In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section International Issues in Higher Education

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Textbooks
  • Journals
  • Data Sets
  • Access and Equity
  • Governance
  • Human Capital, Economics, and Finance
  • Accreditation and Quality Assurance
  • The Role of International Organizations
  • Corruption
  • Social Cohesion
  • Competition and Ranking
  • World-class universities (WCUs)

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Education International Issues in Higher Education
Stephen P. Heyneman, Jeongwoo Lee
  • LAST REVIEWED: 12 July 2019
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 April 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0018


International higher-education issues refer to those problems or dilemmas that pertain to more than one country or region. These can include the nature of student affairs, finance, professional misconduct and corruption, international trade, management efficiency, equity, institutional governance, academic integrity, student migration, research quality, and many others. Until recently, the study of higher education and the preparation of higher-education managers were predominantly North American. The literature on higher education and concepts of higher-education issues of importance are influenced by these origins. This is now changing. In the early 21st century, higher-education issues are heavily influenced by the nature of the changes in Western Europe, the former Soviet Union, and in East Asia and the Pacific. And the research on higher education increasingly reflects the new balance of these international issues. The study of international higher-education issues continues to be influenced by the North American context—endowments, differential remuneration of faculty, and transfer of course credits. On the other hand, many issues that were once considered solely North American are now international—enrollment ratios, dropout rates, and differentiation in institutional function. Finally, issues have emerged elsewhere, including the study of corruption, trade, research quality assessment, and undergraduate student achievement, which rapidly being studied within North America.

General Overviews

The following works provide an introduction to the field of international higher-education issues. Some do this without consideration of regional differences, including Allen, et al. 2012; Altbach and Peterson 2007; Goedegebuure, et al. 1994; Hirsch and Weber 1999; and Teichler 2007. Others provide an overview with a particular emphasis. For instance, Altbach, et al. 2009 tracks policies that were originally North American but today can be found globally. Altbach and Levy 2005 provides a perspective on private-sector higher education; Purcell, et al. 2004, on issues pertaining to women’s colleges. Also, Neave and van Vught 1994 tracks government issues; Knight 2008 and Qiang 2003, internationalization.

  • Allen, Walter R., Robert T. Terahishi, and Marguerite Bonous-Hammarth, eds. 2012. As the world turns: Implications of global shifts in higher education for theory, research and practice. Bingley, UK: Emerald.

    This book addresses four important issues facing higher education—(1) political and economic dimension of diversity in global higher education, (2) global impact of national higher-education policies, (3) diversity and inequality, (4) academic excellence in higher education—in a global context.

  • Altbach, Philip G., and Daniel C. Levy, eds. 2005. The private higher education: A global revolution. Global Perspectives on Higher Education 2. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense.

    This book outlines general global perspectives on private higher education and then introduces specific cases in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and the United States.

  • Altbach, Philip G., and Patti McGill Peterson, eds. 2007. Higher education in the new century: Global challenges and innovative ideas. Global Perspectives on Higher Education. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense.

    Analysis of six key challenges in higher education: academic profession, access and equity, higher education and social cohesion, private higher education, international student flows, and research universities.

  • Altbach, Philip G., Liz Reisberg, and Laura E. Rumbley. 2009. Trends in global higher education: Tracking an academic revolution. Global Perspectives on Higher Education 22. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense.

    Investigation of the main driving forces, in particular globalization and the massive demand for higher education, for changes in its scope and diversity, as well as the results of such changes.

  • Goedegebuure, Leo, Frans Kaiser, Peter Maassen, Lynn Meek, Frans A. van Vught, and Egbert de Weert, eds. 1994. Higher education policy: An international comparative perspective. Issues in Higher Education 1. Oxford: Pergamon.

    A volume providing not only comprehensive identification and analysis of the principles, structural features, and modes of different higher-education policies in eleven different countries, but also higher-education policies’ similarities and differences in international trends and issues and country-specific elements.

  • Hirsch, Werner Z., and Luc E. Weber, eds. 1999. Challenges facing higher education at the millennium. Issues in Higher Education. Oxford: Pergamon.

    An overview of some key issues in higher education, including challenges at the millennium, the future environment of higher education, and certain initiatives relevant to funding, governance, and alliance building between industry and institutions and technology.

  • Knight, Jane. 2008. Higher education in turmoil: The changing world of internationalization. Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and Taipei: Sense.

    Discussion of internationalization-related higher-education issues (e.g., quality assurance and accreditation, cross-border education, and higher education in a trade environment).

  • Neave, Guy, and Frans A. van Vught, eds. 1994. Government and higher education relationships across three continents: The winds of change. Issues in Higher Education. Oxford: Pergamon.

    Analysis of the relationships between government and higher education in twelve countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America to examine the effectiveness of specific types of government regulation, in comparison with those of other countries, targeted to address higher-education crises arising in many developing countries.

  • Purcell, Francisca, Robin Matross Helms, and Laura Rumbley, eds. 2004. Women’s universities and colleges: An international handbook. Global Perspectives on Higher Education 1. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense.

    This book, as an inventory of women’s higher-education institutions worldwide, provides a wide range of specific and detailed information and resources by region, all of which can be used as practical resources for research and studies on women’s higher education.

  • Qiang, Zha. 2003. Internationalization of higher education: Towards a conceptual framework. Policy Futures in Education 1.2: 248–270.

    DOI: 10.2304/pfie.2003.1.2.5

    Presentation of a conceptual and organizational framework for internationalization of higher education, including the meaning of, rationale for, and approach to internationalization and strategies to incorporate international dimensions.

  • Teichler, Ulrich. 2007. Higher education systems: Conceptual frameworks, comparative perspectives, empirical findings. Global Perspectives on Higher Education 9. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense.

    Description of various dimensions of higher education in Europe between the 1990s and the present, such as its changing role, access and admission, diversity of institutions, the Bologna Process, excellence, and education systems.

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