What does higher education offer to make students competent actors in the world of work and other life spheres? This issue is most controversially debated in economically advanced countries since about four decades when higher education in economically advanced countries began to serve larger ranges of the occupational pyramid than merely the intellectually and professionally chosen few.
The author of this volume analyzes a broad range of issues over four decades of his academic career. Employers’ and graduate surveys, secondary analyses of education and employment statistics as well as analyses of policy and academic debates form the basis of the key argument: Neither trust in expectations formulated by employers or in income and status as measures of successful study nor isolated claims for the pursuit of academic knowledge for its own sake and for the critical functions of higher education are a suitable reference frame for understanding the dynamic links between higher education and the world of work. A “match” between the number of graduates and the corresponding positions or between the competences acquired during study and job requirements cannot be expected. Students are more ambitious and strive for a broader range of goals than they can expect to be rewarded. Graduates have to be both highly qualified experts and sceptics as far as conventional wisdom is concerned, and they have to be prepared for indeterminate tasks.
Key themes of this collection of essays are: the causes and consequences of an imperfect “match” between higher education and employment; the tensions between “employment” and “work” orientation in higher education; opportunities of a “highly educated society”; the dynamics of the variety of students, the patterns of the higher education system and the horizontal and vertical diversity of careers; different notions of higher education and the world of work among economically advanced countries; major controversial notions of professional relevance of study in policy and research debates.