The Transformation of Higher Education
A radical transformation of higher education occurred over the course of a generation, encompassing major policy, institutional and structural changes. Far-reaching policy changes were driven mainly by an interventionist state in a context of societal and cultural modernisation. The transformation in HE policy reflected the breakdown of the traditionalist consensus on the purpose of higher education and its relationship with the state. The diversification of higher education and emergence of a recognisable higher education system on a binary model were shaped by human capital ideas mediated mainly through the OECD. Yet government policies were not grounded solely in human capital calculations: meeting a vastly increased societal demand for post-compulsory higher education informed decisions on diversification, expansion and reform. The emergence of the modern Irish higher education system occurred in a wider cultural context shaped by the breakdown of the protectionist economic consensus, the decline of traditional religious divisions and erosion of deference towards various forms of authority.