David Mills (2022) Decolonial perspectives on global higher education: Disassembling data infrastructures, reassembling the field, Oxford Review of Education, DOI: 10.1080/03054985.2022.2072285
Abstract:The expansion of university systems across the planet over the last fifty years has led to the emergence of a new policy assemblage – ‘global higher education’ that depends on the collection, curation and representation of quantitative data. In this paper I explore the use of data by higher education policy actors to sustain ‘epistemic coloniality’. Building on a rich genealogy of anticolonial, postcolonial and feminist scholarship, I show how decolonial theory can be used to critique dominant global higher education imaginaries and the data infrastructures they depend on. Tracing the history of these infrastructures, I begin with OECD’s creation of decontextualised educational ‘indicators’. I go on to track the policy impact of global university league tables owned by commercial organisations. They assemble and commensurate institutional data into rankings that become taken-for-granted ‘global’ policy knowledge. I end by exploring the policy challenge of building alternative socio-technical infrastructures, and finding new ways to value higher education.