Student activism and university reform in England, France, and Germany, 1960's- 1970's

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Harrington, Nan Katherine

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University reform has become one of the most important, complex issues of the past three decades. Initiated in the turbulent 1960’s as a response to demands for change, the governments of England, France, and Germany sought to provide change to their centuries-old systems of higher education, largely through politically expedient measures of reform. This study seeks to answer the question: With the passage of time, how effective were the student demands for reform? Purposes of Study:

  1. To determine the origins and objectives of the student-initiated demands for reform of the higher educational systems of England, France, and Germany in the 1960’s and early 1970’s?
  2. To determine the extent to which measure of reform have been, or are being, realized.
  3. To determine the nature and extent of change on the higher education systems, and on selected aspects of society.
  4. To compare and contrast the objectives and results of the student-initiated reform measures in England, France, and Germany. Methodology: This is a historical, comparative, analytical study which relied upon books; newspaper articles; journals; parliamentary records; interviews with professors in England, France, and Germany; and documentaries to provide data for the subsequent comparison and analysis. Findings: Research indicated that student activism was neither the sole, nor the prime, impetus for higher educational reform in the Sixties, but rather served a supplementary role, that of illustrating the exigency for legislative action. Students of the Sixties, however, changed the perception of the student role within the family, the university, and society; brought educational issues to the public consciousness; advanced the issue of accountability in academia; and earned students the acknowledgement of being a viable social force.