Higher education in developing nations is typically viewed from a dependency perspective - institutions are seen as merely recipients of Western knowledge, aid and reform efforts. Nevertheless, universities in both the centre and the periphery are dealing with tensions between protecting the public good and embracing neoliberal values based on a market approach to higher education. In the USA and Europe these competing interests are typically cast as mutually exclusive. Our study on the market approach to higher education in Kenya, however, suggests that public and private interests can be complementary, contributing to a re-envisioning of the traditional mission of higher education. This article seeks to examine more fully the nature of reform efforts at two universities in Kenya, to elucidate lessons for universities undergoing market-oriented reform in the West and to suggest a reciprocal relationship between institutions in Africa and Europe, upending the centre-periphery paradigm.
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