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Welfare Reform on the Web (December 2007): Education - overseas

Alliance through change

D. Sebalj and others

Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, Vol. 29, 2007 p. 275-287

Following a landmark organisational change event within the University of Western Sydney, when the university ceased operating as a federation of four distinct, inter-related elements and merged to become a single entity, four foundation College Managers made a strategic decision to form an alliance. This alliance significantly enhanced the organisational impact and effectiveness of each partner during what was a highly turbulent, competitive and constantly shifting change. This paper describes the environmental conditions that led to the formation of this partnership and details the three core alliance strategies implemented by the College Managers. These strategies included the creation of lateral and hierarchical communication channels, and the engagement of staff, plus the provision of a supportive work environment. The success, or otherwise, of the alliance and its strategies is discussed.

Doing multicultural education for achievement and equity

G. Sleeter

New York: Routledge, 2007

Doing Multicultural Education for Achievement and Equity provides a history and rationale for education that is multicultural both in school and the greater society. The author examines social institutions, including schools, through a lens of power, questioning who benefits most from policies and taken-for-granted practices, and valuing policies and practices that affirm equity and fairness. The book employs self-help and interactive activities to help teachers and trainee teachers examine and develop a personal and teaching self, taking into account teachers' apprehensions and misinformation about problems and issues surrounding education and social justice in a multicultural society, including the belief that racial and class inequalities were solved during previous generations. The book starts by examining the teacher-student-society triangle before exploring various dimensions of classroom teaching, such as curriculum design and assessment in the context of diversity and equity.

The Economic analysis of universities: strategic groups and positioning

S. Warning

Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2007

Higher education, especially that which is publicly funded, is under increasing scrutiny from politicians and the public as competition in this sector increases. This book provides a comprehensive analysis of the strategic positioning of public universities as service providers in a competitive sector. The author develops two distinct theoretical approaches to the analysis of public universities. The first is the concept of strategic groups, originating in management theory. It implies that due to different returns on investment in teaching quality, heterogeneity will exist in the university sector. The second approach involves a three-stage duopoly game of competition between universities, and is underpinned by the industrial economics literature. Universities in this formal equilibrium model of differentiation position themselves in terms of teaching and research quality in order to attract students. Although the analysis is based on data for German universities, the author's conclusions offer important insights for all countries where publicly funded universities play a role, particularly in the current climate of shifts towards more competitive university systems.

Education, policy and social justice

J. Avis

London: Continuum, 2007

This book explores the socioeconomic and policy context of education in advanced capitalist societies and indicates the manner in which the rhetoric of policy-makers distorts the way in which skill is marshalled in the economy. The result it that oppressive and exploitative features of paid labour are underplayed in this rhetoric. It examines the experiences of teachers and students in post-compulsory education and explores their contradictory positions. The author concludes that if questions of social justice are to be addressed, then an economically driven model of education should be rejected in favour of one that is politically engaged and utilises an expansive model of practice, extending into the wider society.

Faith in schools

I. MacMullen

Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007

This book addresses the increasingly topical question of how a liberal democratic state should respond to parental pressure for religious schools at public expense. The author focuses his attention on two educational goals that have often been thought to justify some degree of state opposition to religious schools: civic education (teaching students the virtues and capacities of a good citizen) and education for autonomy (teaching students to think critically and reflectively about their ethical commitments). In addition to addressing these general questions of liberal political philosophy the author takes aim at the particular shape of established American public policy towards religious schools, asking the central question in liberal educational theory: do religious schools pose a threat to children's future autonomy?

Globalisation, human rights and education

C. van den Anker (editor)

Globalisation, Societies and Education, Vol. 5, 2007, p. 273-401

Human rights have become the dominant discourse of moral concerns in global politics and human rights education has become a focus for formal education and for informal campaigns on expanding public knowledge and reflection. This special issue features articles on globalisation and human rights from a variety of disciplines and multidisciplinary fields. Papers include a discussion of recent attempts at globalising norms of multiculturalism as a way to safeguard the position of minorities beyond the liberal model of toleration; a comparison of attitudes towards the recent headscarf debate in the UK, France, Turkey and Uzbekistan; a report on an adult education scheme in Afghanistan where women's rights are enhanced by bringing couples into classes together; and a study of the role of the media in influencing decisions that prompt humanitarian intervention.

International university ranking systems and the idea of university excellence

P. Taylor and R. Braddock

Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, Vol. 29, 2007, p. 245-260

This article looks at some of the theoretical and methodological issues underlying international university ranking systems and, in particular, their conceptual connection with the idea of excellence. It offers a critical examination of the two best-known international university ranking systems the Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) World University Rankings and the Shanghai Jiao Tong Academic Ranking of World Universities. The authors assess the various criteria used by the two systems and argue that the Jiao Tong system, although far from perfect, is a better indicator of university excellence. Based on an assessment of these two systems, this report suggests how an ideal international university ranking system might look, concluding with some comments on the uses of ranking systems.

Reconsidering open and distance learning in the developing world: meeting student's learning needs

D. Kember

London: Routledge, 2007

The Open University in the UK has been very successful and its model of open and distance learning has been widely and closely replicated by other open universities. However, this book presents evidence that students in the developing world are often ill-prepared for a mode of learning which requires a high degree of self-direction and the ability to learn, in most instances, without the presence of a teacher or fellow students. This is suggested as a major contributor to the low retention and graduation rates of most open universities in developing countries. The author argues that distance learning systems cater to UK students, and consequently do not meet the differing learning needs and characteristics of students from developing countries. This book therefore looks at the characteristics, needs and learning approaches of such students; reconsiders the suitability and success of established models of distance learning for current contexts in the developing world; and explores alternative models and examines what adaptations are necessary to suit shifting needs, including the move from elite to mass higher education and the effects of technical and societal changes.

Sociology of higher education: contributions and their contexts

P. J. Gumport (editor)

Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 2007

This series of articles examines the sociology of higher education as it has evolved since the publication of Burton Clark's foundational article in 1973. The authors trace diverse conceptual and empirical developments along several major lines of specialisation and analyse the ways in which wider societal and institutional changes in higher education have influenced this field of study. Topics covered include the study of inequality; the study of college impact; the study of the academic profession; the study of colleges and universities as organisations; sociological studies of academic departments; and the sociology of diversity.

What reform left behind: a decade of change at one urban high school

M.A. Mac Iver

Education and Urban Society, vol. 40, no.1, 2007, p. 3-35

This article presents a case study of the impact of a succession of reform and improvement initiatives implemented at a failing US urban high school over a ten year period. Despite evidence of improved pupil outcomes over the period, the school could not meet state targets because of the large proportion of pupils who entered with established patterns of truancy and low achievement. Addressing these deep-seated structural problems will require a more systemic, rather than school-centred, focus.

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