Policymakers across the world have embraced higher education to generate the human capital believed to be essential for sustaining economic development and social welfare in the 21st century’s “global knowledge economy.” Attempts to disrupt universities and redesign inherited modes of education delivery have accompanied commitments to expanding access. This talk explores the regulatory strategies deployed by state authorities in Germany and the US, home to world-leading university systems, to sponsor the reorganization of higher education amidst growth during the past three decades. Its analysis shows how policymakers across borders have leveraged structurally equivalent competition-sustaining provisions to steer universities’ expansion. Beyond illuminating an underappreciated source of higher education’s global reimagination, this perspective elucidates the broader role and shifting function of regulation in contemporary states’ governance efforts. Instead of substituting for fiscal transfers, the main effect of increased regulation in higher education has been to condition the impact of public spending.
Tobias Schulze-Cleven is Associate Professor at the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations (SMLR) where he also serves as the Director of the Center for Global Work and Employment. His research examines comparative employment relations across the wealthy democracies from a political economy perspective. Interested in the challenges to and strategies for collective action at the nexus of social protection and economic growth, he focuses on contemporary European labor market policymaking and distributional conflicts in the ongoing transformation of higher education.