Vision for Tertiary Education Under Free Market Policies: A Comparative Analysis of Contemporary Tertiary Education Policy of Zambia and New Zealand
In the past two decades economic theories of the 'market' have permeated economic and social sector policies of both developed and developing countries. Market mechanisms have become the main policy option upon which economic and social sector reforms, including tertiary education, have been premised. In this study I have compared trends in contemporary tertiary education policy of two countries: Zambia and New Zealand. Prior to 1980 in both countries education was predominantly a public monopoly and free at all levels. However, in the late 1980s and early 1990s New Zealand and Zambia respectively embarked on radical economic and social sector reforms based on the competitive market model. I have argued that market mechanisms in education policy of both Zambia and New Zealand had their origins in economic theories of the competitive market. These theories gained popularity at a time when countries were going through unprecedented economic difficulties. Thus, although on the surface competitive market policies would seem to suggest that the aim of government was to improve efficiency and accountability and to increase equity and equality of opportunities in tertiary institutions, under conditions of increasing demand on declining public resources and at a time when demand for tertiary education was increasing, it would appear that the long-term intentions of governments in both countries were to reduce public appropriation to tertiary education by transferring part of the responsibility of funding education to institutions themselves and to the beneficiaries of tertiary education. I have also argued that because New Zealand already had a prolific education system in place and a comprehensive student support system it was in a better position to operate its tertiary education system along free market lines. An under-developed tertiary education sector and lack of comprehensive student-aid packages in Zambia have meant that the implementation of market-oriented policies in tertiary education are likely to impact more negatively on the students, education institutions and Zambian society in general.