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The Politics of Higher Education Reforms in Central and Eastern Europe: Development Challenges of the Republic of Moldova

Abstract: This thesis examines factors that underscored higher education reforms in Central and Eastern Europe during the transition period from 1990 to 2005. The study explores higher education reforms in three national settings – Hungary, Romania and the Republic of Moldova, and presents a detailed analysis of the Moldovan case. Rooted in critical approaches to development, transition reforms and policy analysis in higher education, it addresses the new realities of global capitalism, inequitable distribution of power between the industrialized nations and the rest of the world, and the ways in which this power distribution impacts higher education systems in Central and Eastern Europe. Historical analyses, a qualitative cross-national analysis of HE systems in three nations, and interviews with Moldovan higher education policymakers provided rich data on higher education reforms in the region and selected nations. Higher education evolved from institutions serving very select elite in the Middle Ages to universities driving modernization in the 19th and the first half of the 20th century, and to diverse institutional types - universities, colleges, institutes - underscoring the massification of higher education after WWII. Policies pursued by Hungarian, Romanian and Moldovan leaders to expand higher education were informed by the national socio-economic, political and demographic contexts, the dominant global development agenda, and international institutional practices. The capacity of national leaders to carry out higher education reforms was limited by the colonial and post-colonial relationships that were established over centuries between each of these nations and stronger regional powers, such as the Habsburg, Ottoman and Russian Empires, the Soviet Union, and the European Union. Major regional powers had a significant role in the formation of nation states, educational institutions and higher education politics. At the same time, national elites used language and ethnic policies to shape social and higher education developments and build national identities. By bringing an international perspective to the analysis of reforms in Central and Eastern Europe, by focusing on Hungary, Romania and Moldova, and by drawing on critical theory and post-colonial studies, this research study contributes to the international scholarly discussion of higher education and development reforms, enriches methodological developments in the field of higher education, and advances the discourse of comparative higher education.

Author: Lucia Padure

Source: University of Toronto - TSpace

Size: 2.10 MB
Last Updated: July 31, 2015