Book by Kreber, C.
Review by Heather T. Zeng
This compendium largely focuses on reform efforts in higher education across a number of countries discussing the environmental realities of accreditation, accountability, and competition amidst globalization. Unearthed in these country profiles are the significant gaps between entities in respect to traditional ideals and philosophies about the university and higher education’s role in society. Kreber’s International Policy Perspectives on Improving Learning with Limited Resources focuses on a varied range of higher education perspectives on teaching and learning initiatives in Europe, Australia and North America.
A strength of the text is the sharing of The Bologna Declaration which throughout Europe has had an impact on the design of universities and program offerings. It is interesting to note the goal of this agreement -- that crosses European institutions of higher education – is to streamline programs for student’s ease in degree completion. U.S. Higher education programs continue to provide unique incentives for students who complete degrees expeditiously. The question of whether The Bologna process, in terms of a uniform assessment of this transformation, has largely taken footing amongst the institutions is difficult to discern from the readings.
Another, more notable aspect of this compendium of writings by leaders affiliated with institutions of higher education, was the section on Africa’s higher education system. Authors reviewed the attempts to transition, promote and integrate the positive African traditional ideals into the pre-existing, largely European formatted, universities. The concepts shared of communalism and ubuntu (comparable to “humanism” p. 86) as potential platforms for university development seem similar to the Morill Land-Grant Acts which fostered service and “active” learning (p. 14) in the United States. This is an exciting prospect.
Although each perspective shared has it own merit and insider look at the system examined, the perspectives have limitations; no entities could be examined comparatively due to gaps in the provided information. The volume also falls short in its exclusion of further Asian and Latin American countries that would provide a more comprehensive picture of reform in the global landscape.
This resource would be relevant to advisors interested in one of the countries noted or those seeking a more specific understanding of the context, environment and process of institutions for higher education. The Higher Education Academy (2007) supports many of the reform initiatives mentioned in the writings that center on European Institutions in Teaching and Learning Centers at universities.
Those projecting a teaching position or fellowship in these environments may want to understand the support systems and policies in existence that will foster instruction and teaching. Advisors may also be interested in this edition as an overview document to get a sense of either country specific information that might help students looking at degrees abroad and see the philosophical traditions prevalent.
Overall the reading is helpful for those wanting an introductory understanding of the context of higher education and reform initiatives internationally.
Higher Education Academy (2007). Retrieved on the WWW March 13, 2007 at http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/3115.htm
International Policy Perspectives on Improving Learning with Limited Resources. (2006). Book by Kreber, C. (Ed.). Review by Heather T. Zeng. Jossey-Bass, 128pp. $29.00 (paperback). ISBN # 0-7879-8705-0