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 12: Global ‘Toolboxes’, Local ‘Toolmaking’: The Contradictions of External Evaluation in South African Higher Education Reform

Mala Singh


12 Global ‘toolboxes’,1 local ‘toolmaking’: the contradictions of external evaluation in South African higher education reform Mala Singh INTRODUCTION In considering the implications and effects of globalization on education policy in the developing world, issues of trade-off between risk and opportunity for local agendas loom large. Concerns about ‘control, autonomy and agency’ (Mittelman, 2001, p. 1) arise in exploring the ambivalent and changing relationships between the local and the global, as do questions of possibility, constraint and contradiction in the tracking of policy interfaces of global paradigms and national imperatives. Analysts have pointed to the increasing power of global models to influence local systems as nation-states become less able to shape policy priorities according to national reference points alone (Dale, 2007; Ozga and Lingard, 2007; Scott, 1998; Rizvi and Lingard, 2010, p. 22). In this regard the attraction and influence of transnational and trans-regional trends on national education policy are evident, not only as a recent phenomenon (Phillips, 2002), nor only across the divide between the global North and South. Rhoades and Sporn (2002, p. 355) illustrate the latter in their analysis of the ‘diffusion of quality assurance models and practices’ between Europe and the USA. However, the challenges of mediating and modifying global models to make them fit for contextual purpose or engaging in the more difficult task of thinking about local ‘solutions’ outside global ‘toolboxes’ become more acute in developing-country contexts, especially where structural asymmetries of power, poor capacity and limited resources come together to constrain local...

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