Morsy, Zaghouol & Altbach, Philip (Eds.). (1996)
Higher Education in an International Perspective: Critical Issues.
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 this part.

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. <