Comparative Models of Higher Education Administration

This  8-week course began May 13, 2014. The instructor for EDU/706 was Patricia Akojie, Ph.D.

Course Description

This course will present a comparative perspective of educational systems that exist in today’s world. Introducing the relationship between culture and education, the course will present a brief historical analysis of the social, political, economic, and development antecedents to educational systems. Cross-national comparative analysis, educational borrowing and transfer, and current trends and transfer in the British, French, German, Russian, U.S., and hybrid systems that serve as the basic models for higher education throughout the world. In the culmination of this course, learners will investigate the trends in unifying systems into a global synthesis of higher education.

Course Competencies

  • Describe the cultural, historical, philosophical, political, and economic foundations of educational systems in higher education.
  • Explore comparative higher education in multinational colleges and universities in the global context.
  • Analyze systems of education in emerging, progressing, and developed nations.
  • Evaluate e-learning challenges across a spectrum of national systems of higher education.
  • Examine current issues, trends, and challenges among private, commercial, and transnational higher education endeavors.
  • Apply analytical frameworks to problems in comparative higher education.

The first two weeks of most doctoral programs are devoted to reading. After that, each week has a topic and the assignments reflect the topic as well as relate to parts of the reading. The reading list for this course is listed at the bottom under references. Note that in addition to the required texts, there were a number of journal articles that were also required reading for each week.

  1. Reading Week
  2. Reading Week
  3. Foundations of Educational Systems in Higher Education
  4. Evaluate Comparative Higher Education in Multinational Institutions
  5. Regional Perspectives of Higher Education
  6. Systems of Higher Education in Emerging, Progressing, and Developing Nations
  7. E-learning Challenges for National Systems of Higher Education
  8. Issues, Trends, and Challenges in Comparative Higher Education


There were a number of assignments that required time and effort. However, I am just focusing on the papers. They  were as follows:

  • Week 3: Conduct scholarly research to broaden your ideas of foundational concepts. Compare the influences of cultural, historical, philosophical, political, and economical foundations in comparative educational research. Write a 1,050- to 1,750-word paper in which you discuss factors for analyzing the environment of higher education in an international context. Include in your paper: (a) sociocultural and historical foundations affecting higher education systems, (b) political legal structure and constraints which may foster or impede systems, (c) the economic/financial environment in which a system operates, and (d) supporting research. This assignment seemed fairly straight forward. I earned 79.5/80 on this paper.
  • Week 4: Conduct scholarly research on topics in the assigned readings to expand your understanding of global dimensions of higher education institutions. Create a graphic design of a draft framework for analysis which presents factors that influence the current status and an analysis of the global dimensions of a system of higher education. Consider including factors you analyzed in your Week Three paper, but focus your analysis on global dimensions in your draft analysis framework. The following list of factors are a few of the possible factors on which you might base an analysis of the global dimensions of a system of higher education: social, cultural, political/legal, economic, curriculum, scholar and student mobility, technology. Consider creating a matrix or other graphic display that will allow you to relate factors such as these with global, regional, and local/national dimensions of analysis for a selected system of higher education. The draft framework is added to and refined in Week Five and is used to compare specific systems in Week Six. Write a 1,750- to 2,250-word rationale for each of the factors you select. Support your rationale with citations from relevant literature and course material. I read the italicized part above as a suggestion of factors and did not address all of them. I was marked down for this. Additionally I struggled with the graphic. I am not a visual learner so this was challenging for me. I ended up using a mind map but with all of the information I crammed into it, it was too small to visualize on a computer screen in one pass. Additionally, I was informed that I needed to discuss the visual more in the paper rather than have it as an appendix. I earned 84/100 on this paper.
  • Week 5: Conduct scholarly research on topics in the assigned readings to expand your understanding of global dimensions of higher education institutions. Revise your graphic design of the Draft Framework for Analysis from Week Four. Include regional dimensions on which you might analyze the current status and success of a higher education institution from an international context. Finalize your framework for analysis to include factors from papers developed in Weeks Three and Four as well as added research from Week Five. Refine the rational and research that supports your position and revise the accompanying paper accordingly. The final framework (subject to revision based upon faculty member feedback) will be applied to a specific international system of higher education in Week Six. Again, I missed points for not carrying through with discussion on the newly developed matrix (I went with something more like a spreadsheet). I earned 185/200 on this paper.Also due in week 5 was a learning team charter. We were put into teams and I found myself in a team with two others from California. I got online a number of times and tried to make contact with the others to no avail. I ended up submitting a charter with just my information.
  • Week 6: Use your final framework for analysis as developed in Weeks Four and Five. Develop a 2,100- to 3,050-word comparative analysis of two selected national systems of higher education. Select at least six factors for which you will compare these two systems. While you may use your judgment in selecting the two systems, they should be sufficiently similar as to avoid wildly different systems (e.g., compare systems in two emerging nations or two systems in developed nations, but avoid comparing a system of higher education in an emerging nation with a system in a developed nation). Include supporting data and research to justify your ideas. Fully successful analyses will include significant research beyond the course texts and will be rich with additional citations. I learned from previous papers and did my paper on Canada and the United States. I earned 195/200 on this paper.
  • Week 7: In week 7 we had the learning team assignment: Write a 1,050- to 1,500-word paper in which you compare and contrast the impact of education technology, and particularly e-learning, upon the two selected national systems of higher education in the global context. Consider, among other factors, educational technology policies, e-learning technology, development of the Internet, and availability of electronic communications in your analysis. Include citations to reflect research beyond the course texts. I got online again and tried to make contact with the other two members of the team. When I received nothing again, I posted the two countries that I felt we could do–China and India–and eventually posted a draft of what I had thus far. Finally I heard from someone else who contributed little and did not work with me further. I turned it in along with my evaluation of team members including myself. As a team “we” earned 76/100 on the paper. It was my first C since entering the program.
  • Week 8: Prepare an annotated bibliography on current trends and challenges to higher education systems in the global context. Research scholarly articles, journals, and texts to support your research project. Go beyond the texts in your research. Compile an annotated bibliography of at least 12 sources. I earned 80/80 on this assignment.


I encountered a couple of challenges in this particular course. The first and obvious was the challenge of working with a non-responsive team. I realize there will be other opportunities to work in teams so I am trying to figure out what I’ve learned from this and how I might go about working in teams differently next time.

The other challenge came in clearly understanding the instructions. I recall early on I read that the initial response to the discussion questions was 300-400 words. I misinterpreted that to mean that ALL discussion posts needed to be that length. This meant writing essentially 8 short papers each week. I did it, and noticed that not everyone else was following suit. It was not until the end of the class when I asked the instructor for clarification and learned that responses to the discussion questions only had to be 75-100 words. I made the class much more difficult than it needed to be.


I feel I learned much about education on a global level. The research I did was fascinating. Education is clearly not universal. Additionally, I learned how to view various frameworks for analysis and include different factors. Finally I learned that education in Canada is very similar to that in the U.S. I may want to seek employment in Canada upon completion of my Ph.D.

I successfully completed the course with 939.5 out of 1,000. I earned an A- and 3 credits. So I have now completed 16 units and have 49 more to go.

Required Reading

Carr-Chellman, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Global perspectives on e-learning: Rhetoric and reality. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Forest, J. J. F., & Altbach, P. G. (Eds.). (2011). International handbook of higher education (Parts I and II). New York, NY: Springer.

Lane, J. E., & Kinser, K. (Eds.). (2011). Multinational colleges and universities: Leading, governing and managing international branch campuses (1st ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Supplemental Resources

African Higher Education Research Online. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://ahero.uwc.ac.za/

Crossley, M., & Watson, K. (2003). Comparative and international research in education: Globalisation, context and difference. London, England: RoutledgeFalmer.

United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization; Education. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.unesco.org/en/education

University of Twente Center for Higher Education Policy Studies. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.utwente.nl/cheps/

The World Bank: Education. (2010). Retrieved from http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTEDUCATION/0,,menuPK:282391~pagePK:149018~piPK:149093~theSitePK:282386,00.htm


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