University As Axiological Platform Of Educational Space: Retrospective Analysis


The modern reality with permanently changing socio-cultural, political and social, technical and information conditions offers a new view on education as on the driver of all processes in society. The university as one of the main social institutes is urged to realize axiological tasks: ensuring continuity of cultural traditions, valuable orientation of pupils, introduction of the individual to the world of culture, formation of public and spiritual life of the personality. The modern university shows trinity of systems: education, culture and science. At different stages of historic development of society, within this or that political and economic formation, value-oriented function of university received the differentiated nature of realization. Values are in turn created by a certain, socio-historical practice, used for personal development and achievement of social progress, play the principal role in the course of integration of the socio-cultural system and the personality. It reveals a role of the valuable bases in formation of culture both professional, and university. However, in the conditions of globalization, information oversaturation, a humanization of educational processes, the university gains some traits which are new and initially uncharacteristic for it.

Keywords: Axiologicalvaluable prioritieseducationsocio-cultural system


In the modern world education can be considered as some kind of guarantee of permanent development of the processes in society. The university which fundamental task is ensuring continuity of cultural traditions, valuable orientation of future graduates in rapidly changing conditions of everyday life acts as the social mechanism providing realization of these processes. The modern university unites three systems: education, culture and science. This trinity is distinctly revealed in its poly-functionality.

Training, research, professional, service, cultural and humanistic these are some of the few functions realized in university. The author of the article focuses the main attention on socio-cultural functions, especially on the up-bringing which represents the process and result of broadcasting values directed to the process of formation in students of the moral and esthetic, emotionally charged relation to the world.

The definition "value" was created historically for a special type of designation of the relation of the person to universe questions. In its set, values form the system of values as an internal core of culture; it conforms requirements and interests of individuals and society, helps the first to make a choice of a desirable form of behavior in significant situations. Values are created by a certain social and economic formation, socio-historical practice, used for development of the personality and achievement of social progress, have a paramount importance in the course of integration of the socio-cultural system and the personality. It has caused a role of the valuable bases in formation of both professional and corporate culture (Legostaeva, 2015).

Problem Statement

During the retrospective analysis, the author has made an attempt to research the following questions: features of origin and formation of the university as one of the main social institutes; transformation of the fundamental tasks solved within university education; dynamics of classical university values within models of "ideal" university; signs of the modern university as an axiological platform for students and teaching community.

Research Questions

Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of the study consists in detection of features of transformation of fundamental values of university as an axiological platform. The change of value orientations of the educational environment is caused by the influence of factors, external in relation to it, such as economic, political, socio-cultural, geographical, scientific and technical, and also internal, that is cultural heritage, traditions, foundations, behavior models, value orientations of a concrete historic formation. The author focuses the main attention on socio-cultural functions as considers the university as an axiological phenomenon.

Research Methods

To track transformation of the university as an axiological phenomenon in scales of world practice of education, in culture space, it is necessary to use a method of the retrospective analysis.

Results of the Research and Discussion

The medieval cities at the turn of the 12th -13th centuries felt the strong need for experts in such areas as medicine and law. The need in transfer and development of cultural heritage of an antique civilization became obvious. In Spain and Italy, there were prerequisites of creation of universities; their general cultural orientation was developed. The term "university" (Latin of universitas – an integrity, set, a community) firstly was used for naming corporate community of lecturers and students, designated the certain operating guild (Butyagin & Salmanov, 1957). At the designated stage of formation of universities, the arising education system could be considered as the system reflecting a condition, tendencies and the prospects of development of society. The education system is characteristic of every cultural and historic stage of development of society and the state. Early universities are characterized by openness unlike other corporations of that time – schools and guilds which activity had especially closed character.

The word "Universitas" in the 12-15 centuries "was used for designation of set of persons with common interests and the independent legal status: either strong guild, or municipal corporation …". The term "Universitas" was reproduced most often in the academic context, designating a set of students and teachers, excepting an idea of university as certain abstraction (Ladyzhets, 1992, p. 15).

Even during the early periods of the development, universities showed an ability to form a region. The university consolidated not only students and teachers, but also all "the academic citizens", giving the corporate rights: financial privileges and other grants, gave the chance to make active public and scientific life of the city. In the developed socio-cultural conditions, education acted as the stabilizing factor which united new, more progressive representations, judgments with ideals of the previous generations and historical traditions. In the course of transformation of world outlooks and ideological views, education performed the stabilizing function. Thus, the university, according to the opinion of W. Rüegg (1992), can be considered from the point of view of "a product and an image of the time". The university as the main tool of an education system, promoted reproduction and transfer of historical, social experience, promoted formation of the general European intellectual tradition and the academic elite which foundations were based on the general European values (Grant, 1984). Summing up the results of the above considered period, one can note that the fundamental task of universities of the medieval period was the providing the continuity of cultural traditions. And at the same time, preservation of identity of the system of values, which were developed earlier, was implemented successfully.

Renaissance represents the period when a role of most universities as leading intellectual centers of Europe was lost. There was a shift of a value focus from natural sciences to the prevalence of humanities; as a result, there were scientific academies which main task was research activity. Modern Times was the period of preservation by universities of the cultural and ideological vocation. The main features of education, and, therefore, of universities of Modern times are expressed in the following:

1. Education – as a way of entry of the individual into the world of culture. The cultural heritage of the country, the people inhabiting it, everyday life of the person became a source of the content of the educational process itself; the intra-university environment determined rules and style of behavior, a manner of a person`s communication in the social environment, broadcasted the culturally formed examples of behavior.

2. Education as the practical tool providing continuity of generations. In the university, a certain corporate culture was formed and "lived", which kept the system of the values, developed in society. Traditions of university culture quite often performed the defining function in processes of education and up-bringing of a new generation. The students involved in the space of socio-cultural traditions adopted the style of behavior, values, interests, which were principal for a concrete historic formation.

3. Education as a mechanism of formation of public and spiritual human life: universities of modern times concentrated models of socio-cultural activity of the person and spiritual and moral capacity of the country.

In the 13th century, Renaissance ideals formed classical models of ideal university acted as an ideological basis of formation of university. The basic principles forming a basis of these models clearly demonstrated those values which in the future would form an axiological basis of corporate culture, at first, of the Slavic, and after – of the domestic universities.

Emergence of an "ideal" model of the university is connected with a name of the German philosopher, Friedrich Wilhelm von Humboldt. There were three principles which made the basis for the classical model of Humboldt (1956) university. The first principle denied a utilitarian view on education, defining it as primitive, and proposing not to estimate all sets of knowledge only from a practical side. The second principle urged not to regard empirical science as a thing of paramount importance; otherwise, fundamental theoretical knowledge would lose its value and significance. The third principle claimed a priority of humanitarian education without which a comprehensively educated person could not exist. According to this model, the predominating principles of classical university were: support of university from the state; the academic freedom in researches; inclusion of teaching community and students in activity of university; learning as a sign of intellectually developed personality. Humboldt's model which has personified trinity: training, education, researches became a standard for development of the European and American universities.

The English philosopher J. Henry Newman offered a new model of "ideal" university which main idea consisted in a creation of the university which main field of activity was that formation of intellectual culture would be exclusive (Renz, 1958). He emphasized the necessity of maintenance of liberal traditions for education as they correspond to its nature the most. Newman's approach met criticism from supporters of Humboldt's model; the social and economic situation in England became a source of inability of universities to keep up to date. Thus, Newman and Humboldt's models proved that the educational space of the university sought for realization of its main function that is cultural one.

The beginning and the middle of the 20 century is characterized by the shift in discussion of problems of the university from a "university – as an axiological platform of society" position concerning "responsibility of the university which should stick to an education ideal". Social mobility promoted big inflow of masses to universities that served for formation of the opinion of potential threat to education. There was a viewpoint (Durkheim, 1956), according to which the increased social mobility, on the contrary, would lead to blossoming of universities and "all will cooperate for the benefit of all and everyone".

The supporter of this position, M. Weber (1990), considered education to be the accelerator of cultural changes and transformations in life of the society as a whole. The students "live" cultural traditions, which are acquired in the course of training at the university and professional activity. In a situation when traditional values are washed away by socio-cultural processes, new values have not gained the development yet, universities in which a lot of people study should be aimed at formation of ethics of responsibility in future professionals, scientists, politicians. Reproduction of the intellectual elite is possible only on condition of independence of university from the state and existence of the academic status, which is an obligation to teach community to distinguish between facts and values. Teachers have to be limited in introduction of the ideals and values into a training process; specialization could provide such neutrality of a world outlook of the teacher.

In the post-war time, in the conditions of axiological uncertainty, other point of view was adhered by K. Manheim (1994), claiming that specialization could lead to neutralization of interest of society in real problems and ways of their solution. Autonomy of the personality is impossible if social conditions, in which this personality develops, would not be taken into account.

T. Veblen emphasized criticality the situation which developed in education; the university became the center for production of elite: engineers, technicians, businessmen. Education was quite often considered as a type of goods that suggested an idea that the university could be estimated by criterion of presentability. The university receives multipurpose orientation.

The service function was officially recognized as the new function of university of the end of the 19th century. It led to changes in value orientations of activity of universities and was an incitement to expansion of space of its development, a combination of specialized professional training with natural sciences education. Many saw such negative side as a decline in quality and degradation of value orientations of university education in versatility of training.

The philosopher H. Ortega-y-Gasset insisted on revival of the university as a central cultural link of an education system. The idea of the university according to H. Ortega-y-Gasset was based on the thought that the mission of the university consisted in educating the person, his familiarization with culture of the era. The education function is not so much in transfer of social experience in time, but it is designed to reproduce forms of public life in a cultural area (Graham, 2001). The model of an ideal university of H. Ortega-y-Gasset could be treated as "cultural and humanistic".

The model of the Research University offered by Karl Jaspers is based on the consideration that the tasks of the university are directed not only to transfer ready knowledge, abilities, but to form the person in general. Jaspers offers to combine research and training with a cultural component, thereby putting university to the level of the cultural center. This trinity became the classical basis of modern university education around the world.

M. Hutchence in the book "University of the Utopia" declares that the mission of the university is to solve intellectual problems that provides preservation of its integrity. He also refuses from the service function of the university as discrediting an intellectual component and emphasizes the importance of rapprochement of value orientations of teachers and students and calls for isolation of universities from negative impact of the outside world.

From the 70-80s, the occupation of the leading positions by universities in the state and society is more and more distinctly traced.

C. Кеrr (1987) names universities as a multiversity – special intellectual cities which for surrounding socio-cultural environment play the role of the leader. He introduced the term a "university complex" underlining a role of the university as the main economic resource allocated with the ability to define the directions of social and intellectual development. Thus, Kerr (1987) put forward the idea of "complexity" with orientation to cultural and service functions of the university.


The university of the second half of the 20 century is characterized by highly professional training of students, democratic principles in training, the aspiration to involve partners in joint research. There are ideas about valuable reference points of development of education in the world, the aspiration to reach balance for the mutual benefit of the university and society, maintenance of prestige of universities. R. Barnett (1999) in "Judgment of universities" says that there are some traits which are inherent in a modern university: critical interdisciplinary, target revival, mobile borders, involvement, and communicative tolerance.

The "entrepreneurial" model of the university (Clarc, 1998) is especially interesting; its basis is the formation of the expanded periphery of development of the university; stimulation of the academic kernel; advance and formation of beliefs and values of the enterprise environment in the space of the university. The model of «entrepreneurial» university is more flexible and has a tendency "to clone" processes or structures that are not the best approach to creation of the true entrepreneurial culture (Milters, 2014).

The universities of the 21 century experience and continue to come under influence of processes of globalization. Success in realization of many functions assigned to modern universities in many respects depends on their adaptability, ability to show the necessary degree of flexibility to requirements of educational space. Often it means refusal of the created earlier valuable reference points. Changes, search for itself in modern socio-political reality have to become a reply of universities to changes in society, culture and knowledge. The university of the 21 century is the global establishment capable of effective functioning in the tripartite relations with government and multinational corporations, capable of forming knowledge as a science and promoting development of new technologies, and also knowledge as culture – that is to remain an axiological platform for students and to promote their socio-cultural development.


The university is the special educational center which appeared during the Middle Ages era. It became a symbol of culture of the European civilization, realizing the main educational functions: training, research, professional, service, cultural and humanistic.

Having considered genesis of the value-oriented function of the university in a historic retrospective, it is possible to draw a conclusion on existence of the mechanism of formation of valuable priorities in the educational environment. This mechanism differs in chronological unevenness in manifestation. At a certain historic and cultural stage of development of society and within a certain social and economic formation, it is possible to observe a reduction or increase in the number of valuable orientations of the university in the course of its evolution.

The university of the Middle Ages was the main tool of an education system, which purpose was the transferring of historical, social experience and strengthening in consciousness of the younger generation of new political and social realities. And the main objective was ensuring continuity of cultural traditions and at the same time preservation of identity of the system of values which was developed earlier.

The university of Renaissance still was the main symbol of the educational environment. However, the mechanism of formation of valuable priorities came into effect and changed the course from natural sciences to humanities. There was some deactivation of the axiological function of the university. Ideals of Renaissance were transformed to classical models of an ideal university of Humboldt, Newman, Weber, Manheim, Ortega-y-Gasset, Hutchence and others. These models were the reflection of values which in the future served as the axiological basis of corporate culture first of Slavic, and after - of domestic universities.

The Modern Times was the period of preservation by universities of their cultural and ideological vocation. The education acted as a way of entry of the individual into the world of culture, as the practical tool providing continuity of generations as the mechanism of formation of public and spiritual human life. The university of Modern times was a model of welfare activity of the person and spiritual and moral capacity of the country.

Universities of the 19th century were consolidated on the service function that led to changes in valuable orientations of their activity. There were "cultural and humanistic" and "research" models of the university.

In the 70-80s, universities took the leading positions in the state and society, played the leading role for surrounding space and were called "multiversities". The cultural function of the university revived.

The second half of the 20 century was the time when universities returned to the ideas about valuable reference points of development of education in the world, revival of the traditional academic values connected with a concept of the public benefit (Collini, 2012).

Modern universities are the corporations realizing the interests of the personality and society which are seeking for reproduction of corporate spirit and culture of the predecessors, being an axiological platform, the base of which is the strong corporate culture providing effective realization of educational function within which the process of socio-cultural formation of the identity of the student becomes successful.


Copyright information

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

About this article

Publication Date

19 February 2018

eBook ISBN



Future Academy



Print ISBN (optional)


Edition Number

1st Edition




Business, business innovation, science, technology, society, organizational behaviour, behaviour behaviour

Cite this article as:

Legostaeva, I. (2018). University As Axiological Platform Of Educational Space: Retrospective Analysis. In I. B. Ardashkin, N. V. Martyushev, S. V. Klyagin, E. V. Barkova, A. R. Massalimova, & V. N. Syrov (Eds.), Research Paradigms Transformation in Social Sciences, vol 35. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 728-735). Future Academy.