chapter  4
16 Pages

Professional Education and Knowledge

The changing ethos of higher education has coincided with a growth in interest in the place and form of professional education in HEIs. Becher noted the ‘near total neglect’ of professional subjects as a focus of academic inquiry, and attributed this to the difficulty of distinguishing them from their ‘surrounding domains of professional practice’. Professional educators have been subject to shifting expectations and closer scrutiny of employer interests, through professional accreditation bodies, for considerably longer than their disciplinary colleagues. Tensions exist between professional education and the professions. Siegrist summarised the history of the professions as intimately linked with ‘the social processes of modernisation and rationalisation; with professionalisation and bureaucratisation, with the development of school cultures and the meritocratic system and with juridification, medicalisation and technical and economic progress’. Professional schools regulate initial entry to, and standards achieved by, those aspiring to a particular profession, but are themselves regulated by representatives of the relevant profession, as well as by academic peers.