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Welfare Reform on the Web (December 2009): Education - overseas

Bureaucracy and its limits: accountability and rationality in higher education

M. Murphy

British Journal of Sociology of Education, vol. 30, 2009, p.683-695

The question of accountability in higher education has come to the fore in recent debate, alongside discussions concerning managerialism, marketisation and performativity. On the one hand, there are strong calls for more accountability in terms of public spending whilst, on the other, there are academics who oppose the very nature of this type of audit culture, and point out the negative effects that such quality assurance processes have on academic life. The paper suggests that one way out of this impasse is to place the current accountability agenda in the context of Max Weber's account of bureaucracy and rationality. Habermas' reconstructed version of Weber's work is identified as a possible means of delineating the reaches and limits of modern bureaucratic accountability.

Compassion, caring and justice: teachers' strategies to maintain moral integrity in the face of national hostility to the 'non-citizen'

M. Arnot, H. Pinson & M. Candappa

Educational Review, vol. 61, 2009, p. 249-264

Refugees commonly have just one remaining identity - that of being stateless and statusless. The humanism of teachers in helping the children of asylum-seekers and refugees is tested by the state, especially its immigration policy. This paper offers preliminary research findings on teachers' concepts of compassion and their responses to the needs of asylum-seeking and refugee children.

Do educational pathways contribute to equity in tertiary education in Australia?

L. Wheelahan

Critical Studies in Education, vol. 50, 2009, p. 261-275

A key assumption of equity policies in Australia, as in many countries, is that pathways from lower-status, vocationally oriented tertiary education to higher education are able to act as an equity mechanism. This is because students from low socio-economic backgrounds are over-represented in former and underrepresented in the latter. The assumption that pathways support equity is tested in this paper through an analysis of the socio-economic profile and institutional destination of student transfers from vocational education and training (VET) to higher education in Australia. It finds that educational pathways deepen participation in education by existing social groups but do not effectively widen participation for groups that do not have equitable access. This is as a consequence of the hierarchical structuring of qualifications within VET as well as in higher education.

Economic and cultural factors affecting university excellence

N. Jabnoun

Quality Assurance in Education, vol.17, 2009, p. 416-429

This paper first identified the 300 top ranked universities worldwide. Multiple regression was used to determine the relationship between the number of top ranked universities per country and the independent variables of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), corruption perception, press freedom and power distance. The analysis showed that the number of top ranked universities per country increased with GDP and lack of corruption, but decreased with less press freedom and higher power distance.

Evidence-based education policy

D. Bridges, P. Smeyers and R. Smith (editors)

Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009

This book raises questions about the extent to which policy can be derived from research and about the kind of evidence which should inform policy. It begins with a critique of the narrower conceptions of the evidence which might inform policy and then examines some of the logical and other kinds of gaps between what can be shown by research and the wider political requirements of policy. The book also examines the claims of some different educational research traditions to inform policy: large population studies as well as individual case studies; personal narratives; action research; philosophy; and imaginative, even romantic, literature. It calls for a more subtle understanding of the ways in which different forms of enquiry may inform policy and practice, and for the recognition and utilisation of the insights offered by the rich variety of educational research traditions available.

Inclusive and exclusive education in Sweden: principals' opinions and experiences

E. Heimdahl Mattson and A. Malmgren Hansen

European Journal of Special Needs Education, vol. 24, 2009, p. 465-472

To support the national and international aims of inclusion, special teacher training in Sweden was replaced in 1990 by special educator training. Under this new system, special educators supervised teachers in their school and did not exclusively teach students. The aim of this study was to investigate the views of principals in 14 municipal schools in Stockholm County in relation to the organisation and realisation of special education in 1996 and 2006 respectively. According to the results, there were fewer segregated groups in these schools in 2006, but an increasing number of students were placed in segregated groups. Principals at schools with teaching teams usually saw the special educator as a coordinating and supervising resource, while others preferred the special teacher function. The former approach has led to a more inclusive school and the latter in the direction of exclusion.

Inclusive education in Bulgaria and Bosnia and Herzegovina: policy and practice

D. Tsokova and M. Becirevic

European Journal of Special Needs Education, vol. 24, 2009, p. 393-406

This paper examines developments in inclusive education in Bulgaria and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the context of actual and desired accession to the European Union. It seeks to provide insights into the national special education traditions in these countries and aims to establish how these have influenced current developments in inclusive education together with and alongside powerful external change agents. This research focuses on policy makers' perspectives on changes associated with inclusion. There are significant similarities in the way inclusive education reforms are being perceived and implemented in both countries, and analysis suggests there is a strong need for regional cooperation with shifts in both policy and practice.

International organizations and higher education policy: thinking globally and acting locally?

R.M. Bassett and A. Maldonado-Maldonado (editors)

London: Routledge, 2009

This book presents a compilation of different analyses on international organisations and their impact on higher education worldwide. It is organised into four sections: the first provides a specific examination of the contribution of these organisations to the development of higher education, as a policy concern and an academic field; the second presents analyses of multilateral organisations and regimes, from internal and external perspectives; the third provides regional perspectives on the influences and roles of these organisations in particular geographical regions; and the fourth discusses the different types of assistance committed by international organisations in developing countries.

The limits of school choice: some implications for accountability of selective practices and positional competition in Australian education

J. Windle

Critical Studies in Education, vol. 50, 2009, p. 231-246

In light of a renewed policy push in Australia towards accountability via a market model, this paper analyses the impact of existing school choice policies in the state of Victoria, with particular reference to educational provision in an area of social disadvantage in Melbourne's north. This analysis challenges the claims of the now normalised market model, but also points to the need to expand research into this theme which, to date, has attracted relatively little critical attention. The author argues that both the operation of existing policies and the direction of new proposals imply an uneven system of accountability which applies different standards to increasingly polarised 'closed' and 'open' schooling sectors.

Planning mobile futures: the border artistry of International Baccalaureate Diploma choosers

C. Doherty, L. Mu and P. Shield

British Journal of Sociology of Education, vol. 30, 2009, p. 757-771

This paper reports on a study of students choosing the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma over state-based curricula in Australian schools. The IB Diploma was initially designed as a matriculation certificate to facilitate international mobility. While first envisaged as a lifestyle choice for cultural elites, such mobility is now widespread with more people living 'beyond the nation' through choice or circumstance. The study explored the rationales and strategies behind the choice of the IB Diploma curriculum expressed by students in a focus group interview and an online survey. This paper reports on their imagined transnational routes and mobile orientations, and how a localised curriculum limits their imagined mobile futures.

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