Western higher educational
policy models include those by Osmo Kivinen and Risto Rinne of Finland
along with those of the United States by D. Bruce Johnstone complete
The book admirably succeeds in presenting the philosophical and intellectual
forces and political and economic conditions that have shaped higher
education internationally. Important contributions are made in excellent
historical overviews and conceptual analyses of European and United
States' systems of higher education. Most useful is the highlighting
of models of tertiary education, democratization, and diversification
in relationship to increased access and enrollment growth in both industrialized
and Third World nations.
The book makes an especially important contribution to understanding
the similarities and differences in the textures and contours of the
landscape of international higher education. This is most vividly illustrated
through the well-crafted and documented case studies. The authors introduce
various ideological standpoints and global problems through crisp and
insightful analyses of national and regional contexts. For example,
Simon Schwartzman's assessment of Latin America eloquently articulates
the phenomenon of governments becomingly increasingly less able to maintain,
supervise and care for the quality of higher education. This theme reverberates
in other chapters but it is most poignant in François Orivel's assessment
of the financial crises in sub-Saharan Africa and his general conclusion
that in a world--and regions--of limited resources, emphasizing funding
in higher education is inevitably being achieved at the expense of other
levels of education.
The chapters of Higher Education in an International Perspective:
Critical Issues can very easily be read as key briefings on geopolitical
areas for those with minimal regional or country understandings as well
as on higher education issues and problems for those with a basic understanding
of education. In short, this highly readable text has continuing relevance
as a resource for both scholars and practitioners with a general interest
in higher education internationally.
About the Reviewer
Mary Ann Danowitz Sagaria is an Associate Professor in the School of
Educational Policy and Leadership, The Ohio State University.