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Dirk Van Damme and Marijk Van der Wende

This chapter discusses the recent and unanticipated changes in the global political context in which higher education operates in the early twenty-first century. In this light, prior scenarios for higher education and taken-for-granted expectations and assumptions regarding the impact of globalization are reviewed. Apparent and growing imbalances and inequalities in higher education lead to a critical reflection on the global governance of higher education, which has so far failed to address these effectively. At the same time, the data provided in this chapter clearly indicate that global trends and flows in higher education and research require stronger rather than weaker approaches to global governance. Moreover, higher education’s mission in both research and teaching requires a global dimension. It cannot educate students as global citizens or contribute to solving global challenges through its research, if it is bound to operate exclusively within national higher education systems. The chapter concludes by exploring questions around possible new models and shifting political leadership roles in the future global governance of higher education.