Higher Education As a Common Good: Towards Conceptualization and Measurement of a Challenging Reality
Against this background, the paper aims to: 1) outline a theoretical framework for conceptualizing higher education as a common good; 2) develop an index for measuring the extent to which higher education has been realized as a common good in a given country; 3) reveal the influence of country’s specific institutional arrangements on the extent to which higher education functions as a common good in Europe.
We accept that higher education is intrinsically neither a private, nor a public or a common good. Being nested in the wider social and cultural settings higher education as a good is policy-sensitive and varies in time and place. The paper argues that the extent to which higher education is accomplished as a common good in a given country reflects its accessibility, availability and affordability and depends on country’s specific institutional arrangements.
The analysis uses cross-sectional data from the OECD, World Bank, Eurostudent survey, European Social Survey and Eurostat. We introduce an index which includes three sets of indicators referring to accessibility, availability and affordability of higher education. The preliminary results show that higher education as a common good is a complex phenomenon and that there are large country differences across European countries in the development of their higher education as a common good. We further distinguish various clusters of countries depending on the extent to which higher education is realized as a common good in them.