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Higher education, political cultures and public good: A comparative study / Simon Marginson SRHE conference, Newport, 11-13 December 2013 The walls of.

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Presentation on theme: "Higher education, political cultures and public good: A comparative study / Simon Marginson SRHE conference, Newport, 11-13 December 2013 The walls of."— Presentation transcript:

1 Higher education, political cultures and public good: A comparative study / Simon Marginson SRHE conference, Newport, December 2013 The walls of the Roman town of Venta Silurum (Caerwent) are still standing after almost 2000 years. An early example of the provision of public good(s) in the Newport region.

2 The problem Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are among the primary social institutions. They educate people in social skills and attributes on a large scale, structure opportunity and social mobility, create and distribute codified knowledge, further citizenship and cosmopolitan sociability, and carry a heavy and growing traffic in cross-border global relations. Yet social science has failed to develop a unified and comprehensive account of the social production of higher education and the associated research (HER) We know much more about individual market goods (such as earnings benefits to graduates) than we do about collective goods and non-market private goods. How should public goods be defined, observed and where possible, measured? There is little conceptual, empirical or policy clarity

3 How are we to understand the relational social environment (society) and within it the public? as an economic market? as a governed space, the space of the state? as a combination of self-actualizing individual citizens? as a communicative realm, of social networking and media/ Internet, stretching to the ends of the earth as all of these? and if so which parts are public and which are private?

4 Many practices of HEIs are not captured as benefits for individual students or companies but are consumed jointly. Consider scientific and social literacy, open source and public forms of knowledge, political socialization, tolerance of foreigners, mutual productivity enhancement at work, etc. Identifying public goods, especially relational collective goods, which are constituents of sociability, is a frontier problem for both social science and policy. Without coherent definitions and tools for observing public goods in HEI, solely normative (and ideological) approaches come to define the public goods..

5 And public goods are often underestimated. Policy models higher education as a market of competing university corporations, models the relationship between social public benefits and individual private benefits as zero-sum, and focuses primarily on the on individualisable economic benefits… … exceptions are higher education's role in furthering social equity, internationalization, research as contributor to innovation, and vaguer programs on social engagement. But is this list comprehensive of the social and public effects of HER? What happens to sociability when the policy pendulum swings to private goods? Can we leave the task of forming sociability to the Internet and media, consumption, and work? Maybe with desktop MOOCS substituting for face-to-face teaching?

6 There are various approaches to the 'public' or 'social' outcomes of higher education in social science. All can contribute, e.g. - Notions in political theory of common public good (e.g. Mainsbridge 1998), - The public sphere (Habermas 1989) - Public economic goods (Samuelson 1954, McMahon 2009, Ostrom 2010), - including global public goods (Stiglitz 1999). Approaches to the 'public' role of higher education vary across the world, according to different political cultures and state traditions. What is the potential for a common or global approach, parallel to the global reach of the economic definition of private goods as individual earnings and rates of return? Can we devise a new global language for public goods? No one definitive approach

7 Public andprivate are not necessarily zero- sum, e.g. notions of public can embody the private Amartya Sens idea of individual freedom

8 Paul Samuelson: Zero sum notion of private and public goods in economics

9 Samuelsons public and private goods Public goods are residual: All goods are private goods and producible in markets unless they have the special characteristics of public goods, which are: Non-rivalrous or indivisible: a unit of the good can be consumed by one individual without detracting from the consumption opportunities the unit provides to others Non-excludable: when a good is provided to one individual its benefits spill-over to many others who did not pay Hence public goods are under-produced in markets and require government or philanthropic intervention

10 Global public goods Global public goods are goods that have a significant element of non-rivalry and/or non-excludability and made broadly available across populations on a global scale. They affect more than one group of countries, are broadly available within countries, and are inter-generational; that is, they meet needs in the present generation without jeopardizing future generations.. ~ Inge Kaul, I. Grunberg and Marc Stern (Eds.), Global Public Goods: International cooperation in the 21 st century, New York, Oxford University Press, 1999, pp. 2–3 -Note the potential for global public bads – negative cross- border externalities such as brain drain -Global public goods (and bads) created in higher education need systematic attention and negotiation -Who pays for global goods? How can they be governed in the absence of a global state?

11 Joseph Stiglitz: Knowledge as a (global) public good

12 Knowledge as a global public good Knowledge is predominantly a public good. There is a moment of excludability, when it is first created and disseminated. But once disseminated it has no subtractibility (non-rivalrous) and it can be rendered partly excludable only though artificial means such as rules governing journals Knowledge is also a global public good – the mathematical theorem retains its value all over the world no matter how many times it is used Hence basic research is subject to market faliure, and everywhere is funded by governments and philanthropy, or by universities themselves

13 RESEARCH RivalrousExcludable New knowledge at the point of creation YES confined to creator (or owner) enabling IP development Knowledge held within scholarly circle NOYES club good, access policed by rules Knowledge published in commercial journals NOYES club good, access policed by price Knowledge circulating freely in social communications NO a pure public good, knowledge in its most natural and final state

14 Teaching Teaching/learning are associated with both private and public goods. Private goods included social status, earnings, social and cultural capital, better health, non pecuniary benefits like cultural sensibility. Public goods include knowledge content of curriculum, and including common literacy, diffusion of new technologies, social equity in opportunity, the contribution to democracy, etc Teaching is policy sensitive; e.g. the private good aspect is enhanced when the scarcity of places rises; equal resourcing of universities tends to flatten differentials in private value. States can finance private as well as public goods – and often do. Private institutions produce some public goods through teaching programs, e.g. free courseware at MIT, MOOCs

15 TEACHING RivalrousExcludable As a universal rightNONO BY DEFINITION Knowledge contentsNO General education in non elite institutions NO in mass education a public good Vocational educationYES congestion YES varies, more so in elite institutions Elite networking, cultural capital, status YES congestion YES capable of market production

16 Because of its methodological individualism, economics is weak in estimating collective goods, which are not individualizable. Collective goods such as public knowledge or social order are not aggregates of individual goods, they are relational/systemic goods quite distinct from individual goods, which are goods of another kind Collective goods are shaped by political and fiscal philosophies, ideologies and decisions. But to say they are subject to politics is not to say that none can be measured, e.g. volumes of knowledge flows, extent of social mobility between generations, attitudes to foreigners. Collective goods

17 We need to explore and expand potentials for measurement … while remembering that much of theoutcomes of higher education are beyond numerical measurement, joined to process, and happen at the intersection between universities and other social institutions. These outcomes do not follow a simple cause- and-effect logic Measurement

18 John Maynard Keynes: Three kinds of quality in social science

19 John Maynard Keynes identified three kinds of quality in social science: those subject to numerical computation, those that could be ordered (higher or lower, faster orslower) but not counted, those that could only be apprehended by the exercise of complex judgments e.g. the role of higher education in democratic politics can be understood only in terms of complex historical judgments Measurement

20 Jurgen Habermas: The public sphere as communicative space

21 Like Habermass public sphere the university is a semi- independent site incubating criticisms and ideas for state renewal and public policy (though it must be said that the state is not always listening!). At best research, expert information and higher education help both government andthe public to reach considered opinions Because of (1) its advanced capacity to form self-altering agents, and engender critical intellectual reflexivity; (2) its capacity to provide conditions for complex collectiver political formations; and (3) its ease of movement across traditional boundaries, at times, in both the East and the West, higher education has incubated advanced democratic formations This suggests that one test of the public character of the university is the extent that it provides space for criticism, challenge and the creation of new forms of public space

22 The comparative dimension Higher education systems vary according to Differences in the scope and role of the state Differences in political cultures Differences in educational cultures, including family Major variations are regional (North American, Westminster, German, Nordic, Russia, Post-Confucian, Latin American), entailing such issues such as … -space for civil society and its relation with HEIs; government-university relations (forms of autonomy); protocols of academic freedom; social expectations of higher education; responsibility for funding and priorities of state investment; institutions degree of independence in global activities; variations in the take on global public goods

23 Three kinds of state/ higher education

24 Comparative study of approaches to public goods in higher education in eight differing jurisdictions, through semi- structured interviews with leaders and professors in universities, government officials and social science experts Australia (done, 47 interviews), Russia (done, 30 Interviews), UK, Finland, Germany, China, Korea or Japan Aim is to prepare a generic conceptual framework for defining, categorizing, observing and where possible measuring public goods in higher education and research i.e. exploring the possibility of a common language for describing the social outputs of universities, that accounts for potential national and regional variations. Such a generic language may require minimum commonalities e.g. human rights, universal access, state responsibilities The research project ( )

25 The interview questions Your training, job history, present position and main responsibilities? What is the role of government in higher education? What should government do? Are there limits – what should government not n? What do you understand by the term public good? What benefits and activities fall under this? Does higher education produce collective goods, some say social goods, that are distinct from benefits that can be identified in relation to individuals? What are those collective goods? What does higher education contribute to the public good, in the following areas [some individual, some collective]. Consider: (1) Are there public good/ public goods created here? (2) How do we know, and can we measure them? Knowledge; Research, development and innovation; Arts and Science not vocationally specific; Professional and occupational training; Equitable social opportunity; Creativity in different fields; Social communications; Building cities and region; Citizenship, tolerance and cosmopolitanism; Internationalization; Arts and culture; Public policy development, and better government

26 If higher education creates a mix of public and private goods, do you think that both kinds of good can grow together? Or is it that the more public goods are created, the less private goods are created? Is it zero-sum? If higher education was 100 per cent funded by student tuition would the public goods still flow? (Possible follow-up question - In part or whole?) Higher education is funded from a mix of public and private sources. How should the balance be determined? (Possible follow-up question – Is it essentially just political and arbitrary? Can it be grounded?) What is the global public good? The UN Development Program defines the global public good as benefits that flow across borders and are widely shared. Do Russian universities contribute to this global public good? How? How do we know? Governments fund research because it generates innovations in the national economy. What if the benefits are captured by foreign firms? Should government fund research without likely national economic impact? If public goods flow across borders, who should pay for them, producer country or receiver country?


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