The four provocative scenarios identified for tertiary education are traditional, marginal open, marginal elitist and ambient. Traditional and marginal open scenarios represent societies of low knowledge intensities while marginal elitist and ambient represent societies of high knowledge intensities. The first scenario is where TES perpetuates specialization, compartmentalization and exclusivity. Under this, we have the traditional and marginal elitist scenarios.
According to Dator (2002), TES institutions in the traditional scenario function in communities where knowledge intensity of life has not changed much and the role played by institutions of tertiary education like colleges and universities remain the same as in the past. Istance et al (2003) explain that in his scenario, TES will continue with its traditional functions in research and teaching and there are many organizational responses to the increasing demand for research and specialized skills. However, research continues to mix profit and non-profit while teaching is mainly directed by the mass-model of compulsory secondary education (Brown and Paul 1998).
From a functional perspective, TES maintains its position along traditional lines as the chief source of upper level research, teaching, certification and legitimate claims of knowledge. TES is in control of the overall flow of knowledge. This is because a larger percentage of researchers are still university and for knowledge to be deemed valuable, some form of benediction from within TES is still required (Inayatullah and Gidley 2000).
In the Marginal Elitist Scenario, there is dramatic change in the socio-economic context yet TES institutions and their way of functioning do not change. Because of this, TES becomes marginal backwater and elitist bastion (Fullan 2003). With desperation, the past approaches to knowledge try to insist on past glory and their pride of place resulting to a small role in overall research