Global symposium & Book launch

High participation systems of higher education

  • Thursday, 29 Nov 2018 15:00 - 18:30
  • Seminar Room A, Department of Education, Oxford University
  • Brendan Cantwell, Michigan State University
  • Simon Marginson, University of Oxford
  • Anna Smolentseva, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow
  • Paul Ashwin, Lancaster University
  • Alis Oancea, University of Oxford


Higher education has become a central institution of society, building individual knowledge, skills, agency, and relational social networks at unprecedented depth and scale.

Within a generation there has been an extraordinary global expansion of higher education, in every region in all but the poorest countries, outstripping economic growth and deriving primarily from familial aspirations for betterment.

By focusing on the systems and countries that have already achieved near universal participation, High Participation Systems of Higher Education explores this remarkable transformation. The world enrolment ratio, now rising by 10 per cent every decade, is approaching 40 per cent, mostly in degree-granting institutions, including three-quarters of young people in North America and Europe. Higher education systems in the one in three countries that enrol more than 50 per cent are here classified as ‘high participation systems’.

Part I of the book measures, maps, and explains the growth of participation, and the implications for society and higher education itself. Drawing on a wide range of literature and data, the chapters theorise the changes in governance, institutional diversity, and stratification in higher education systems, and the subsequent effects in educational and social equity.

The theoretical propositions regarding high participation higher education developed in these chapters are then tested in the country case studies in Part II, presenting a comprehensive enquiry into the nature of the emerging ‘high participation society’.


15:00-15:10: Introduction
Alis Oancea

15:10-15:40: Drivers and dimensions of unlimited worldwide growth in higher education
Simon Marginson and Q&A

15:40-16:10: High participation after Martin Trow: Inclusive capabilities and exclusive opportunities
Brendan Cantwell and Q&A

16:10-16:40: What is the emerging high participation society?
Anna Smolentseva and Q&A

16:40-17:00: Break

17:00-17:30: Comment and response
Paul Ashwin

17:30-18:00: General discussion

18:00-18:15: Launch speech from one of the editors

18:15/18:30: Close


This event is free and open to the public. No advance booking required.

Brendan Cantwell

Brendan Cantwell

Brendan Cantwell is Associate Professor of Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education in Michigan State University’s Department of Educational Administration. He is also co-editor of The Handbook of Politics of Higher Education (with Hamish Coates and Roger King) and is a coordinating editor for the journal Higher Education.

Simon Marginson

Simon Marginson

Simon Marginson is Professor of Higher Education at the University of Oxford, Director of the ESRC/OFSRE Centre for Global Higher Education (CGHE), and Editor-in-Chief of Higher Education. He formerly worked at the UCL Institute of Education in the UK, and the Universities of Melbourne and Monash in Australia.

Anna Smolentseva

Anna Smolentseva

Anna Smolentseva is Senior Researcher at the Institute of Education, National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow.

Paul Ashwin

Paul Ashwin

Paul is Professor of Higher Education in the Department of Educational Research at Lancaster University. He is a co-ordinating editor of Higher Education, the leading higher education research journal, and co-editor of the Bloomsbury book series Understanding Student Experiences of Higher Education. He is a member of the Governing Council of the Society for Research in Higher Education.

Alis Oancea

Alis Oancea

Alis Oancea is Professor of Philosophy of Education and Research Policy and Director of Research in the department. She specialises in studies of research policy and governance and in philosophy of research – including work on research assessment, impact and knowledge exchange, research funding, research quality, evaluation, open knowledge practices, research ethics, capacity, publication practices, and the cultural value of research in the arts and the humanities.

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