Higher Education and National Development

Higher Education and National Development
Cloete N, Maassen P, Pillay P


At a 1991 World Bank seminar, Castells (1993) argued that the knowledge economy is based on the combination of technological infrastructure, connectivity, and human resources, but that with- out human resources, nothing works. Also Powell and Snellman (2004: 201) emphasize the essential role of human resources in their definition of the knowledge economy as “production and services based on knowledge-intensive activities that con- tribute to an accelerated pace of technological and scientific advance as well as equally rapid obsolescence. The key components of a knowledge economy include a greater reliance on intellectual capabilities than on physical inputs or natural resources.”

In the knowledge economy, universities and colleges have gained political and economic importance as any society’s core “knowledge institutions.” While it is certainly so that many other organizations form an important part of national innovation arenas, universities and colleges are the only specialized institutions whose core business is the production, reproduction, and dissemination of knowledge, including the education of the next knowledgeable or suitably qualified generation (Maassen 2012). At the same time, the question about the relationship between higher education and “development” – a term that is so general and ideological that it is almost meaningless – has in general been neglected in the academic literature (Kimenyi 2011), at least compared to the global attention given to the importance of primary education for development.

Published in the International Encyclopedia: Meanings and Purposes of Higher Education. DOI: 10.1007/978-94-017-9553-1_18-1