What is a University in the 21st Century?

Institutional Management in Higher Education

The term “university” has a longstanding history, yet its definition remains highly contentious at the turn of the century. According to conventional scholarship, the first university initially appeared as far back as the 12th century with the formation of the University of Paris and the University of Bologna (circa 1150 AD). Other scholars, however, contend that the university may have begun many centuries earlier, depending on the definition employed (Neave, 1999; Welch and Denman, 1997; Patterson, 1997). The intent of this article is to suggest a classification of universities for the 21st Century, with emphasis placed on the university's role in disseminating and advancing knowledge through scholarship and research. Drawing upon major historic events that have shaped universities in their various forms, this article discusses whether universities are designed to cater to market forces or are catalysts for change in an increasingly “knowledge-based” society.

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