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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

CFP: Transnational actors in the multi-level governance of knowledge policies (ECPR 2015)

Panel title: Transnational actors in the multi-level governance of knowledge policies

  • Chair: Tatiana Fumasoli (
  • Co-discussants: Tatiana Fumasoli ( and Åse Gornitzka


Abstract: How does academia engage at the national, European and global levels to respond to the on-going pressures for excellence and relevance? This panel examines two sets of actors at the core of knowledge production and dissemination: academics and universities. Academics are professionals with multiple affiliations and loyalties, as they are embedded in higher education institutions and discipline-based communities; they strive to protect their academic freedom and control of their teaching and research activities (Freidson 2003). Universities have become increasingly relevant actors in the higher education and research fields, since reforms granting institutional autonomy have allowed them to position themselves strategically and affect the systemic level (Fumasoli and Huisman 2013).

We conceive of the ERA and the EHEA as a multi-layered system that provides opportunities for academics and universities to engage in different arenas across levels, in order to defend and lobby for their interests. The panel’s overall objective is to shed light on how such actors influence formulation and implementation of policies in higher education and research, how they contribute in the construction of the ERA and EHEA, more in general of the Europe of Knowledge.

We thus ask three distinct sets of questions:

  1. How do academics and universities take part in policy processes at European, national, regional and institutional level? What are the factors empowering and constraining them?
  2. What are the implications for ERA and EHEA of such engagement(s) at multiple levels? How is their governance impacted? How are specific policies and instruments affected?
  3. What are the consequences for national higher education and research? To what extent academics’ and universities’ strategic agency influences systemic integration at national and European levels?

To make sense of these dynamics we invite both conceptual and empirical papers that use, among others, multi-level governance (Marks 1996, Hooghe and Marks 2001, Piattoni 2010), networking governance (Gornitzka 2009), field theory  (Fligstein and McAdam 2012), and advocacy coalition (Sabatier 1998). Some relevant topics to elaborate upon are transnational interest groups, professional and disciplinary associations, strategic alliances (Fligstein 2008).


To propose a paper for this panel please contact Tatiana Fumasoli (

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.



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CFP: Organising Scholarly Network

Organising Scholarly Networks – 18 Dec 2014, London, UK

Recent years have witnessed the publication of a succession of policy reports and the adoption of legislation on student, scholarly and researcher mobility that promotes the value-added of academic exchange. In these documents, policymakers and academic administrators argue that academic mobility fosters intellectual exchange and growth as a result of scholars being exposed to new ideas and ways of seeing the world. This is an idea that has a long history. Since the end of the nineteenth century, as new forms of technology and communication linked people across the world, academics, politicians and philanthropists, saw in scholarly mobility an opportunity for international exchange, knowledge development and the exercise of political, social and cultural power.

But the organisation and the impact of scholarly exchange programmes over time are under-researched. We do not yet have a comprehensive understanding of the development of the idea of scholarly exchange, of its long-term intellectual and policy consequences or of its multiple benefits (societal, political, intellectual and so on). While some studies on academic mobility are beginning to emerge, the literature is currently fragmented across different disciplines and national constituencies, and comparative and longitudinal studies are wanting. In the context of austerity measures across Europe, many academic exchange programmes are being cut even as the idea of intellectual exchange is being heavily promoted as the tool that will, for example, transform Europe into the innovation leader in the global economy. The wisdom of such cuts in the context of a wider purported shift to the ‘knowledge economy’ is at best unclear, and it constitutes the starting point for our exploration. This workshop aims to generate a debate informed by research about the role of scholarly exchange programmes in knowledge exchange and policy-making.

Keynote speakers:

Prof Louise Ackers (Salford University)

Dr Heike Jöns (Loughborough University)

We encourage interdisciplinary contributions from researchers at all career stages. Specifically, we welcome empirically rich papers that address the following questions: When did the idea of international scholarly exchange emerge as a pedagogic concept? What are the nature and long-term consequences of such exchange across borders? Who has benefited from such schemes, and who has been excluded from them? How have these changed over time and what is the relationship between such changes and the organisation of, and policy development associated with, formal exchange programmes?

Please send the following to before 1 August 2014

  • Paper title
  • Abstract (500 words)
  • Your name, email and contact details
  • Current institutional affiliation and position 


Workshop organisers

Dr Tamson Pietsch (Brunel University, London)

Dr Meng-Hsuan Chou (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)

Please see full call here: