Moving In Different Directions: The Changing Role of Community Colleges in America and a Comparative Look at the System of Higher Education in China

Jorge Santiago



Community colleges in the United States of America have become an extension of government's concept for initiating, supporting, and managing attempts of social planning. The hidden qualities of community colleges are, in essence, transforming them into something like "Settlement Houses"1 of the new millennium. Selecting China's system of post-secondary education for comparative purposes, we find that while America is moving toward greater government control and influence, China has been moving in the opposite direction from total government control in quite recent times toward a more decentralized institution. This paper focuses on the convergence of social reform and public policy; a development that is leading many community colleges in the USA to adapt a broader interventionist approach to higher education.


 1 "Settlement Houses" historically addressed the economic and social needs of recently arrived immigrants to urban centers, along with English classes, assistance with immigration matters, housing concerns, health care needs, etc. Today's community colleges are providing such assistance to students whom are recent arrivals to this country. See: Wald, L., House On Henry Street, New York: Dover Publications, 1915, for an example of such an institution.


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