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

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews/Textbooks
  • Journals
  • Datasets
  • Governance of Higher Education
  • Public Financing of Higher Education
  • Student Financial Aid and Tuition Policy
  • Public Policy and Community Colleges
  • Public Policy and Research Universities
  • Public Policy and Private Higher Education
  • National Policy for Higher Education
  • Accountability and Performance
  • Politics of Higher Education Policy

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Education Higher Education Policy
William R. Doyle
  • LAST REVIEWED: 15 December 2011
  • LAST MODIFIED: 15 December 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0119


Higher education policy involves the intersection between institutions of higher learning and governments. The field is concerned with understanding how policies concerning higher education come to be enacted, the effects of those policies, and how to change policies to accomplish societal goals. The study of higher education policy includes research investigating the ways in which governments oversee their institutions of higher education (governance), how governments pay for higher education (finance), how students and families pay for higher education (student financial aid and tuition), why certain policies are adopted (politics of higher education policy), and the implications of policies for particular sectors of higher education.

General Overviews/Textbooks

These works provide a general overview of the field of higher education policy. Produced by the American Society for Higher Education (ASHE), Public Policy and Higher Education (Goodchild, et al. 1997) is a commonly assigned textbook in higher education policy courses. It contains reprints of articles and chapters from various authors, which constitute many of the key readings in higher education policy. Finance in Higher Education (Yeager, et al. 2001) is particularly helpful for those interested in student financial aid policy and government funding of higher education. Heller 2001 provides a relatively current and well-researched overview of many of the key policy issues facing American higher education. Altbach, et al. 2005 covers a broader range of issues, but several chapters are of interest to policy researchers. Paulsen and Smart 2001 provides the most comprehensive overview of higher education finance policy from an economic standpoint.

  • Altbach, Philip G., Robert O. Berdahl, and Patricia J. Gumport. 2005. American higher education in the twenty-first century: Social, political, and economic challenges. 2d ed. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

    A broad overview of American higher education, with several chapters devoted to higher education policy issues. The chapters on external forces are most likely to be helpful to researchers interested in policy issues.

  • Goodchild, Lester F., Cheryl D. Lovell, Edward R. Hines, and Judith I. Gill, eds. 1997. Public policy and higher education. ASHE Reader Series. Needham Heights, MA: Ginn.

    A collection of previously published pieces, with readings both from the general policy literature and from the field of higher education policy.

  • Heller, Donald E. 2001. The states and public higher education policy: Affordability, access, and accountability. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

    An edited volume with discussions of many of the key higher education policy issues at the state level.

  • Paulsen, M. B., and J. C. Smart. 2001. The finance of higher education: Theory, research, policy, and practice. New York: Agathon.

    A series of foundational readings on the economic view of higher education and the implications of this view for the purposes of policymaking.

  • Yeager, John L., Glenn M. Nelson, Eugene A. Potter, John C. Weidman, and Thomas G. Zullo, eds. 2001. Finance in higher education. 2d ed. ASHE Reader Series. Boston: Pearson.

    A collection of previously published pieces, with an emphasis on the sources of funding for higher education, student financial aid, and the role of government in financing higher education.

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