CGHE seminar 3

HE participation and macro-economic fluctuations: a historical and comparative study

  • Thursday, 07 Jan 2016 12:30 - 14:00
  • Room 642, UCL Institute of Education
  • Vincent Carpentier, UCL Institute of Education
  • CGHE Research Programme 2


The 2008 crisis has reactivated crucial debates about the impact of, and the tensions between, the creation and redistribution of wealth (Piketty 2014).  Those issues are important for evaluating the process of higher education’s expansion and its democratisation (Carpentier 2012). During this seminar, I will present initial findings from my CGHE research study which aims to bridge those debates by exploring the following research questions:

1.    What factors structure the historical relationship between economic fluctuations, inequality/equality, and HE participation? 

2.    Under what socioeconomic conditions does growth or contraction in higher education take place?  Can we identify similar and different relationships across countries?

3.    Do socioeconomic fluctuations affect the relationship between the dynamic of expansion and the process of stratification of HE systems, and vice-versa?

In order to explore these questions, the study examines the relationships between participation in, and qualifications from, HE and the fluctuations in key socio-economic aggregates since the 1920s. 

The comparative dimension of the project focuses on the UK, France and the USA, countries which reached mass HE via different funding models. The study will map similarities and differences between the historical trajectories of development of higher education systems of the three countries, and establish whether the patterns have affected, or responded to, socioeconomic fluctuations.

The project will also integrate the local dimension, exploring whether the relationship between the national HE system and socioeconomic fluctuations holds for all higher education institutions.

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Vincent Carpentier

Vincent Carpentier

Dr Vincent Carpentier is Reader in History of Education at the UCL Institute of Education, London. He is the Programme Leader of the MA in Higher and Professional Education and an Associate Editor of the London Review of Education.  His comparative research on the historical relationship between educational systems, economic (Kondratiev) cycles and social change is located at the interface of history of education and political economy. His research explores the long-term connections and tensions between funding, equity and quality in higher education at both national and global levels. His publications include Système éducatif et performances économiques au Royaume-Uni: 19ème et 20ème siècles (L’Harmattan, 2001) and Global Inequalities and Higher Education, Whose Interests Are We Serving? (Palgrave MacMillan, 2010 – co-edited with Elaine Unterhalter) and articles in various academic journals.

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