Higher Education in Scandinavia

A Case Study

Jørgen Lerche Nielsen, Lars Birch Andreasen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Higher education systems around the world have been undergoing fundamental changes through the last 50 years from more narrow self-sustaining universities for the elite and into mass universities, where new groups of students have been recruited and the number of students enrolled has increased dramatically. As the general level of education in society is growing, universities are adjusting to the role of being a mass educational institution. Universities have been challenged on how to cope with various external pressures, such as forces of globalization and international markets, increased national and international competition for students and research grants, increased pressure to become more efficient economically and regarding students’ length of studies. These various pressures can be seen as expressions of national policy changes from more democratic governance towards new public management principles. In this chapter we will examine how higher education systems in Scandinavia are developing in relation to these challenges. To what extent has the democratic tradition had an impact on the educational systems, and what possible futures can be envisioned?

In the development of higher education in Scandinavia, there are different perspectives on education at play. One perspective sees education as a “public good” that benefits society and therefore should be free and accessible for all students who qualify to be admitted. According to this perspective, one of the main purposes of higher education is to add value to all students, so they can contribute to society. Within the framework of the Scandinavian welfare state, this model has prevailed in the organization of education, health care, and social services.

Another perspective sees education as mainly an “individual investment”, and therefore students should pay for attending their education. According to this perspective, one of the main purposes of higher education is instead to select the best among the students, in order to sharpen their market value. The notions of competitiveness and individualism play an important role here. In some of the recent reforms in Scandinavia, as well as in the recommendations of the Danish Productivity Commission (2013), we see this second perspective prevailing.

Even though the current reforms seem to point towards this second perspective and towards principles of new public management, the Scandinavian countries still have educational systems where higher education as a basis is free of tuition fees, students are supported with study grants, and people generally have access to education. The massive diversification of educational institutions during the 20th century, which also provided local access to education, is currently replaced by a process of centralization of higher education and fusions of existing institutions. The rate of participation in higher education is however still growing, supporting the possibility of social mobility, when students from families without traditions of education enter the higher education system. It remains to be seen, in the light of the possible new reforms, whether this development will continue.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDemocratizing Higher Education : International Comparative Perspectives
EditorsPatrick Blessinger, John P. Anchan
Number of pages19
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherRoutledge
Publication date25 Mar 2015
Pages92-110
Chapter7
ISBN (Print)9781138020948, 9781138020955
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2015

Keywords

  • Higher Education
  • Centralization
  • autonomy
  • Participation
  • Decentralization
  • Universal access
  • Elite access
  • Financing higher education institutions
  • Lifelong Learning
  • Mass Access
  • quality control
  • Scandinavian welfare state and education
  • Denmark
  • University College
  • university reform

Cite this

Nielsen, J. L., & Birch Andreasen, L. (2015). Higher Education in Scandinavia: A Case Study. In P. Blessinger, & J. P. Anchan (Eds.), Democratizing Higher Education: International Comparative Perspectives (pp. 92-110). New York: Routledge.
Nielsen, Jørgen Lerche ; Birch Andreasen, Lars. / Higher Education in Scandinavia : A Case Study. Democratizing Higher Education: International Comparative Perspectives . editor / Patrick Blessinger ; John P. Anchan. New York : Routledge, 2015. pp. 92-110
@inbook{5c0d0e1c835f40ed8739790672d7f306,
title = "Higher Education in Scandinavia: A Case Study",
abstract = "Higher education systems around the world have been undergoing fundamental changes through the last 50 years from more narrow self-sustaining universities for the elite and into mass universities, where new groups of students have been recruited and the number of students enrolled has increased dramatically. As the general level of education in society is growing, universities are adjusting to the role of being a mass educational institution. Universities have been challenged on how to cope with various external pressures, such as forces of globalization and international markets, increased national and international competition for students and research grants, increased pressure to become more efficient economically and regarding students’ length of studies. These various pressures can be seen as expressions of national policy changes from more democratic governance towards new public management principles. In this chapter we will examine how higher education systems in Scandinavia are developing in relation to these challenges. To what extent has the democratic tradition had an impact on the educational systems, and what possible futures can be envisioned?In the development of higher education in Scandinavia, there are different perspectives on education at play. One perspective sees education as a “public good” that benefits society and therefore should be free and accessible for all students who qualify to be admitted. According to this perspective, one of the main purposes of higher education is to add value to all students, so they can contribute to society. Within the framework of the Scandinavian welfare state, this model has prevailed in the organization of education, health care, and social services.Another perspective sees education as mainly an “individual investment”, and therefore students should pay for attending their education. According to this perspective, one of the main purposes of higher education is instead to select the best among the students, in order to sharpen their market value. The notions of competitiveness and individualism play an important role here. In some of the recent reforms in Scandinavia, as well as in the recommendations of the Danish Productivity Commission (2013), we see this second perspective prevailing.Even though the current reforms seem to point towards this second perspective and towards principles of new public management, the Scandinavian countries still have educational systems where higher education as a basis is free of tuition fees, students are supported with study grants, and people generally have access to education. The massive diversification of educational institutions during the 20th century, which also provided local access to education, is currently replaced by a process of centralization of higher education and fusions of existing institutions. The rate of participation in higher education is however still growing, supporting the possibility of social mobility, when students from families without traditions of education enter the higher education system. It remains to be seen, in the light of the possible new reforms, whether this development will continue.",
keywords = "Higher Education, Centralization, autonomy, Participation, Decentralization, Universal access, Elite access, Financing higher education institutions, Lifelong Learning, Mass Access, quality control, Scandinavian welfare state and education, Denmark, University College, university reform",
author = "Nielsen, {J{\o}rgen Lerche} and {Birch Andreasen}, Lars",
year = "2015",
month = "3",
day = "25",
language = "English",
isbn = "9781138020948",
pages = "92--110",
editor = "Patrick Blessinger and Anchan, {John P.}",
booktitle = "Democratizing Higher Education",
publisher = "Routledge",

}

Nielsen, JL & Birch Andreasen, L 2015, Higher Education in Scandinavia: A Case Study. in P Blessinger & JP Anchan (eds), Democratizing Higher Education: International Comparative Perspectives . Routledge, New York, pp. 92-110.

Higher Education in Scandinavia : A Case Study. / Nielsen, Jørgen Lerche; Birch Andreasen, Lars.

Democratizing Higher Education: International Comparative Perspectives . ed. / Patrick Blessinger; John P. Anchan. New York : Routledge, 2015. p. 92-110.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

TY - CHAP

T1 - Higher Education in Scandinavia

T2 - A Case Study

AU - Nielsen, Jørgen Lerche

AU - Birch Andreasen, Lars

PY - 2015/3/25

Y1 - 2015/3/25

N2 - Higher education systems around the world have been undergoing fundamental changes through the last 50 years from more narrow self-sustaining universities for the elite and into mass universities, where new groups of students have been recruited and the number of students enrolled has increased dramatically. As the general level of education in society is growing, universities are adjusting to the role of being a mass educational institution. Universities have been challenged on how to cope with various external pressures, such as forces of globalization and international markets, increased national and international competition for students and research grants, increased pressure to become more efficient economically and regarding students’ length of studies. These various pressures can be seen as expressions of national policy changes from more democratic governance towards new public management principles. In this chapter we will examine how higher education systems in Scandinavia are developing in relation to these challenges. To what extent has the democratic tradition had an impact on the educational systems, and what possible futures can be envisioned?In the development of higher education in Scandinavia, there are different perspectives on education at play. One perspective sees education as a “public good” that benefits society and therefore should be free and accessible for all students who qualify to be admitted. According to this perspective, one of the main purposes of higher education is to add value to all students, so they can contribute to society. Within the framework of the Scandinavian welfare state, this model has prevailed in the organization of education, health care, and social services.Another perspective sees education as mainly an “individual investment”, and therefore students should pay for attending their education. According to this perspective, one of the main purposes of higher education is instead to select the best among the students, in order to sharpen their market value. The notions of competitiveness and individualism play an important role here. In some of the recent reforms in Scandinavia, as well as in the recommendations of the Danish Productivity Commission (2013), we see this second perspective prevailing.Even though the current reforms seem to point towards this second perspective and towards principles of new public management, the Scandinavian countries still have educational systems where higher education as a basis is free of tuition fees, students are supported with study grants, and people generally have access to education. The massive diversification of educational institutions during the 20th century, which also provided local access to education, is currently replaced by a process of centralization of higher education and fusions of existing institutions. The rate of participation in higher education is however still growing, supporting the possibility of social mobility, when students from families without traditions of education enter the higher education system. It remains to be seen, in the light of the possible new reforms, whether this development will continue.

AB - Higher education systems around the world have been undergoing fundamental changes through the last 50 years from more narrow self-sustaining universities for the elite and into mass universities, where new groups of students have been recruited and the number of students enrolled has increased dramatically. As the general level of education in society is growing, universities are adjusting to the role of being a mass educational institution. Universities have been challenged on how to cope with various external pressures, such as forces of globalization and international markets, increased national and international competition for students and research grants, increased pressure to become more efficient economically and regarding students’ length of studies. These various pressures can be seen as expressions of national policy changes from more democratic governance towards new public management principles. In this chapter we will examine how higher education systems in Scandinavia are developing in relation to these challenges. To what extent has the democratic tradition had an impact on the educational systems, and what possible futures can be envisioned?In the development of higher education in Scandinavia, there are different perspectives on education at play. One perspective sees education as a “public good” that benefits society and therefore should be free and accessible for all students who qualify to be admitted. According to this perspective, one of the main purposes of higher education is to add value to all students, so they can contribute to society. Within the framework of the Scandinavian welfare state, this model has prevailed in the organization of education, health care, and social services.Another perspective sees education as mainly an “individual investment”, and therefore students should pay for attending their education. According to this perspective, one of the main purposes of higher education is instead to select the best among the students, in order to sharpen their market value. The notions of competitiveness and individualism play an important role here. In some of the recent reforms in Scandinavia, as well as in the recommendations of the Danish Productivity Commission (2013), we see this second perspective prevailing.Even though the current reforms seem to point towards this second perspective and towards principles of new public management, the Scandinavian countries still have educational systems where higher education as a basis is free of tuition fees, students are supported with study grants, and people generally have access to education. The massive diversification of educational institutions during the 20th century, which also provided local access to education, is currently replaced by a process of centralization of higher education and fusions of existing institutions. The rate of participation in higher education is however still growing, supporting the possibility of social mobility, when students from families without traditions of education enter the higher education system. It remains to be seen, in the light of the possible new reforms, whether this development will continue.

KW - Higher Education

KW - Centralization

KW - autonomy

KW - Participation

KW - Decentralization

KW - Universal access

KW - Elite access

KW - Financing higher education institutions

KW - Lifelong Learning

KW - Mass Access

KW - quality control

KW - Scandinavian welfare state and education

KW - Denmark

KW - University College

KW - university reform

M3 - Book chapter

SN - 9781138020948

SN - 9781138020955

SP - 92

EP - 110

BT - Democratizing Higher Education

A2 - Blessinger, Patrick

A2 - Anchan, John P.

PB - Routledge

CY - New York

ER -

Nielsen JL, Birch Andreasen L. Higher Education in Scandinavia: A Case Study. In Blessinger P, Anchan JP, editors, Democratizing Higher Education: International Comparative Perspectives . New York: Routledge. 2015. p. 92-110