Navigating global-local tensions in accountability/autonomy policies: Comparative case studies in 'Asian' universities

Year: 2004

Author: Vidovich, Lesley, Currie, Jan, Yang, Rui

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The twin policy domains of accountability and autonomy have featured in recent education reforms in many countries, signalling new relationships between governments and educational institutions. Despite different national and localised contexts, a number of common 'global' trends have been identified. However, simultaneously context-specific differences are also evident. For us, the concept of 'globalisation', when it implies policy homogenisation, is too blunt an instrument to critically analyse these major reforms. We would argue that there are still too few studies on globalisation processes grounded in detailed examinations of particular historical times and geographical spaces. Our research is located within the tensions between global commonalities and localised differences.

This paper reports research on changing accountability and autonomy in higher education in three 'Asian' countries. Empirical data has been collected in the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong and Singapore in an attempt to begin to redress a 'Western' hegemony in such research. Within each national context two different types of universities became case study sites for the analysis of both commonalities and differences in accountability and autonomy policies and practices. The current paper focuses in particular on the conceptual and methodological framings of the research and presents some preliminary findings.