Table of Contents

Handbook on Globalization and Higher Education

Handbook on Globalization and Higher Education

Elgar original reference

Edited by Roger King, Simon Marginson and Rajani Naidoo

Higher education has entered centre-stage in the context of the knowledge economy and has been deployed in the search for economic competitiveness and social development. Against this backdrop, this highly illuminating Handbook explores worldwide convergences and divergences in national higher education systems resulting from increased global co-operation and competition.

Chapter 1: Introduction to Part I

Simon Marginson

Subjects: economics and finance, economics of education, international economics, education, economics of education, education policy, politics and public policy, education policy, public policy


Simon Marginson Codified knowledge and higher education have always been, in one respect, essentially global. From their beginning in India (Tilak, 2008) they derived their meaning and value from the movement of ideas and people between place-bound centers of learning. No doubt cultural globalization of a kind has a long history, back to the radiation of farming in the Neolithic age and before, but the first global process we can identify with certainty is the spread of the Asian world religions, which began almost 3000 years ago. Centers of higher education were outgrowths of religious organization. Their distinguishing feature was that their main purpose became learning and scholarship, not worship. This enabled them to contribute to a variety of purposes, providing their local autonomy was sustained and they retained a recognizable position within larger networks of universal knowledge. In the third century BCE the library and academy at Alexandria consolidated Greek and Persian learning under the Ptolemaic Dynasty in Egypt, becoming associated with path-breaking achievements in science, medicine and technology. In the sixth century CE in China the Sui Dynasty introduced written examinations of candidates for bureaucratic office to ensure they were steeped in Confucian attributes. In the Tang regime that followed, Wu Chao, China’s only ruling empress, who reigned at the peak of the greatest of all China’s dynasties, ‘wished to further the formation of a new class of administrators recruited by competition’ (Gernet, 1996, p. 257). She consolidated the civil service examination and grades of seniority, founded schools,...