The case studies in this volume illustrate that who participates in HE is not a peripheral issue for HE itself, nor for the individual countries examined. It is part of how these countries understand themselves in the twenty-first century. The rest of the chapter unpicks this relationship between access and national identity, focusing on four themes emerging from the case studies in this book. It will be argued that a nuanced, holistic and connected discourse which locates equity within a broader set of challenges facing countries themselves and HE systems within/across them is required. What Clancy describes as the legitimized categories for access to HE differ across countries. Nor are they static. They appear to be ones that evolve and are shaped by wider socio-economic forces. The approaches (and commitment) of policymakers and practitioners to inequalities in access also contrast across countries and continents. But these differences are not ones that can be easily mapped against levels of economic development. Who provides the HE that will allow access to be expanded is clearly a pressing issue for those countries who are attempting to grow their systems – in Asia and Africa especially. However, this is not an issue confined to this part of the world. We see in North America and Europe, as well, the entrance of new kinds of provider into the system, providing challenges to how the development of established systems can be done in an equitable way. The chapter concludes by developing an approach to understanding access and equity in HE in the international context based around the concept of nationhood.
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