This article examines recent higher education projects in two resource-rich, developmental states: Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia. These projects are indicative of broader trend across Asia to move beyond previous national universities, toward a state-initiated model of the globally competitive university, which is designed to become an regional hub for elite education. Drawing on a range of qualitative methods, I consider the geopolitical context in which these projects have been conditioned and materialized, with a focus on how they are legitimated by policy-makers in the two case countries. By reframing discussions about the globalization of higher education in terms of a geopolitics of higher education, I argue that the cases of Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia are not exceptions set outside of the hegemonic liberal system, but that they are 'mirrors' of recent internationalization agendas undertaken by elite Western universities. Through considering localized discourses of promoting knowledge-based economies, I consider how elites simultaneously work with and reconfigure globally-hegemonic discourses, and specifically how these elite university projects are part of broader authoritarian political configurations in Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia.
- Academic capitalism
- Higher education
- Saudi Arabia
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science