Working Paper 65
Tertiary Education Systems and Diversification: Adapting the Wisdom of Burton Clark to the World Bank’s Support for Effective and Inclusive Reforms
Published May 2021

Watch the conference session recording

This Working Paper is a transcript of the 2021 Burton R Clark lecture on higher education that Roberta Malee Bassett planned to give at the sixth annual conference of the Centre for Global Higher Education, held online on 11-12 May 2021.

This talk will focus on tertiary education systems, the holistic whole that encompasses all formal post-secondary education, and it is in large measure because of Burton Clark and his peers that we have the foundations upon which to build tertiary education systems that can serve the evolving and fickle expectations of society. Rarely does global research (or even do global conferences) on higher education focus on whole tertiary systems and the breadth of institutions and stakeholders and missions that are captured in a well-developed system. Research universities generally dominate the discourse on higher education: world-class universities, ranked universities, prestigious universities. But, globally, research-intensive universities are the exception and not the norm in their educational ecosystems. Most universities outside the wealthiest countries do not conduct extensive research and are not staffed by research-focused academics, and most students globally attend teaching-focused institutions. The well-developed tertiary education system is a symbiotic and organic network of diverse institutions, with complementary but distinct missions, populations, and expected outcomes. As a policy advisor, I approach this discourse from a macro-perspective—independent of institutions and governments—and that perspective will frame this lecture, which is centered on the theme of this conference—Remaking higher education for a more equal world. It is structured in four parts, all of which, to varying degrees, utilize the wisdom of Burton Clark as conceptual frameworks.

Read the full Working Paper here.