Handbook on Globalization and Higher Education
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Handbook on Globalization and Higher Education

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.
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Chapter 9: Globalization, Higher Education and Inequalities: Problems and Prospects

Vincent Carpentier and Elaine Unterhalter


Vincent Carpentier and Elaine Unterhalter INTRODUCTION At the end of the twentieth century, globalization was associated with new and enormously expansive forms of capitalist growth. For higher education it offered many opportunities for innovation and networking. However, from the beginning of the twenty-first century, globalization has become as much associated with danger, threat and crisis – for example in relation to the financial system and climate change – as with opportunity and endeavour. The ‘dark’ side of globalization is seen as both cause and effect of global and local social division. For higher education institutions these processes of inequality entail a complex intermingling of opportunity, risk and social injustice (Unterhalter and Carpentier, 2010). Problems of global inequality require both transnational and subnational responses. But higher education institutions and systems find it difficult to respond in both registers. Global inequalities present both problems and prospects for higher education. They constitute a distinctive location for research, teaching, learning and organizational formation. In this chapter we consider global inequalities as a major site of injustice that confronts higher education institutions, and we attempt to assess the prospects for change that the sector offers. Much of the scholarship on inequality and higher education discusses the topic in relation to national contexts (Archer and Leathwood, 2003; Bourdieu and Passeron, 1964; Duru-Bellat et al., 2008). However, as we show below, a number of drivers of inequality have long been associated with global processes. Nationally located higher education institutions reproduce practices associated with global inequality – either unwittingly, because these...

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