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  • 1 For definitions, see Volume 13, Issue 2 of LISA e-journal on “Anglo-Saxon Capitalism and the Englis (...)
  • 2 See David P. Dolowitz and David Marsh, “Learning from Abroad : The Role of Policy Transfer in Conte (...)

1This issue of LISA e-journal delves into the effect(s) of the financial and economic crisis on the domains of higher education and research, as well as their role in promoting or downgrading the Anglo-Saxon model of capitalism around the world.1 By “model” here we mean to imply both a “paradigm,” in the sense of a pattern, a vision of the world, as well as a way of doing things: an “example”, in the sense of something that we “reproduce,” “imitate” or “adapt”.2 This is more particularly evident in the case of policy transfer from the United States to Great Britain. However since the beginning of the financial and economic crisis in 2008 the leadership of the Anglo-Saxon model of capitalism has been seriously questioned. This model relied partly on the strength and reputation of the higher education and research infrastructures in the United States and Great Britain, both of which have been dramatically affected by the recent economic events. The crisis has dragged down the world’s major economic centers, and has impacted education and research systems worldwide. This has introduced a form of uncertainty and contestation as to the leading role of Anglo-Saxon economies in the world, which was based on their economic system but also their research and educational capacities.

  • 3 Bruno Amable, Les cinq capitalismes. Diversité des systèmes économiques et sociaux dans la mondiali (...)

2Bruno Amable has in fact identified education as one of the “key institutional domains”3 through which models of capitalism may be compared. And, indeed, there have been many changes implemented in higher education and research since the beginning of the financial crisis (changes in academic and research priorities, curriculum and governance reforms, “managerialization” of higher education, mandatory research assessments, rising cost of college fees, reduced public funding, fundraising policies, “commodification” of research, teacher layoffs, student debt, etc.).

3The articles presented in this issue provide us with a greater understanding not only of the role of the Anglo-Saxon model of capitalism in shaping the higher education systems of various countries, but also of the effects of the 2008 economic crisis on these systems. They raise the following questions : what defines the Anglo-Saxon model of higher education and research compared to others ? What has changed in the functioning of universities and research institutions ?

4The question of financial dependency was brought up again during the financial crisis, especially in relation to student access to higher education, but the relationship between public universities and governments also needs to be addressed. What obstacles are in place for low-income and minority students ? How has the financial crisis modified the traditional relationship between higher education/research and other institutions and government agencies ?

  • 4 Peter Hall & David Soskice, Varieties of Capitalism: the Institutional Foundations of Comparative A (...)
  • 5 Gary Becker, “The Economic Way of Looking at Life”, Nobel Prize Speech, 1992, <http://nobelprize.or (...)

5Peter Hall and David Soskice, in their analysis of Varieties of Capitalism,4 considered as “a premise that systems of education and training depended on the presence of regulatory regimes that were the preserve of the nation-state”, thus showing the close link between education systems and government regulations. Education, which was long considered to be a public good and a social responsibility of the state or local communities, is increasingly seen as a private economic investment opportunity. This is what Gary Becker defined as “human capital,” which impacts economic growth as well as the spirit of entrepreneurship.5 Individuals are encouraged to pursue education beyond the secondary level due to the increased value placed on college degrees on the labor market. In parallel, governments have embraced the model which establishes that competition between different institutions of higher education and research will spur more scholarly advances and improve the overall quality of the education system. As a result, starting in the last quarter of the 20th century, many educational and research institutions have become competitive, business-oriented organizations focused on costs, knowledge production and exploitation. Serving wider stakeholders rather than simply students or faculty, they vie for funds and world-class notoriety. Is this vocational, managerial, and entrepreneurial turn the consequence of the crisis experienced by liberal arts and the humanities in the latter part of the 20th century ? Is it the symptom of a more instrumental conception of science and knowledge ? An inquiry into these transformations and reforms in higher education will bring about new insights into the state of the Anglo-Saxon model of capitalism in the decades before the 2008 crisis and in its immediate aftermath.

6The articles for this issue, which cover the 20th and 21st century developments of higher education in the United Kingdom and the United States and specifically focus on the changes which have followed the 2008 economic and financial crisis. The articles also expand to other geographical of the world, are presented here in three main sections.

7In the first section, the authors look into the evolution of the relationship between the Anglo-Saxon model and higher education in the United States. Focusing on the issue of the emergence of “knowledge economics” and “the knowledge economy” in the United States, Martine Azuelos shows that this provides the backdrop against which higher education and research have gradually become envisaged as drivers of growth and competitiveness in advanced economies, which accounts for the specific attention they have received, as well as the emphasis placed on the need to increase the quality and funding of research. She also argues that it is no coincidence that the knowledge economy – both as a concept and a reality – emerged in the United States, an emergence which was rooted in a specifically American intellectual and institutional history : the seminal contribution of leading American economists to the emergence of the concept and the development of institutions (such as the patent system, the university system, private-public research partnerships or venture capital) have helped make “knowledge-intensive industries” key drivers of the dynamics of contemporary U.S. capitalism. Globalization of the knowledge economy in the past few decades has meant that while some U.S. ‘best practices’ may have inspired foreign nations, the pressure to boost research funding has risen in the US. This goes a long way to explain the role of philanthropy in American universities, a topic which Carole Bertonèche looks into. More specifically, she analyzes the impact of what she calls “philanthropic capitalism” on the American higher education system and proposes to see if this typical American experience can be transferred to the European model. It seems to be a feature of philanthropic capitalism that golden ages of wealth creation give rise to golden ages of philanthropy. This has allowed American elite universities to diversify their sources of funding, to thrive even in periods of economic crisis and to dominate the world of globalized higher education. Today, in a highly competitive world in which public money is in increasingly short supply, the American model of philanthropic capitalism is gaining ground throughout Europe to finance public services. Managing public budgets and public services is also an issue that Fanny Lauby looks into in her article. More specifically, she presents the effects of the crisis on the behavior of states regarding access to their higher education system. She shows how some states have used the budget crunch associated with the crisis to restrict access to higher education to vulnerable student populations such as undocumented migrants. Along with the rest of the unauthorized population living in the United States, these youths now have to face a serious backlash from state legislatures claiming to cut costs for their own governments. The crisis has in fact toughened the relationship existing between state governments and public institutions of higher education, and increased the exploitation of the latter by state legislatures in their opposition to undocumented immigration.

  • 6 Louise Morley, Theorising Quality in Higher Education, London: Institute of Education, University o (...)

8In the second section, the authors investigate the influence of the Anglo-Saxon model and its evolution throughout and after the crisis in the United Kingdom. In Catherine Coron’s article, the author provides an overview of the evolution of the British model of higher education since 1970 trying to define some of the most important characteristics of the Anglo-Saxon economic model of capitalism. The paper provides a description of the major reforms of the British university system in the past 40 years. The article investigates the influence of the neo-liberal model on the evolution of the British system in order to help those who use, compare and compile international statistics on higher education familiarize themselves with the cultural variations of the British higher education system. In the second article Louise Dalingwater asks the question : has education in the United Kingdom become a marketable product? She points to the blurring of the distinction between public and private services since the 1960s, especially in the education sector, and she argues that the conventional perception of education as a public service has been challenged in recent decades in the United Kingdom. Education is now one of Britain’s major exports along with other high value-added services, such as finance and business services, and government policy – such as the recent hike in tuition fees – has been a key factor in the transformation of education towards a marketed service. The article describes the transformation of educational services to show the extent to which this sector has become marketised in the United Kingdom. In the next article, Marie-Agnès Detourbe deals with the issue of academic research assessment in relation to the public budget devoted to higher education. She explores the evolution of research funding policies in the United Kingdom from the perspective of research assessment campaigns. Drawing on Louise Morley’s theory according to which institutional quality mechanisms can be said to be part of a “political technology” conveying certain ideologies,6 she argues that the definitions, working methods and criteria for research quality assessment have allowed the State to promote outcome-driven research at the expense of research for the sake of universal advancements, and has therefore influenced academic research practices in British higher education institutions.

  • 7 See Amartya Sen, “Equality of What ?” in McMurrin (ed.), Tanner Lectures on Human Values, Cambridge (...)

9Finally in the last section, the authors provide a wider perspective on the evolution of the Anglo-Saxon model, both from a theoretical and a transnational point of view. Nadeera Rajapakse proposes a theoretical argument for incorporating the issue of social justice - as articulated in Amartya Sen’s capabilities approach7 – in evaluating Anglo-Saxon models of higher education. Building on existing work on the capabilities approach within education, she argues that the notion of capabilities provides a useful theoretical and conceptual framework for a more meaningful understanding of issues relating to education. The capability approach is presented in contrast to the instrumental and the rights-based view of education, both of which fall within the framework of the competitive market model. Another theoretical perspective is presented by Sophie Koppe, who uses the example of Australia and the diffusion of some of its welfare policies across Asia. She shows that while some of these policies fit the Anglo-Saxon model, their adoption should not be understood as a new development in the diffusion of the model. What it tends to show nonetheless is that it is nearly impossible to find values that would be exclusive to English-speaking countries, which calls into question the relevance of an Anglo-Saxon model.

10Because of the focus on the Anglo-Saxon model, these articles primarily deal with the legal and philosophical framework of higher education and capitalism in the United Kingdom and in the United States. However such a topic will also require further investigations into the ways other regions of the world – and other economic models – have shaped their higher education systems and how they have dealt with the crisis.

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1 For definitions, see Volume 13, Issue 2 of LISA e-journal on “Anglo-Saxon Capitalism and the English-Speaking World : Paradigms Reconsidered,” edited by Martine Azuelos and published in 2015 (<>). This current issue and the previous one are the result of multiple collaborations among scholars involved with the French Research Centre on Anglo-Saxon Economies (CERVEPAS), whose work focuses on the economic evolutions of Anglo-Saxon countries and helps to highlight the role and evolution of the concept of Anglo-Saxon capitalism.

2 See David P. Dolowitz and David Marsh, “Learning from Abroad : The Role of Policy Transfer in Contemporary Policy-Making”, Governance, Vol. 13, Issue 1, January 2000, 5-23, and David P. Dolowitz and David Marsh, “Who Learns What from Whom : a Review of the Policy Transfer Literature,” Political Studies, Vol. 14, Issue 2, June 1996, 343-357.

3 Bruno Amable, Les cinq capitalismes. Diversité des systèmes économiques et sociaux dans la mondialisation, Paris : Seuil, 2005.

4 Peter Hall & David Soskice, Varieties of Capitalism: the Institutional Foundations of Comparative Advantage, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

5 Gary Becker, “The Economic Way of Looking at Life”, Nobel Prize Speech, 1992, <>, accessed in October 2015. See also William J. Baumol, Robert E. Litan, and Carl J. Schramm, Good Capitalism, Bad Capitalism and the Economics of Growth and Prosperity, Yale University Press: New Haven, 2007.

6 Louise Morley, Theorising Quality in Higher Education, London: Institute of Education, University of London, 2004.

7 See Amartya Sen, “Equality of What ?” in McMurrin (ed.), Tanner Lectures on Human Values, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980 ; Amartya Sen, “The Standard of Living,” in Sen, Muellbauer, Kanbur, Hart, and Williams, The Standard of Living : The Tanner Lectures on Human Values, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987; and Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom, New York: Knopf, 1999.

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Catherine Coron et Fanny Lauby, « Introduction »Revue LISA/LISA e-journal [En ligne], vol. XIV-n°1 | 2016, mis en ligne le 25 février 2016, consulté le 24 mars 2023. URL : ; DOI :

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Catherine Coron

Catherine Coron est maître de conférences à l’Université Panthéon-Assas Paris II, où elle enseigne l’anglais appliqué à l’économie et à la finance. Ses recherches portent sur l’impact économique de la formation et de l’éducation au Royaume-Uni, ainsi que sur le capital humain, la formation des entrepreneurs, le modèle britannique de capitalisme et la notion de bien-être économique. Elle est l’auteur de nombreux articles sur ces sujets. Elle est membre du CERVEPAS.

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Fanny Lauby

Fanny Lauby est professeur agrégée et diplômée de l’École Normale Supérieure de Cachan. Après avoir obtenu un double doctorat à la Sorbonne Nouvelle et à la City University of New York, elle enseigne les Sciences Politiques à l’Université William Paterson dans le New Jersey. Sa recherche porte sur l’incorporation politique des immigrés en situation irrégulière, notamment par le biais de leur participation dans l’enseignement supérieur.

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