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Reviewed by:
  • The Routledge International Handbook of Higher Education
  • Thomas Teuscher
Malcolm Tight, Ka Ho Mok, Jeroen Huisman, and Christopher C. Morphew (Eds.). The Routledge International Handbook of Higher Education. New York: Routledge, 2009. 544 pp. Cloth: $199.00. ISBN-13: 978-0415432641.

The Routledge Handbook of Higher Education is based on an evaluation concept of present trends and future accomplishments in the field of higher education. It mind-maps general and specific styles, gives detailed description of scenarios, approaches, methodologies, and interactions, uses global information, beliefs, and thoughts, and provides specific cases. It is directed to scientists who are interested in current issues of higher education from all over the globe.

In this context, the Handbook helps readers understand higher education systems in both global and local settings. Central to these systems is higher education research, a key function of higher education and a cornerstone of scientific innovation at national, regional, and international levels.

This book therefore has three goals: (a) Recognizing the strong plea for higher education research, central to understanding and enhancing the higher education and research systems that serve the knowledge society; (b) Understanding the socio-political, economical, and cultural dimensions of higher education as underlying elements of diverse higher education systems; and (c) Appreciating that higher education systems provide evidence that the knowledge society varies widely in form and modus operandi and that this cultural diversity must be celebrated as an indicator of dynamism.

The editors of the Routledge International Handbook of Higher Education convey to the readers a critical account of the status of higher education and institutional research based on examples from all over the world. The rich content of the handbook relies on case experiences focusing on specific samples, even on single cases. The selection represents a purposeful sampling of information-rich cases or examples from which the reader can learn a great deal more than by gathering standardized data from a large statistically representative sample. The handbook is organized according to eight themes: teaching and learning, course design, the student experience, quality, system policy, institutional management, academic work, and knowledge.

The topics identified in the handbook as current key issues of higher education are presented in a very comprehensive manner. They address the multiple demands and controversial issues of higher education with diversified provisions.

The topics as well as the approaches illustrated by the contributing authors analyze the current debate in higher education systems in a very thorough way. The examples of traditional approaches, beliefs, and good practices give an in-depth view of what is well understood and what problems higher education systems are facing around the globe. Models for these systems, as demonstrated, are necessarily diverse, since they must speak to varied social contexts.

New dynamics have emerged in each of the key domains of higher education systems, research, and innovation including demand, diversification of provisions, and changes in lifelong learning needs. [End Page 191] Despite global uniformity in areas of society, the authors give no single answer about what constitutes the most appropriate systems, structures, or policies for higher education, research, and innovation, because these critical processes take place in dynamic historical, social, economical, political, and cultural contexts.

Recognizing and promoting excellence in higher education to assure the continued discovery of and access to new frontiers of knowledge is a world-wide vital target which should be a goal that is possible for all countries regardless of their level of economic development. However, these frontiers often occur in the fields of science, technology, and engineering where highly educated and skilled human resources are necessary along with large-scale investments; thus, the handbook does not include cases from less-developed countries.

It is conceivable that research and higher education systems could be structured in even more effective ways, which means that experimentation in this direction should be encouraged with the findings being widely debated and shared on regional and global levels. For this reason, understanding local and indigenous knowledge through research is of the greatest importance. Excellence has many manifestations, and the search to define and conserve them can never be neglected because they are witnesses of the fundamental parity of cultures and their knowledge systems.

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pp. 191-192
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