Reclaiming the Idea of the University as a Possible Solution to Today’s Crisis

  • Sonia Pavlenko
  • Cristina Bojan
Keywords: (idea of the) university, (economic) crisis, identity, legitimacy, purpose, values


Higher education has always been associated in one way or another with crisis. One could even argue that the university has always faced one type of crisis or another. The one debated the most is the economic crisis; however, there are many debates focusing on other types of crisis. Furthermore, all major reforms in the history of higher education (from Humboldt’s reform in 19th century Prussia to the views promoted by Y Gasset against the background of the Spanish revolution, or even the Bologna Process) have arisen as a result of a crisis. Today, the global economic crisis has yet again highlighted the fact that the idea of the university, the very foundation on which it was built, is no longer present when addressing contemporary issues in higher education. Our paper argues that there is an imperative need to reclaim and reconsider the idea of the university, as this could provide a possible solution to today’s crisis in higher education. Furthermore, we will attempt to show the reasons why this should occur, as well as the manner in which it could be achieved. The focus today is on too many minute, detailed aspects of higher education institutions, which are managed, evaluated, quality assured, ranked, assessed and so forth, while the global perspective on the university has been lost/ignored. Today’s crisis could be used as an opportunity to reassess and re-establish a relevant idea for today’s university. 


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