The Program for Research on Private Higher Education
Dedicated to Building Knowledge about Private Higher Education around the World
WP No.1

Unanticipated Development: Perspectives on Private Higher Education's Emerging Roles


Levy, Daniel C. (2002)  "Unanticipated Development: Perspectives on Private Higher Education's Emerging Roles." PROPHE Working Paper No.1. Revised and published as: Levy, D.C. (2006) The Unanticipated Explosion: Private Higher Education's Global Surge. Comparative Education Review, 50(2), 217-240.


The global explosion of private higher education, astonishing in extent and intensity, often catches government and most other observers by surprise. Rarely is the private surge centrally designed or even widely anticipated (despite being related to visible and broad economic, social, political, and international trends). Public policy commonly emerges only in delayed fashion. 

Although not all private growth is unanticipated, the unanticipated share is large and it encompasses a startling range of otherwise contrasting settings. It is useful to identify and analyze the settings, quite common ones, where unanticipated development is most characteristic. These settings include demand-absorbing institutions, which dominate private growth in most countries. They include countries with little or no private higher education tradition, particularly in the developing and post-communist worlds. They also include situations in which private higher education is notably different from public higher education.

Date Published:
Apr 2002