Higher Education in the Twenty First Century
Irish higher education was profoundly influenced by international institutions and ideologies which long predated globalisation: the interplay between global influences and the national cultural and political context is key to understanding the evolution of the modern HE system. The enduring strength of religious influences and institutions, exemplified particularly by traditional Catholicism, was a constant factor in Irish higher education until the 1970s. Human capital ideas disseminated particularly through the OECD were essential in underpinning the transformation of higher education in the mid twentieth century. Yet radical policy and institutional changes were also linked to demographic pressures driving intensified social demand and the legitimating power of egalitarian ideas. The contemporary underpinnings of government policy, where HE is identified almost exclusively with human capital formation, contrast sharply with the more diverse policy and ideological assumptions that held sway in the second half of the twentieth century.