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Virtual university in a globalizing world: A comparison of policy initiatives in France and the UK

Chabert, Catherine 2009. Virtual university in a globalizing world: A comparison of policy initiatives in France and the UK. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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This thesis sets out to compare and contrast the conception, initiation and implementation of virtual university policy-making in higher education in the UK and France between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s. This thesis falls into a longstanding tradition of cross-national comparative education research. The central thrust of the argument presented here is that the more recent developments in the field cannot be understood as being solely a matter of implementing digital technology into higher education. Indeed, the core issues considered here relate less to the forms that this digital technology may take, and more to how competing models of the virtual university feed into broader questions of the type of learning-society they imply. The comparative method adopted is based on a well-established qualitative research tradition. With this tool, the model of the policy network is explored and is shown to have shaped the planning and implementation of the policy initiatives compared. Data consist of semi-structured interviews with policy actors, as well as a wide range of policy texts. The discourse on the knowledge-based economy strongly advocates the need for higher education to 'modernize' its structures and its curricula in order to support the requirement of the information society of tomorrow. Digital technology has been at the centre of the policy-making of the knowledge-based economy. Strongly associated with this is a tendency to over emphasize our powerlessness in the face of globalization. One of the outcomes of this comparative research is that human agency is as strong as ever and that far from national characteristics being swept away by global policy trends, the dominant relevance of local and regional characteristics in the design and implementation of such policy initiatives remains robust and enduring. The thesis argues that one of the key dimensions of the discourses surrounding the initiatives was not primarily about virtual higher education provision but rather was concerned with purely political agendas.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Lifelong Learning
Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
L Education > LF Individual institutions (Europe)
T Technology > T Technology (General)
ISBN: 9781303195709
Funders: Cardiff University
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 09 Jan 2018 23:04

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