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CFP: Complexity and the politics of knowledge policies: multi-issue, multi-level and multi-actor (2016 RCPP)

Complexity and the politics of knowledge policies: multi-issue, multi-level and multi-actor (Panel T03P05)

Conference2016 HKU-USC-IPPA Conference on Public Policy

When: 10-11 June 2016

Where: Hong Kong

Deadline for paper proposal30 January 2016

How & where to submit: select T03P05 and upload your proposal at

If you have any questions, please contact:

Meng-Hsuan Chou (

Jens Jungblut (

Pauline Ravinet (

Martina Vukasovic (


Complexity and the politics of knowledge policies: multi-issue, multi-level and multi-actor 

The complexity of policy processes and the relationship between instrument choice and impact have always intrigued scholars of politics, public policy, and public administration. Indeed, complexity constitutes a key element in established public policy theoretical frameworks such as punctuated equilibrium, multiple streams, and is at the core of Lindblom’s science of ‘muddling through’. In recent years, policy scholars such as Cairney and Geyer have pushed for embracing complexity as a foundation and starting point for policy analysis. These scholars advocate a ‘complexity theory’ approach that enables researchers to attend to both top-down as well as bottom-up dynamics, interests and behaviour of various actors, and how policy ideas, goals and instruments are interpreted and transformed during the policy process.

This panel engages with the complexity approach in public policy through the case of knowledge policy, which refers to basic and applied research, innovation, and higher education. The issues at the core of these policy areas are cross-cutting, which means that their governance does not neatly fall into one single policy domain (multi-issue). Indeed, they often require collaboration across multiple policy sectors as the different aspects of knowledge policies are under jurisdiction of different ministries (multi-actor). Due to increasing processes of international and subnational coordination, developments in the knowledge policy domain are a multi-level endeavour. The case of knowledge policy thus offers a promising empirical avenue to explore the key concepts at the heart of ‘complexity theory’, as well as a bridge for interdisciplinary theoretical exchanges.

We seek submissions that address cross-cutting issues in the knowledge policy domains and the multi-actor and multi-level policy processes involved. Submissions are invited from all theoretical schools using quantitative, qualitative or mixed-methods approaches, but should demonstrate a good conceptual understanding of the complexity of knowledge policies with a clear empirical, preferably comparative, focus.

CFP: Policy failures in the knowledge domain (2016 ECPR)

Panel: Policy failures in the knowledge domain

Higher education, research, and innovation policy domains have undergone dramatic changes in recent decades. Embedded in these changes are assumptions about failure and learning, and the belief that the ‘new and novel’ would ‘right’ the ‘wrongs’. Yet our understanding of the failure-learning mechanism remains under-developed. Indeed, social scientists often conflate three distinct types of failure—politics, policy, and instruments—in their analyses.

The consequences of failure also remain an on-going question. Do all failures lead to sizeable policy change or to less dramatic reforms or tinkering? Or to no actions at all? While spectacular policy failures are historically memorable, the subtle failures that trigger incremental changes, or indeed the acknowledgement of their very existence, are less examined. For instance, what are the modes of institutional change? To what extent do these changes lead to reform?

The above observations raise several questions about failures and learning in knowledge policymaking which scholars of public policy, comparative politics, international relations, and social sciences in general have only begun to address. These include, but are not limited to: why do some policy failures lead to institutional collapse or abandonment of policy ideas, while others do not? Indeed, why are some policy ideas more sticky than others? To what extent do policy failures shape the institutional design of international, regional, and national, and sub-national decision-making? Is there a cycle of failure and learning involved in the everyday functioning of political and knowledge institutions (e.g. universities and research institutes)? And, if so, how do we first detect and then determine which ‘failure-learning’ mechanism is weak and which one is robust?

This panel invites papers that seek to identify and unpack the failure-learning mechanism operational in specific knowledge policy changes. It welcomes a diversity of approaches – qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods – from all scholars and practitioners interested in the above questions.

This panel is proposed for the 2016 ECPR Section (7-10 September 2016, Prague). Please contact the panel chair before 24 January 2016 with your abstract (300 words) if you are interested in submitting a paper for this panel. 

CFP: Politics of Access in Higher Education Systems (2016 ECPR)

Panel: Politics of Access in Higher Education Systems

  • Co-chairs: Beverley Barrett, University of Houston ( and Karel Sima, Centre for Higher Education Studies, Czech Republic (

Expectations for greater access to higher education systems have followed trends reflecting an increasing number of democratic countries in recent decades. Given the acceleration of globalization, with pressure for greater access to higher education, the politics of access for domestic and international students remains contentious for entry into competitive academic programs worldwide.  Considering the power of ideas, interests, and institutions, how do specific national goals and policy strategies to increase educational access compare across countries and across regions?  In which countries and regions are trends for increasing educational access most innovative and most effective?

We invite contributions that compare and examine the extent to which these higher education access initiatives, across continents, support learning objectives and graduation outcomes that are innovative and effective supporting employability.  In recent years, we have observed a proliferation of national and regional strategies for increasing access to higher education around the world: in Africa, Asia, Latin America, North America and Europe. The European drive to consolidate the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), since the early 2000s, has higher education attainment as an explicit objective.

This panel focuses on questions that address how national policy strategies on access confront current issues and developing trends. What are the higher education policies to accommodate domestic and international students towards the goal of increasing access? What are innovative and effective policy instruments, and what have been their impacts across countries and continents? How do unique actors (governments, institutions, academics, students etc.) actively engage in decision-making processes in complex multi-actor environments reflecting distinct preferences and goals?

The wave of higher education expansion in Western world in the 20th century was fuelled by the population growth of post-war baby boomers. This resulted in mass higher education systems in most of the European and American countries. Consequently the student populations have substantially changed reflecting sociocultural diversity. Furthermore, internationalisation has become an objective for higher education in the 21st century in the EHEA and across continents. These trends have changed not only the form and content of higher education, but also education’s role in the knowledge-based economy and society.

The international mobility of students in higher education continues to accelerate. Countries seek to retain talented students, supporting objectives towards national competitiveness, while being open to global talent, overlapping with objectives for internationalisation. As countries become more developed, access issues continue to become more pressing within a knowledge-driven economy. Developing economies that can accommodate increased access to education, at every level, are investing invaluable knowledge creation that leads to productivity.

This panel addresses trends for increasing educational access, identifying innovative and effective national policy strategies that address challenges of the internationalised mass higher education of the 21st century. We invite contributions that would analyse these trends on various levels of governance, and from perspectives of multiple actors, as well as those that employ a comparative approach on international, institutional, and disciplinary levels.  

This panel is proposed for the 2016 ECPR Section (7-10 September 2016, Prague). Please contact the panel co-chairs before 24 January 2016 if you are interested in submitting a paper for this panel. 

Are English Universities likely to stop having to comply with EU public procurement law?

Albert Sanchez Graells

One of the elements implicit in the on-going discussion about higher education reform in England concerns the extent to which changes in the funding and governance structure of HEFCE (to be transformed into the Office for Students, or any other format that results from the consultation run by BIS) can free English universities from their duty to comply with EU public procurement law.

The issue is recurring in the subsequent waves of higher education reform in England, and the same debate arouse last summer following BIS statements that the most recent reform (lifting the cap on student numbers) would relieve English universities of their duty to comply with EU public procurement law (see discussion here).

Overall, then, there is a clear need to clarify to what extent English universities are actually and currently obliged to comply with EU public procurement rules, both as buyers and as providers of services. That analysis can then inform the extent to which in the future English universities are likely to remain under a duty to comply with EU public procurement rules.

This is what my colleague Dr Andrea Gideon and myself have done in our paper “When are universities bound by EU public procurement rules as buyers and providers? – English universities as a case study“. As the abstract indicates

In this study we provide an up-to-date assessment of situations in which universities are bound by public procurement rules, as well as the combined changes that market-based university financing mechanisms can bring about in relation to the regulation of university procurement and to the treatment of the financial support they receive under the EU State aid rules. National differences in funding schemes are likely to trigger different answers in different EU jurisdictions. This study uses the situation of English universities as a case study.

The first part focuses on the role of universities as buyers. The traditional position has been to consider universities bound by EU public procurement rules either as state authorities, or because they receive more than 50% public funding. In the latter case, recent changes in the funding structure can create opportunities for universities to free themselves from compliance with EU public procurement rules.

In the second part, we assess the position of universities as providers. Here the traditional position has been that the State can directly mandate universities to conduct teaching and research activities. However, new EU legislation contains specific provisions about how and when teaching and research need to be procured if they are of an economic nature. Thus, accepting the exclusion of university services from procurement requirements as a rule of thumb is increasingly open to legal challenge.

Finally, the study assesses if and in how far universities can benefit from exemptions for public-public cooperation or in-house arrangements either as sellers or buyers. 

The full paper is available on SSRN:

We have submitted our piece of research to BIS as part of the consultation on the green paper. We hope that our research and the insights it sheds can inform the discussion on the new mechanisms for the allocation of the teaching grant to English universities (and particularly the discussion around Q18 of the consultation).

Dr Albert Sanchez Graells is Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Bristol Law School, and a Member of the European Commission Stakeholder Expert Group on Public Procurement (2015-18). He is a specialist in European economic law, with a main focus on competition law and public procurement. Albert is a regular speaker at international conferences and has been recently invited by the European Court of Auditors and European Commission as a specialist academic in public procurement and competition matters. He has also advised the World Bank and other international institutions regarding public procurement reform.

This post first appeared on: How To Crack a Nut


CFP: UACES CRN workshop on ‘The politics of knowledge: Europe and beyond’ (16-17 July 2015, Robinson College, Cambridge)

Workshop organisers:

Dr Meng-Hsuan Chou (NTU Singapore) – hsuan.chou [at]

Dr Julie Smith (Robinson College, University of Cambridge) – jes42 [at]

Mitchell Young (Charles University in Prague) – young.mitchell [at]


Workshop Aim

Knowledge policies are at the forefront of contemporary global politics. There is an accepted belief among policymakers that knowledge is the foundation on which societies coalesce and economies thrive. Indeed, the competition for knowledge can be said to be driving the global race for talent. For the second workshop of the UACES collaborative research network on the European Research Area, we invite contributions covering and going beyond Europe to examine the politics of knowledge policies around the world. This workshop is geared towards answering the following questions: What key themes should we address when we talk about the politics of knowledge policies? How and why are these themes crucial for our understanding of politics and policymaking in sectors such as higher education, research, and innovation?

We invite theoretical, empirical and comparative contributions that investigate the role of the ‘four I-s’ – ideas, interests, instruments and institutions – in the politics of knowledge policies. By role, we refer to the effects that ideas, actors (individual, organisational), policy instruments and institutions have had on the national, regional and global governance of knowledge policies, and vice versa. This focus on ‘roles’ is to enable a multidisciplinary discussion on whether these factors share defining characteristics across the different knowledge policy domains (research, higher education, innovation), between distinct governance levels, and within and across geographical regions.

Potential papers could explore a variety of themes. For instance, they may address how and why particular ideas (‘excellence’, ‘talent’, ‘21st century skills’, ‘knowledge-based’) find policy resonance around the world, while others fail to do so. Are some of the newly emerging ideas a repackaging of earlier ones and, if so, what accounts for their rise on the policy agenda? Papers may examine the configuration and re-configuration of actors from the public and private sectors in designing, shaping, implementing, promoting or blocking knowledge policy from above, below and through other governance channels. Contributions may investigate and compare the sets of policy instruments adopted to facilitate knowledge policy cooperation throughout the world’s different geographical regions. Here, for example, it would be interesting to identify whether there are standard sets of measures that bilateral or multilateral cooperation embrace for promoting collaboration in the knowledge policy sector. Papers may also assess the institutional set-ups introduced to facilitate knowledge policy cooperation, the mandates given and decisional powers delegated to these institutions, and the effects, if any, that these institutions have had over time.

This CRN continues to welcome scholars at all career stages, theoretical and methodological approaches to examining knowledge policy cooperation in Europe and around the world.

Workshop call for paper

We will provide accommodation, refreshments and meals for accepted presenters for the duration of the workshop. Applicants may propose more than one paper for consideration, but no one will be permitted to present or co-present more than one paper. We encourage student members of UACES to consider applying for travel funding (

Please contact any of the workshop organisers if you have any questions and please submit your proposal before the 13th of April 2015, 18.00 GMT at: 

Important Dates

13 April 2015 (18.00 GMT): extended abstract due

24 April 2015: acceptance notification

18 June 2015: workshop programme available

02 July 2015: full papers due

16-17 July 2015: workshop

Organising scholarly networks: workshop programme

Organising scholarly networks

18 December 2014, Gaskell Building Rm 210, Brunel University London


10.00:                 Coffee

10.30-11.30:       Keynote 1: Louise Ackers (Salford)

11.30-13.00:       Panel 1: Scientific Diplomacy

  • Tom Rusbridge (Sheffield): ‘England in Europe: Scholarly mobility in the sixteenth century’
  • Meng-Hsuan Chou & Tamson Pietsch (Nanyang Singapore & Brunel/Sydney): ‘Organising scholarly networks: a literature review’
  • Rasmus Gjedssø Bertelsen (Aalborg): ‘Arctic Science Diplomacy: accommodating a rising Asia’
  • Commentator: Julie Smith (Cambridge)

13.00:                  Lunch

14.00-15.30:       Panel 2: Impacts and effects

  • Branwyn Poleykett (Cambridge): ‘Being mobile, making meaning: studying exchanges of scientific ‘capacity’ between Denmark and East Africa’
  • Lisa Scordato, Trude Røsdal, Agnete Vabø, Siri Aanstad & Rachel Sweetman (Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education): ‘The impact of academic mobility programmes’ on strategic knowledge exchange’
  • Inga Ulnicane (Vienna): ‘What role does mobility play in international research collaboration?’
  • Commentator: Julie Smith (Cambridge)

15.30:               Coffee

16.00-17.00:     Keynote 2: Heike Jöns (Loughborough)

17.00:                Drinks

18.30:                Dinner for speakers

For further information, and if you wish to attend, please contact the organisers:

Dr Tamson Pietsch (Brunel/Sydney) tamson.pietsch [at]

Dr Meng-Hsuan Chou (Nangyang Technological University) hsuan.chou [at]


We acknowledge the generous support of the following institutions:

Society for Research into Higher Education

Nanyang Technological University Singapore

The University of Sydney

Brunel University London

Doctoral Education and the Knowledge Economy: European and U.S. Policy Debates

Corina Balaban and Susan Wright

How has doctoral education been changing in Europe and the U.S? Why, and what are the implications for researchers, institutions and wider society? Two experts opened this debate at the start of a project to train early stage researchers Universities in the Knowledge Economy (UNIKE). Prof. Pavel Zgaga from the Centre for Education Policy Studies, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, and Prof. Maresi Nerad, from University of Washington, Seattle, The United States (US) gave comprehensive accounts of how doctoral education had developed in the last decades in the EU and the US respectively. This offered the possibility to compare and contrast the current flagship models used in these two geo-political regions and consider possible challenges for the future.


Prof. Pavel Zgaga

Prof. Pavel Zgaga


Bologna Process and Europeanisation of the doctorate

What new forms of doctoral education have emerged in Europe, and how did they come about? Doctoral education was initially left outside the Bologna Process in Europe. The Bologna Process emerged at the end of the 20th century because undergraduate and masters’ level education in Europe was so diverse that universities had problems with mobility and the mutual recognition of degrees.

In parallel to the Bologna Process, which was initially an initiative of national ministers, the European Commission aimed to create a European Higher Education Area (EHEA) and a European Research Area (ERA). These two strategies came together in the idea of a ‘Europe of Knowledge’ which related both research and teaching to industry and the economy. This brought doctoral education onto the agenda.

The first political statement that was made on doctoral education was the Communique from the Berlin meeting of the Bologna Process (2003):

‘Conscious of the need to promote closer links between the EHEA and the ERA in a Europe of Knowledge, and of the importance of research as an integral part of higher education across Europe, Ministers consider it necessary to go beyond the present focus of two main cycles of higher education to include the doctoral level as the third cycle in the Bologna Process’ (Bologna Process, 2003: 7).

The European Commission then funded the forum for university leaders, the European Universities Association (EUA) to run a project called ‘Doctoral Programme for the European Knowledge Society’ (2004-2005), which resulted in the ‘Ten Basic Principles’ of doctoral education, discussed at a Bologna Process seminar in Salzburg (February 2005).

The document gave rise to long disputes about the definition(s) of the ‘European doctorate.’ One of the main challenges was finding a common ‘structure’ for the doctorate. Other goals of the doctorate were then established, for instance that it should be centered on interdisciplinarity and should prepare people not just for academic jobs but should give them the ‘transferable skills’ to work in industry and across the ‘knowledge economy.’ The communique also outlines the aim to increase the number of doctoral holders. As Professor Zgaga put it, ‘that forty ministers could reach agreement in this document was a huge step.’

In this context, the important question is: what does Europeanisation mean for doctoral education? A series of issues is still open for discussion. Arguably, the increase in the number of doctoral degrees signaled a transition from elite to mass doctoral education. Does this devalue the degree? Yet attempts were also made to improve the status of doctoral candidates by treating them as ‘early stage researchers’ (ESRs) (Bologna Process 2005: 4). EURODOC, the European Council of Doctoral Candidates and Junior Researchers, has been playing a key role in this respect. Can higher education institutions afford to employ rising numbers of ESRs and give them the working conditions of research staff rather than students? ESRs in the ‘Europe of Knowledge’ are not just expected to write a thesis on ‘cutting edge’ research but to acquire an array of ‘transferable skills’ and workplace experience at the same time. Does this ‘overload’ the degree and the ESR him or herself?

The interdisciplinary doctorate – a U.S. flagship

One of the main distinctive features of the U.S. doctoral education system is that it is decentralised, meaning that it is not regulated by a national or federal ministry of education, like it is in European countries. This is the reason why, historically, one cannot talk about ‘reform’ in U.S. doctoral education, since initiatives have never been taken at ministry level, but there have been important ‘changes’ brought about by funding agencies, within institutions and at the departmental level.

Doctoral education in the U.S. has steadily expanded since the Second World War and in the present context of globalisation and the knowledge economy, doctoral education has become increasingly market-driven. This market-driven, demand and supply orientation encourages competition between various doctoral programmes and also creates the need for comparison between them. To this end, doctoral programmes use similar systems of quality assurance, which lead to a greater standardisation of doctoral education and link them into broader processes of accountability.


If innovation is the means to achieve economic prosperity, doctoral education is seen as a way to train innovators for various sectors. Doctoral education is subjected to both external and internal forces to higher education that connect it to the demands of the labour market and, as in Europe, the doctoral degree has become a commodity that has value beyond academic knowledge production.

The National Science Foundation has initiated one particularly successful model of doctoral education called IGERT (Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship). Highly competitive funding is awarded to selective institutions to develop research doctoral programmes with the following features: engaging novel research themes; developing inter/multi or transdisciplinary approaches; based in research teams; building professional and personal skills into the curriculum; preparing students for academic and non-academic careers, via connections to the outside world; and encouraging international components.

To use Gibbons et al.’s (1994) terminology, both the European and U.S. debates focus on a shift from ‘Mode 1’ knowledge production (traditionally known as the ‘apprenticeship’ model)  towards  ‘Mode  2’,  which  places  a much greater emphasis on interdisciplinary, transferable skills and collaborations with industry as ways of preparing doctoral students for the labour market. In this context, the question is what is happening to the academic focus on equipping researchers theoretically and methodologically to think critically and independently and explore a problem they are ‘burning’ with enthusiasm to solve?


The concept of ‘mass doctoral education’ was raised in both discussions – PhD production is increasing in many countries, but are the career opportunities following? Other issues for further consideration include questions such as: Who decides what doctoral education should be about? What are the wider consequences of favouring particular ideas about doctoral education over others? What sort of person should doctoral education aim to create? Is doctoral education becoming too market-oriented, or pushed too far to produce employment-ready researchers? Is the market-driven approach to doctoral education more natural and appropriate in the context of some disciplines and less so in the context of others (sciences versus humanities)? These questions will be addressed in subsequent events of the UNIKE project.


This blog entry results from the first in a series of UNIKE workshops that was held at the Department of Education, Aarhus University in 14-18 October 2013. UNIKE – ‘Universities in the Knowledge Economy’ is a Marie Curie Initial Training Network examining the changing role of universities in the global knowledge economy in Europe and Asia-Pacific Rim. Corina Balaban is a Marie Curie Doctoral Fellow at the Department of Education, Aarhus University, Denmark. Susan Wright is a Professor of Educational Anthropology at the Department of Education, Aarhus University, Denmark.


This entry has been initially posted on Ideas on Europe blog platform.


Bologna Process (2003) Realising the European Higher Education Area. Communiqué of the Conference of Ministers responsible for Higher Education in Berlin on 19 September.

Bologna Process (2005a) Doctoral Programmes for the European Knowledge Society. Conclusions and Recommendations of the Bologna Seminar held at Salzburg, 3-5 February.

Bologna Process (2005b) The European Higher Education Area – Achieving the Goals. Communiqué of the Conference of European Ministers Responsible for Higher Education, Bergen, 19-20 May.

Council of Graduate Schools (2013) Graduate Enrollment and Degrees 2002-2012. Washington, D.C.: Council of Graduate School (CGS) September 2013. Quoted by Chronicle of Higher Education.

European Commission (2005) The European Charter for Researchers: The Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers. Brussels, Belgium: Directorate-General for Research, Human Resources and Mobility (Marie Curie Actions).

European Commission (2010) Communication from The Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and The Committee of the Regions. Europe 2020 Flagship Initiative Innovation Union. Brussels, 6.10.2010 COM(2010) 546 Final. SEC(2010) 1161.

Gibbons, Michael, Camille Limoges, Helga Nowotny, Simon Schwartzman, Peter Scott, and Martin Trow (1994) The New Production of Knowledge: The Dynamics of Science and Research in Contemporary Societies. London, GBR: SAGE Publications.

National Science Foundation (2005) Synopsis of IGERT Program.

National Science Foundation (2013) Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities, 2012; Survey of Earned Doctorate, December 2013. Table 1 and Table 12.

Building the Knowledge Economy in Europe: New Constellations in European Research and Higher Education Governance

EOK coverWhy do knowledge policies play an increasing role on the European political and policy agenda? What are the synergies and tensions between European research and higher education policies? What have been the successes and challenges in establishing the European Research Council and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology? What role do stakeholders play in the Bologna process? And how strong are the soft modes of EU governance?


These and other questions are addressed in the recently published book ‘Building the Knowledge Economy in Europe: New Constellations in European Research and Higher Education Governance’ edited by Meng-Hsuan Chou and Åse Gornitzka. Meng-Hsuan Chou tells us about the rationales for and the key messages of their book.


Q1: How did the idea for this book on the knowledge economy in Europe emerge?

This edited volume gathers contributions from our ‘Europe of Knowledge’ section at the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) general conference in Reykjavik in 2011. This was the first time that we – researchers working on knowledge policies (higher education and research) – had our own section at the ECPR. While we have successfully reconvened a ‘Europe of Knowledge’ section at every ECPR general conference since, we wanted to mark the occasion with a publication to promote the study of knowledge policies among EU scholars. At the time, Elgar came out with a new series on ‘New Horizons in European Politics’ and we thought this was a perfect opportunity to introduce the topics to an EU audience. The reason for this is because we believe these two policy sectors have much to offer to those interested in regional integration dynamics. Moreover, I thought it would be interesting to spotlight the policies that are quite important to academics, as European knowledge policies affect how we teach and carry out basic research.


Q2: The book analyses two central pillars of the ‘Europe of Knowledge’, research and higher education policies. Have the processes of European integration in these two policy areas developed similarly or differently?

European cooperation in the fields of research and higher education has followed different pathways. We describe these developments in Chapter 1, which is available here for readers, but they can be summarised in a nutshell as follow: knowledge cooperation started very early in the integration process. Research cooperation has, however, evolved much further due to the overall national sensitivity surrounding higher education issues. A key development for research policy cooperation occurred in the 1980s: the institutionalisation of the Framework Programmes, which is now synonymous with EU research policy even though this area of cooperation is more than just about funding.

Higher education entered the political and policy spotlight with the signing of the Sorbonne Declaration and the launch of the Bologna Process at the end of the 1990s. Cooperation in this area has been very practical, e.g. establishing common degree structures and transferring course units, but of course it is also political. It is important to note that Bologna, with 47 members, is not an EU process, even though the Commission is heavily involved. The knowledge policy portfolio is spread across several of the Commission’s Directorates-General (DGs) and this contributes to the complexity of the governance process. I believe it is this very complexity that makes studying European knowledge policy cooperation so interesting.


Q3: One of the chapters looks at the establishment of European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), which has to bring together research, higher education and innovation. What does the specific case of EIT tell us about the challenges for interaction among the different pillars of Europe of Knowledge?

The EIT chapter, by Åse Gornitzka and Julia Metz, tells us that creating an institution under ‘inhospitable conditions’ is possible, but it requires very powerful promoters at the very highest political level – in this case, Commission President Barroso. These ‘inhospitable conditions’ reflect precisely the governance division between research, higher education and innovation – the respective political and policy actors defended their sectoral turfs and perceived the establishment of the EIT as a ‘threat’. Barroso was able to successfully secure its establishment, but, in the end, he also did not have the EIT he initially wanted (i.e. the MIT model, university with top researchers). After the EIT was created, another set of actors came on-board and took over its daily operations. What the EIT case reveals is that the different pillars of the Europe of Knowledge may require heavy political steering to interact if new institutions were to deliver the intended outcomes.


Q4: European integration in research and higher education policies is characterised by the soft modes of governance such as the Open Method of Coordination (OMC). What are their advantages and limitations?

The OMC injects flexibility into compliance and allows different interpretation of agreed standards to co-exist. While the OMC may succeed in bringing people to the ‘mutual exchange’ table with some progress towards collective objectives, it does not generally latch on to another process to ensure continuity in some areas where progress is indeed being made. Therefore, in Åse Gornitzka’s chapter on the OMC, she argues for approaching the OMC from another perspective: what it tells us about how political and administrative institutions interact with this process and their respective experiences. She finds that, in the case of Norway, the OMC has become a ‘transmission belt’ for generating policy information as well as policy learning and ‘teaching’.


Q5: Some chapters of your book look at national responses to European integration processes in knowledge policy areas. Do you see any major national differences, for example, between Scandinavian countries and Spain?

Yes, there are major differences between countries and not just between the so-called Northern countries and those in the South. For instance, in Hanne Foss Hansen’s chapter – ‘“Quality agencies”: the development of regulating and mediating organizations in Scandinavian higher education’ – she demonstrates that, even though the Nordic countries share a tradition in how they perceive the role of higher education in society, they ultimately adopted different systems for quality assurance. In my chapter with José Real-Dato, which looks at how Norwegian and Spanish institutions approached the EU Commission-promoted Human Resource Strategy, we show that diverse national strategies and translation capacity explain variation in the speed and the extent of uptake. The domestic arena is significant in understanding how European integration in the knowledge sectors evolves, or does not.


Q6: You have worked and studied in the United States, Europe and Asia. Are knowledge policies in Europe considerably different from those in other world regions?

Yes, there are differences in terms of the emphases within debates about how knowledge should and could be used. For instance, in the US, I hear more about how knowledge could be used to advance the society’s wellbeing. The question being raised includes ‘How can we ensure equal access to high-quality education?’; this debate resonates with the phenomenon of the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) sweeping the world. In Europe, solving the ‘grand challenges’ and the role of science in policymaking are central themes. In Asia, the focus is more on how knowledge could be used to increase the national overall economic competitiveness and to secure a lead in the decades to come. But, of course, these differences are very subtle and nearly all countries in the world are concerned about all these aspects. What I find surprising is that there are less talks about the role of higher education in ‘citizen making’. Indeed, it appears as if overnight we all became global citizens, moving seamlessly around the world, which is simply not true.


Q7: What are the main messages for scholars and practitioners of knowledge policies emerging from your book?

Since European integration takes place under different conditions and parameters, its evolution continues to attract considerable interest. This is especially the case for emerging policy areas subject to integration because these developments shed new light on the direction, dynamics and, an increasingly debated aspect, the very sustainability of Europe’s political order. Knowledge policies are one of these emerging areas. For scholars, I think what is especially interesting is that European knowledge policy governance occurs through supranational, intergovernmental and transnational processes in which the EU has different roles: as a key actor, an observer or merely one of several. These multiple avenues of integration provide a unique case to explore the different facets of integration dynamics – especially for refining concepts such as ‘differentiated integration’.

For practitioners, I believe that our book provides theoretically grounded explanations as to why knowledge policies are extremely difficult to regulate. The chapters in this volume go beyond the conventional argument that ‘knowledge policies are too sensitive for the EU to regulate’. Indeed, the cases demonstrate that other factors matter; for instance, from sectoral competition in the realm of knowledge policies, and a Commission President’s vision to European higher education institutions’ diverse motivations to participate in OMC-like processes. There are general lessons to be extracted, not least for European integration, but also for other regional processes.


Q8: What would be promising research lines for future studies on regional and global governance of knowledge?  

I think the most promising research approach would be comparative. As Europeanists, we tend to study EU as n = 1 and are entirely focussed on explaining its developments and nuances. But this perspective actually harms European integration studies because we overlook the interesting developments occurring elsewhere. Pauline Ravinet and I are currently discussing the global phenomenon we call ‘higher education regionalism’ and deciphering ways in which we can begin to identify, understand, and explain the emergence of ad hoc regional higher education initiatives throughout the last few decades (and seemingly more in the making!).

Another promising approach would be interdisciplinary collaborative work. There are many researchers working on issues concerning knowledge governance, but we are scattered across many disciplines. I think this is where UACES’s (Academic Association for Contemporary European Studies) collaborative research network on the European Research Area is so useful – it really facilitates sharing ideas and findings across disciplinary boundaries.

In terms of specific topics, I think it would be fascinating to compare how different world regions address or attempt to regulate the digital revolution sweeping higher education and research. What questions are being asked? What ideas are given prominence? Is there any policy learning involved? Have we moved beyond competition? Indeed, have the world’s geographical regions been reconfigured into new constellations of alliances? If so, who governs?


Dr Meng-Hsuan Chou is Nanyang Assistant Professor in Public Policy and Global Affairs at NTU, Singapore and an Associate Fellow at EU Centre Singapore. She is the Academic Coordinator for the UACES Collaborative Research Network on the European Research Area. Hsuan chaired the Europe of Knowledge section at the 2011 and 2013 ECPR conferences and will be co-chairing the 2014 section. Her articles have appeared in the Journal of European Public Policy, Journal of Contemporary European Research and PS: Political Science & Politics. She is currently researching how governments in Asia, Europe and North America compete for foreign talent in a globalised era and how scholarly networks are organised across time.

This entry was simultaneously posted on Ideas of Europe blog platform.

10 years after the “EU Big Bang Expansion” and 15 years after Bologna: insights from the former Yugoslavia

Martina Vukasovic

It is 10 years since the largest EU enlargement wave (sometimes referred to as “EU Big Bang Expansion”) and 15 years since the formal beginning of the Bologna Process. The former Yugoslavia countries provide an interesting example of integration of the “new member states” in the Europe of Knowledge. Slovenia entered the EU in 2004 and Croatia joined last year. The other ex-YU countries are in various accession stages: Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia are candidate countries, while Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo are considered potential candidates. All have been participating in the Bologna Process (Slovenia from the beginning, Croatia as of 2001, others as of 2003), apart from Kosovo whose lack of participation is linked to its disputed statehood.

Top-down Europeanization

While there are some differences in formal positions with regards to the EU and the Bologna Process, the countries of former Yugoslavia are similar in terms of their limited influence in shaping European higher education initiatives, with Slovenia being somewhat of an exception yet seemingly not very successful or very interested in uploading particular policy preferences to the European level (Vukasovic 2014; Vukasovic and Elken 2013). What is also common is that the European dimension is very present in domestic policy making in all sectors, including higher education and the processes of EU accession and implementation of the Bologna Declaration (and subsequent documents) are very closely linked.

The latter is, at the first glance, somewhat unexpected, given that the acquis communautaire does not include any specific requirements with regards to higher education. At the second glance, one needs to recall that the EU cooperation in the area of higher education and the Bologna Process are closely intertwined (Corbett 2011; Keeling 2006) and that the lack of explicit EU competences in an area does not mean lack of domestic impact of the EU (Gornitzka 2009). In addition, as in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, in the countries of the former Yugoslavia there is a strong presence of a “return to Europe” narrative (Héritier 2005) in relation to social, political and economic transition. Many reforms were, for one reason or another, framed in relation to European initiatives, and this is in particular the case for higher education.

Apart from implementing the so-called Bologna guidelines – such as those related to the degree structure, use of a credit transfer and accumulation system, ratification of the Council of Europe Lisbon Recognition Convention or setting up a national and institutional quality assurance system in line with the European standards and guidelines (ESG) – the countries have also introduced (with varying degrees of success and support) changes that are not “covered by Bologna” but which were nevertheless part of the Bologna package of changes in legislation or other policy instruments. These include: a more integrated approach to internal governance of universities, financing of higher education (including introduction or increase of tuition fees), as well as changes in the relationship between the university and non-university sector, criteria for establishing private higher education and criteria for promotion of academic staff (Branković et al. 2014).

Interpreting and implementing European norms and values

Some of these changes, while not being explicitly part of the Bologna Process nevertheless have a European label. For example, through its Institutional Evaluation Programme the European University Association (EUA) has been effectively promoting integration of universities in the countries of former Yugoslavia. Furthermore, the EU’s TEMPUS programme, through which a total of €150 million poured in the region from 1992 to 2006 (Dolenec et al. 2014), promoted changes in some of the aforementioned aspects through setting up priorities for funded projects. However, it is not all about the “power of the purse”; such projects also provide an opportunity for mobility of students and staff and, therefore, an opportunity for persuasion of the domestic actors into desirability and appropriateness of European norms and values (see Checkel 2003 on ‘going native’ and socialization in European institutions). That of course does not mean that the attitudes towards these European norms and values are uniformly positive, though the presence of negative attitudes seems to be primarily linked to the domestic interpretations and problems in implementation and not so much to the ideological core of Bologna or related EU initiatives (Zgaga et al. 2013).

In sum, in the former Yugoslavia the European integration in higher education 10 years after the largest enlargement wave and 15 years after the Bologna Ministerial Conference has amounted to a complex combination of (a) Europeanization – a top-down process in which Europe provides a model for particular aspects of higher education, (b) cross-national policy transfer – horizontal process in which Europe provides a communication platform and (c) the so-called re-nationalization of Bologna in which the European processes are used to legitimize existing domestic policy preferences (Vukasovic 2014). With regards to its effects, the notion of differential integration and “Europe of several speeds” exists in higher education as well, as a result of institutional legacies, vested interests, domestic translations  and challenges in implementation (Westerheijden et al. 2010; Witte 2006). While both the complexity of integration and variety of its effects is evident in the so-called “old-EU” as well, the specificity of the former Yugoslav countries is the lack of the so-called “uploading-noise”: the relationship between the European and the national level in these countries is more clearly a top-down one. Whether it will remain as such remains to be seen.


Martina Vukasovic is a postdoc researcher in the Centre for Higher Education Governance Ghent (CHEGG) at the Department of Sociology, Ghent University. Her research focuses on the interaction between European, national and organizational processes, primarily the emergence of the European governance layer and how it may affect changes of policy and organization in higher education, in particular in the post-Communist countries. Until recently, she was involved in a large scale research project on European integration in higher education and research in the Western Balkans, coordinated by the University of Oslo (the Higher Education: Institutional Dynamics and Knowledge Cultures research group, HEIK).


This entry was initially posted on Europe of Knowledge blog.



  • Branković, J., Kovačević, M., Maassen, P., Stensaker, B., and Vukasovic, M. (2014). “De-Institutionalization and Reconstruction of Higher Education Systems: The case of Western Balkan countries”. City: Peter Lang: Frankfurt.
  • Checkel, J. T. (2003). “”Going native” in Europe? Theorizing social interaction in European institutions.” Comparative Political Studies, 36(1-2), 209-231.
  • Corbett, A. (2011). “Ping Pong: competing leadership for reform in EU higher education 1998–2006.” European Journal of Education, 46(1), 36-53.
  • Dolenec, D., Baketa, N., and Maassen, P. (2014). “Europeanizing higher education and research systems of the Western Balkans”, in J. Branković, M. Kovačević, P. Maassen, B. Stensaker, and M. Vukasovic, (eds.), The Re-Institutionalization of Higher Education in the Western Balkans: The Interplay Between European Ideas, Domestic Policies, and Institutional Practices. Frankfurt-am-Main: Peter Lang, pp. 61-90.
  • Gornitzka, Å. (2009). “Networking Administration in Areas of National Sensitivity – The Commission and European Higher Education”, in A. Amaral, P. Maassen, C. Musselin, and G. Neave, (eds.), The European Higher Education Area. Various Perspectives on the Complexities of a Multi-level Governance System. Dordrecht: Springer, pp. (forthcoming).
  • Héritier, A. (2005). “Europeanization Research East and West: A Comparative Assessment”, in F. Schimmelfennig and U. Sedelmeier, (eds.), The Europeanization of Central and Eastern Europe. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, pp. 199-209.
  • Keeling, R. (2006). “The Bologna Process and the Lisbon Research Agenda: the European Commission’s expanding role in higher education discourse.” European Journal of Education, 41(2), 203-223.
  • Vukasovic, M. (2014). “How can and how does Europe matter? Exploring the relationship between the European initiatives in higher education and the Western Balkans higher education in theoretical and empirical terms”, in J. Branković, M. Kovačević, P. Maassen, B. Stensaker, and M. Vukasovic, (eds.), De-Institutionalization and Reconstruction of Higher Education Systems: The case of the Western Balkan countries. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang Verlag, pp. 19-60.
  • Vukasovic, M., and Elken, M. (2013). “Higher education policy dynamics in a multi-level governance context: A comparative study of four post-communist countries”, in P. Zgaga, U. Teichler, and J. Brennan, (eds.), The globalisation challenge for European higher education. Convergence and diversity, centres and peripheries. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang Verlag, pp. 261-286.
  • Westerheijden, D. F., Beerkens, E., Cremonini, L., Huisman, J., Kehm, B., Kovač, A., Lažetić, P., McCoshan, A., Mozuraitytė, N., Souto-Otero, M., Weert, E. d., Witte, J., and Yagci, Y. (2010). The first decade of working on the European Higher Education Area. Bologna process independent assessment volume 1: Main report. CHEPS, Enschede.
  • Witte, J. (2006). Change of degrees and degrees of change: Comparing adaptations of European higher education systems in the context of the Bologna Process, University of Twente.
  • Zgaga, P., Klemenčič, M., Komljenovič, J., Miklavič, K., Repac, I., and Jakačić, V. (2013). Higher Education in the Western Balkans: Reforms, developments, trends. Center for Education Policy Studies, Ljubljana.

Market elements in universities: Potential conflict with EU competition law?

Andrea Gideon

Education and research policy have developed at the European level over recent decades. In particular the Bologna Process and the Lisbon/Europe 2020 Strategy have played a significant role.[i] If one, however, examines the actual competences to create legislation for these policy matters at EU level, one finds that these are limited. The EU has only a complementary competence for education which means that the EU essentially can only enact programmes supporting the Member States.[ii]For the policy area of research, the EU and the Member States share competences since the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon allowing the EU to pass legislation beyond the Framework Programmes/Horizon2020 in order to achieve the European Research Area.[iii] Prior to that, the EU also only had a supporting role to play and, even since, there has been no significant harmonisation of national research policies. The Member States are, therefore, still mainly responsible for research and higher education policies affecting universities. However, universities can be affected by EU law in other areas, for example, by EU competition law.

Increased competition with private sector

The Member States, potentially encouraged by developments at the EU level,[iv] have increasingly brought market elements such as fees, research for the private sector and business style management into their universities. Universities now engage in intellectual property right exploitation, set up spin-offs and conduct more applied research or research with impact thereby competing increasingly with private sector entities. Public research funding is equally increasingly distributed in a competitive fashion.[v] Also, the financial crisis has left its mark with some Member States increasing and others significantly cutting funding for universities;[vi] the latter of which requires universities even more to look for alternative income. The boundaries between the private and the public as regards universities have therefore become less clear.

These developments might have a side-effect, though. If universities become more commercial, they might fall under the more commercial provisions of EU law and, if they would breach them, this might require universities to change their behaviour. As an example, we shall look at the provisions on competition law (Article 101-109 TFEU) here.[vii] Competition law regulates the conduct of companies when competing with each other in the Internal Market. However, the entities captured by competition law, are indeed broader than just companies, as Article 101 TFEU refers to ‘undertakings’. The Court has defined such an ‘undertaking’ as ‘every entity engaged in an economic activity’.[viii] An economic activity consists of ‘offering goods or services on a market’.[ix]Therefore, if universities are offering goods or services on a market, they would equally conduct an economic activity and thus be an ‘undertaking’ at least for those activities. For example, higher education ‘sold’ for high tuition fees or contract research could amount to an economic activity. Therefore, the more commercial universities become in their activities, the likelier it gets that they are ‘undertakings’.   

Potential consequences of EU competition law for universities

If universities fall under competition law, this might create problems for them.[x] For example, if universities agree on common tuition fees or common overhead rates for research contracts, they might be seen as being engaged in price fixing, the behaviour of accreditation agencies or bodies distributing study places could potentially amount to market foreclosure or the coordination of activities along subject lines could constitute market division. All of this is behaviour prohibited by Article 101 (1) TFEU which aim it is to prevent collusions (cartels). Article 102 TFEU only applies to dominant ‘undertakings’ prohibiting them to abuse their dominance. A university would therefore have to have a certain economic strength in an area to be considered dominant.[xi]This might be possible, in particular in rarer subjects. If a university is a dominant undertaking and offers research or education for a very low price, it might be accused of predatory pricing, student number controls could be regarded as a limitation of outputs or cooperation only with certain partners to the exclusion of others could equally amount to an abuse of the university’s dominance captured by Article 102 TFEU.

Finally, Article 107 (1) prohibits state aid. Universities might get into conflict with this provisions if, in an area of economic activity, they do not charge full costs plus profit for their activities,[xii] as they could otherwise be regarded as providing or receiving state aid. If the state is ‘contracting’ universities to conduct teaching or research services, in an area of economic activity, one might even wonder if this needs to be commissioned through a public procurement procedure in which private and foreign providers could equally tender in order to avoid infringing Article 107 (1) TFEU.

Should universities come into conflict with competition law as described above, there is, of course, the possibility that they could utilise the exemptions provided in Article 101 (3) TFEU, 107 (2), (3) TFEU and secondary legislation. Furthermore, Article 106 (2) TFEU provides exemptions for services of general economic interest. It would depend on the individual case in how far universities could make use of these exemptions. If none of them applies, the universities might be required to change their behaviour or they might even be subject to fines. EU competition law effects could therefore be an ‘accidental’ consequence of the less clear boundaries between the public and the private as regards universities which universities should be aware of.[xiii]


Andrea Gideon is a research assistant for the Jean Monnet Action ‘Economic and Social Integration in the EU and Beyond – Interdisciplinary Perspectives’, Teaching Assistant and PhD Researcher at the School of Law, University of Leeds, UK.

This entry was initially posted on Europe of Knowledge blog.


  • F Amato and K Farbmann, ‘Applying EU competition law in the education sector’ (2010) 6 IJELP 7
  • DJ Beech, ‘The European Research Area: Beyond Market PoliticsEurope of Knowledge (5 October 2013) accessed 7 October 2013
  • H Connell, ‘The growing significance of the research mission to higher education institutions’ in H Connell (ed) University Research Management (OECD, Paris 2004)
  • A Corbett, ‘Education and the Lisbon Strategy’ in P Copeland and D Papadimitriou (eds), The EU’s Lisbon Strategy: evaluating success, understanding failure (Palgrave MacMillan, Basingstoke 2012)
  • S Croché, ‘Bologna Network: a new sociopolitical area in higher education’ (2009) 7 Globalisation, Societies and Education 489
  • E De Weert, ‘Organised Contradictions of Teaching and Research: Reshaping the Academic Profession’ in J Enders and E de Weert (eds), The changing face of academic life (Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke/New York 2009)
  • E Deiaco, M Holmen and M McKelvey, ‘From social institution to knowledge business’ in M McKelvey and M Holmen (eds), Learning to Compete in European Universities (Edward Elgar, Cheltenham/Northampton 2009)
  • EUA, EUA’s Public Funding Observatory (Spring 2013) (EUA, European University Association, 2013)
  • A Gideon, ‘Higher Education Institutions and EU Competition Law’ (2012) 8 Competition Law Review 169
  • Å Gornitzka, ‘Bologna in Context: a horizontal perspective on the dynamics of governance sites for a Europe of Knowledge’ (2010) 45 European Journal of Education 535
  • P Maassen and C Musselin, ‘European Integration and the Europeanisation of Higher Education’ in A Amaral et al (eds), European Integration and the Governance of Higher Education and Research (Springer, Dordrecht/London 2009)
  • Office of Fair Trading, Call for information on the undergraduate higher education sector in England (Office of Fair Trading, London 2013)
  • D Palfreyman and T Tapper, ‘Structuring Mass Higher Education ‘(Routledge, New York/London 2009)
  • JG Wissema, Towards the Third Generation University (Edward Elgar, Cheltenham/Northampton 2009)

[i] See, for example, S Croché, ‘Bologna Network: a new sociopolitical area in higher education’ (2009) 7 Globalisation, Societies and Education 489, Å Gornitzka, ‘Bologna in Context: a horizontal perspective on the dynamics of governance sites for a Europe of Knowledge’ (2010) 45 European Journal of Education 535, A Corbett, ‘Education and the Lisbon Strategy’ in P Copeland and D Papadimitriou (eds), The EU’s Lisbon Strategy: evaluating success, understanding failure (Palgrave MacMillan, Basingstoke 2012).

[ii] Articles 165-166 TFEU.

[iii] Article 4 TFEU, Article 179-190 TFEU.

[iv] The aim of the Europe2020 Strategy is, inter alia, ‘to promote knowledge partnerships and strengthen links between education, business, research and innovation […] and to promote entrepreneurship’ (Communication from the Commission ‘Europe 2020 – A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ COM(2010) 2020 final). See also the blog entry by Diana Beech ‘The European Research Area: Beyond Market Politics‘ (Europe of Knowledge 2013) 5th October 2013.

[v] See further, in these developments, for example, Connell H, ‘The growing significance of the research mission to higher education institutions’ in Connell H (ed), University Research Management (OECD 2004) p. 17 seq, 21 seq, Deiaco E, Holmen M and McKelvey M, ‘From social institution to knowledge business’ in McKelvey M and Holmen M (eds), Learning to compete in European Universities  (Edward Elgar 2009), Wissema JG, Towards the Third Generation University (Edward Elgar 2009) p. 17 seq, 34 seq, Maassen P and Musselin C, ‘European Integration and the Europeanisation of Higher Education’ in Amaral A et al (ed), European Integration and the Governance of Higher Education and Research (Springer 2009), Palfreyman D and Tapper T, ‘What is an ‘Elite’ or ‘Leading Global’ University?’ in Palfreyman D and Tapper T (eds), Structuring Mass Higher Education (Routledge 2009), De Weert E, ‘Organised Contradictions of Teaching and Research: Reshaping the Academic Profession’ in Enders J and de Weert E (eds), The changing face of academic life (Palgrave Macmillan 2009).

[vi] For an overview of reactions to the financial crisis to HEI funding see European University Association, EUA’s Public Funding Observatory (2012).  

[vii] See for a more extensive analysis Gideon A, ‘Higher Education Institutions and EU Competition Law’ 8 Competition Law Review 169.

[viii] See case C-41/90 Höfner para 21.

[ix] See case 118/85 Commission vs Italy para 7.

[x] See for a more extensive analysis with examples of national competition cases Gideon (n 7).

[xi] This is determined by market definition. See further Gideon (n 7) and Amato F and Farbmann K, ‘Applying EU competition law in the education sector’ 6 IJELP 7.

[xii] See case C-280/00 Altmark.

[xiii] The Office of Fair Trading has in fact recently opened an enquiry into the higher education sector. Office of Fair Trading, Call for information on the undergraduate higher education sector in England (Office of Fair Trading, London 2013).