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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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  • 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.

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:

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).

European initiatives in higher education – why should one care?

Martina Vukasovic

To paraphrase one of my colleagues: for all intents and purposes European integration in higher education should not exist. This is not a normative position, but rather an observation of what seems to be somewhat of a puzzle: the European Union has very limited formal competences with regards to education in general, or higher education in particular, but there nevertheless are several European initiatives in higher education that have emerged in the recent (and not so recent) years, like the Bologna Process or the Lisbon Strategy and its successor the Europe 2020 Strategy, that seem to have had significant impact on higher education systems and institutions.

Essentially, there are three dimensions to this phenomenon: (1) new initiatives (or a new governance layer, if you will) forming at the European level, (2) these initiatives having an impact on higher education in countries that are EU members or in some other ways are considered to be part of “Europe” and (3) European initiatives having an impact on developments well outside Europe (e.g. Latin America, US, or Asia-Pacific region). I will briefly discuss each of these dimensions, to provide the basis for the claim that studying the European governance layer in higher education in more detail can contribute not only to better understanding of higher education dynamics but also to better understanding of the dynamics of European integration, its causes and consequences.


Emergence of the European governance layer in higher education

Origins of the European governance layer in higher education were traced by Anne Corbett back to the early ages of the European Union; a number of key policy entrepreneurs and events that lead to what eventually became the Erasmus programme have been identified (Corbett 2005), which in turn lead to the question whether the Bologna Process is as novel as many claim it is (Corbett 2006). Furthermore, an issue of research interest is also how what essentially started as a voluntary process with an unclear governance structure grew into monitored coordination and a consolidated governance arrangement (Ravinet 2008), as well as what are the linkages between the pan-European Bologna Process and the EU Lisbon Strategy (Gornitzka 2010; Keeling 2006). In addition, the focus has also been on the strengthening of the European Commission position in the Bologna follow-up structures (despite initial attempts to exclude it) which adds a supranational element to an otherwise primarily intergovernmental arrangement (Corbett 2011) as well as on the increasing involvement of European stakeholder organizations, such as the European University Association EUA, European Students’ Union ESU, Education International EI, European Association of Institutions in Higher Education EURASHE, whose presence adds a transnational flavour (Elken and Vukasovic forthcoming).

Essentially, what can be observed is the emergence of a Europe of Knowledge based on two main pillars – Lisbon (and its successor Europe 2020) and Bologna – the first firmly grounded in the EU institutions and perhaps more focused on research (in which EU has more significant competences than in higher education), and the other having a more pan-European focus and focusing primarily on higher education (Elken et al. 2011; Maassen and Musselin 2009). Such complex governance arrangement, in which supranational, intergovernmental and transnational dynamics overlap and interact is by no means unique to higher education, given that within the EU, regardless of the sector in focus, similar complexity can be observed (Börzel 2010).

What is distinctive is the existence of both EU and pan-European elements in the European governance layer and how they interact. So far, this interaction served primarily to consolidate and legitimize both processes, but with the further enlargement of the EU (even if only in terms of awarding candidate status to more countries) and the somewhat slowed down tempo of the Bologna Process (ministerial summits now taking place every three instead of two years) it will be interesting to see whether the interaction will lead to fading out of the Bologna element of the European governance layer in higher education or those involved in the process (who also may have some vested interests in keeping it alive) will find a way to re-invent it.

Furthermore, European integration in higher education (and research) is of importance for other sectors as well, given that higher education is being exported as a policy solution to sectors such as social policy, economic competitiveness, environment and security, i.e. higher education is expected to provide solutions to problems identified in other policy sectors. So it could be argued that European integration efforts in these sectors, many of which are at the core of the EU project, will be shaped also by how integration in the area of higher education proceeds in the long run.


Impact on higher education systems and institutions within Europe

The second dimension concerns the impact the emerging European governance layer in higher education has on higher education systems and institutions, or what can be labelled as Europeanization (though see Olsen (2002) for a discussion on different uses of the term). The focus so far has been on convergence of governance approaches or legal frameworks (Amaral et al. 2012; Voegtle et al. 2011), implementation of the Bologna Process (Hoffman et al. 2008; Moscati 2009), the relationship to national policy reforms (Gornitzka 2006; Musselin 2009),  the mechanisms and scope of change in the context of Bologna (Capano and Piattoni 2011; Witte 2006) or the effects of particular elements of European initiatives, e.g.  the  Erasmus  programme (Beerkens and Vossensteyn 2011), the EU Framework Programmes for research (Primeri and Reale 2012), the European Standards and Guidelines for quality assurance in higher education (Stensaker et al. 2010) or the European Scientific Visa and the Blue Card (Cerna and Chou 2013).

Similar to Europeanization in other sectors (see e.g. Cowles et al. 2001; Falkner and Treib 2008), the impact of the European governance layer on higher education systems and institutions is notable, though it varies across countries and issues (EACEA 2012; Westerheijden et al. 2010). This variety is partly related to the characteristics of the European governance layer as such (see below) but also to the differences in the domestic contexts, primarily in terms path-dependencies when it comes to policy formation and implementation (what Falkner and Treib call “worlds of compliance”). Thus, it would be interesting to explore whether the changes primarily amount to what Vaira (2004) has labelled to be an allomorphism – convergence on the surface, diversity underneath. Furthermore, even if there is significant diversity underneath, that does not necessarily imply a weak impact of the European governance layer, but rather points to the ambiguity of some of its preferences (e.g. the social dimension highlighted in the Bologna Process) and the consequent diversity in domestic interpretations both in the process of policy formation and in the process of policy implementation.

As a knowledge intensive sector, higher education is marked by several types of autonomy – universities from the state, constituent departments in relation to their universities, professional autonomy of members of academic staff in relation to their institutions – leading to complex organizational arrangements which provide ample opportunities for translation, use and abuse of the preferences promoted in European initiatives in higher education. Moreover, the European governance layer is not the only source of external influence on higher education policy (and by extension higher education institutions). There are also more diffuse yet not necessarily less powerful global scripts (Meyer 2000) which interact in various ways with the European governance layer and with the domestic contexts.

Here lies another potential contribution of research on higher education to European studies. As Gornitzka and Maassen (2011) demonstrate with a study on autonomy and funding reforms in Denmark, Finland and Norway, even amongst the systems which can be seen to belong to the same “world of compliance”, i.e. even amongst the systems in which significant convergence can be expected, there can be differences in how the same global scripts and European preferences are interpreted and implemented. Thus, studying the different interactions between the global, European, national and local in higher education may be a fruitful exercise for understanding better the key characteristics of each of these layers of governance, and the scope of change that may come as a result of their interaction.


Impact beyond Europe

The relationship between the global scripts and the European preferences provides a good entry point to the discussion of the third dimension of interest – the impact the developments in Europe have on other areas of the world, or how European preferences may become global scripts. This is perhaps the dimension that has been least studied so far. There is some evidence of this impact in higher education, judging by the focus on the external dimension of the Bologna Process (Zgaga 2011) and the establishment of the Bologna Policy Forum taking place in parallel to the Bologna Ministerial Summit, which in 2012 in Bucharest was attended by 23 non-European countries.

Furthermore, there is evidence that the European experience has been an inspiration for other regions of the world. Chinese higher education master plan for 2020 focuses on degree structures, while 52 countries from the Asia-Pacific region in 2006 adopted the Brisbane Communiqué and developed a follow-up governance structure similar to that of Bologna. The experiences from the so-called Tuning project have been exported to Latin America, the US, Russia and Africa with active (financial) support from the European Commission though with different outcomes (in Latin America it seems not to have taken off completely) and the US has increased recognition of the three year bachelor degrees in order to facilitate mobility from Europe to the US (Westerheijden et al. 2010). While the underlying mechanisms of such developments have not been identified in sufficient detail and while there is little data on how these initiatives develop over time, a good starting point could be to analyse whether such developments can be interpreted primarily as the voluntary lesson-drawing by the countries and regions outside of Europe because of Europe’s normative power (Birchfield 2013; Hyde-Price 2006; Manners 2002; Scheipers and Sicurelli 2007) or whether Europe actually plays an active role in these processes for strategic reasons.

In sum, it appears that research on higher education dynamics, either within Europe or beyond, is less and less possible without taking into account multi-level and multi-actor governance arrangements of which the European governance layer is a significant part of. Moreover, research on “all things European” could benefit from focusing more on an area which may be seen as less likely case of European integration and Europeanization, but in which significant developments involving the European governance layer nevertheless abound.


Martina Vukasovic is currently working within the Odysseus project on higher education governance at the Department of Sociology, Ghent University, Belgium. Until November 2013 she was a member of the Higher Education: Institutional Dynamics and Knowledge Cultures Research Group at the Department of Education, University of Oslo, Norway. Her PhD thesis, recently submitted for evaluation, focuses on higher education change in the several countries of the former Yugoslavia and the role the European initiatives have had in these processes.


This entry was initially posted on Europe of Knowledge blog.



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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.

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CFP: ECPR section on ‘The Europe of Knowledge’ (3-6 September 2014, Glasgow)

The year 2014 is significant for the Europe of Knowledge, marking the long-anticipated delivery and renewal of Europe’s ambition to become the global knowledge leader. Indeed, it is the deadline set for completing the European Research Area (ERA), as well as the official start of Horizon 2020, the main European Union (EU) funding instrument for pure and applied research. Against this backdrop, the third Europe of Knowledge section invites contributions to go beyond the ‘crisis mode’ that has occupied EU studies in recent years and to critically reflect on the evolution of European knowledge cooperation and governance. Specifically, we are interested in theoretical, empirical and comparative contributions that investigate the role of the ‘four I’s’ – ideas, interests, instruments and institutions – in the construction of the Europe of Knowledge. By ‘role’, we refer to the effects that an idea, an actor (individual or organisational), a policy instrument and an institution have on the ‘knowledge area building’ exercise. Our focus on ‘roles’ is to enable a multidisciplinary discussion on whether these factors share defining characteristics across the different knowledge policy domains (i.e. research and higher education). From a research design perspective, this entails conceptualising the ‘four I’s’ as either independent or intervening variables. Individual panels are encouraged to have a mix of papers reflecting the three thematic sectors of this section: higher education, research and science. This section continues to welcome all scholars, theoretical and methodological approaches (e.g. political science, European and EU studies, higher education studies, science and technology studies, international relations and public policy), to critically discuss the reconfiguration of European knowledge systems.

The following panels are issuing calls for papers, please send the following information to the designated contacts before 19 January 2014:

–       Full name

–       University/Institution

–       Postal Address

–       Email Address

–       The name of any co-authors

–       The title of the paper

–       Keyword(s)

–       Research discipline

–       A 250-word abstract


The ‘big’ ideas in the Europe of Knowledge

Chair/discussant: Meng-Hsuan Chou (NTU, Singapore)

As Europe enters another phase in its knowledge cooperation with the launch of Horizon 2020, this panel takes a reflective approach and focuses on the role of ideas in these developments. Ideas are pervasive in all aspects of public policymaking at both the national and European levels. They act as deeply entrenched paradigmatic beliefs concerning how things should and ought to be done, as well as specific policy blueprints for resolving particular policy problems. Articulated through discourse, ideas, championed by ‘amplifiers’, may chart the pathways of integration in unexpected ways. This panel invites contributions that explore the role that ideas play in European research and higher education policy cooperation. By ‘role’, we refer to the independent or intervening effects that an idea – such as the ‘fifth freedom’, competitiveness, excellence, talent, internationalisation, ‘digital revolution’, ‘Single Market of Knowledge’ and so on – have had on constructing the Europe of Knowledge. Papers in this panel are invited to address any of these questions: What are the prominent ideas in the European Research Area and the European Higher Education Area and how have they determined the evolution of the Europe of Knowledge? Are there visible European and national champions of certain ideas and what strategies do they apply to promote them? Also, to what extent have these ideational champions collaborated with one another or do they work in isolation? How have ideas been translated into European and domestic research and higher education policies? Could we identify a consistent discourse or policy frame associated with these ideas? Similarly, could we detect an emergent actor constellation opposing the promoted ideas? And, if so, what are the alternative discourses or policy frames and to what extent have they been successful? To address these questions, we welcome comparative, theoretical and empirical approaches using documentary, survey or interview data.

Send paper abstracts to: Meng-Hsuan Chou (, deadline 19 January 2014


Opening the ‘black-box’ of political actors in the Europe of Knowledge

Chair/discussant: Dragan Mihajlovic (BIGSSS, Germany)

Actors promote ideas and interests, and finally adopt policies in the Europe of Knowledge, but actor constellations shaping and emerging due to the overlapping boundaries of education and research remain very much a ‘black-box’. This panel invites papers to examine the role of politics and actors in the Europe of Knowledge. Potential contributions could address the following: Is there a dominant set of actors who are the driving force in the process of creating the Europe of Knowledge? Who are these actors on an individual or organisational level, what politics do they represent, and how do they reconcile the overlapping boundaries between education and research? Are they moving between the European Research Area and the European Higher Education Area? If so, are EU knowledge policies more coherent as a result of these actors’ stable interests? Or are these policies lacking coherence because these actors’ interests are in flux due to struggles in different fields? To what extent do the outcomes reflect these tensions? From another angle, contributions could also investigate: how are party politics, coalitions, political cleavages, social forces, and/or actor networks affecting policy? How do political changes over time within the member states impact EU policy formation? Papers might also take a more methodological approach: Is the world of policy making in the Europe of Knowledge virtually unknowable? How can we reveal these hidden processes? Are there prevailing ideas, interests, instruments and institutions (4Is) that political actors represent or stand for? How can we identify them and make them analytically operational?

Send paper abstracts to: Dragan Mihajlovic (, deadline 19 January 2014


Converging modes of governance in the Europe of Knowledge (I): academic-oriented science

Chair/discussant: Dagmar Simon/Tim Flink (WZB, Germany)

Over the last decades, the academic-oriented science system has seen far-reaching changes triggered by other domains of society, in particular the state and business. Science is regarded as a major factor stimulating both economic innovation and for substantiating political decision-making. Researchers increasingly engage in consulting activities and collaborate with the private sector on a regular basis, allowing industry to turn ideas from the laboratory into marketable products. Hardly any policy field in modern welfare-state democracies does not rely on scientific expertise. Facing these changing demands and expectations from its institutional environment, the academic landscape has undergone such immense changes that political science should not blank out. Altogether, one can state that more than ever academic-oriented research seems to stand at the crossroads of either becoming increasingly defined by political and commercial interests or remaining autonomous in its operations, given that core scientific institutions are facing tremendous reorganization, with strategic concepts, governance modes and partnerships changing, and with new actors and actors’ constellations suddenly rising up. While increasing scepticism towards the self-regulatory capacities of science calling for more effective modes of evaluation (including peer reviewing, institutional and systemic evaluations) can be observed, there are also trends of resurrecting the legitimacy of fundamental science, borne by new (and discursive) categories of vertical and horizontal differentiation, e.g. frontier research and excellence. Will academic research, political and commercial interests become increasingly inseparable or will researchers reject or strategically cope with such demands and, thereby, even strengthen their academic and disciplinary identities? To elaborate on the interrelatedness of academic-oriented science vis-à-vis state and business interests, we invite scholars to present theoretical concepts, case studies and comparative research from different fields, such as science and technology studies, policy analysis and science policy studies, evaluation research, administrative science and global/transnational governance studies.

Send paper abstracts to: Tim Flink (, deadline 19 January 2014


Converging modes of governance in the Europe of Knowledge (II): regulatory science

Chair/discussant: Rebecca-Lea Korinek/Holger Straßheim (WZB, Germany)

Regulatory science shows contradictions seemingly pertaining to the transforming of the science-policy nexus in total: the political interest in science to solve collective problems has never been higher, e.g. under the heading of evidence-based policy. However, while political and administrative actors in these areas insist on the scientific basis of regulation, regulatory science has lost credibility. Moreover, the dichotomy between academic-oriented and regulatory science has been contested, calling for more complex concepts of the science-policy-politics-nexus, its governance modes and cultural embeddedness. In discussing regulatory science vis-à-vis the state, business and society, this panel systematically links up to the second panel concerning academic-oriented science.

Send paper abstracts to: Tim Flink (, deadline 19 January 2014


Comparative higher education regionalism

Chair/discussant: Marie-Luce Paris (UCD, Ireland)/Pauline Ravinet (Lille, France)

Higher education is often considered the next frontier in the ‘knowledge economy’ race to attract, train and retain the ‘best-and-brightest’. Throughout the last two decades, we see a multiplication of regional initiatives pre-dating or attempting to replicate the success of the Bologna Process. This panel invites papers to reflect on the uniqueness of the European experience as a part of the wider global phenomenon known as ‘higher education regionalism’.

Send paper abstracts to: Pauline Ravinet (, deadline 19 January 2014


Instruments for attracting talent to the Europe of Knowledge

Chair/discussant: Lucie Cerna (OECD)

Attracting talent – students, researchers, entrepreneurs, professionals and scientists – remains a cornerstone for the Europe of Knowledge and this panel invites papers to examine the adopted instruments for this purpose. Policy instruments in the knowledge domain come in a variety of forms. They may be, inter alia, ‘hard’ (i.e. directives, regulations), ‘soft’ (standards), ‘distributive’ (framework programmes, now Horizon 2020), or even ‘networked’. Put simply, the instruments for consolidating the European Research Area (ERA) and the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) – the two central pillars making up the Europe of Knowledge – can be considered to be a veritable ‘policy mix’. This panel invites contributions that explore the role of instruments for attracting talent to the Europe of Knowledge. We are interested in papers that identify the explanatory or intervening effect that policy design and implementation have had on knowledge policy integration in Europe. Papers can address developments at the EU-level or the implementation or translation of EU instruments in domestic arenas. We welcome analyses of knowledge policy instruments in these areas: scientific mobility (e.g. knowledge networks; talent migration; scientific visa); funding; qualifications framework and so on. Papers can address any of these questions: How are these instruments developed, by whom, according to what models and with what political aims? What are the effects of policy implementation? To what extent has Europe succeeded in meeting its targets? In order to better assess developments in and outside of Europe, we also welcome a comparative approach: To what extent can we speak of EU/European approaches? Can we find similarities between EU instruments and those that have been adopted elsewhere in the world or in other regions (Asia, Latin America, Africa and so on)?

Send paper abstracts to: Lucie Cerna (, deadline 19 January 2014


Instruments for research funding in the Europe of Knowledge

Chair/discussant: Mitchell Young (Charles University, Czech Republic)

Research funding instruments play a crucial role in shaping what is researched, where, and by whom. While the vast majority of research funding is controlled by national governments, the EU nevertheless has actively sought to shape the overall environment. This panel is interested in contributions that explore the effects that funding instruments have in constructing the Europe of Knowledge as well as the multi-level interaction between national and European instruments. Policy instruments come in a variety of forms. They may be, inter alia, ‘hard’ (i.e. directives, regulations), ‘soft’ (standards, Europe 2020 objectives), ‘distributive’ (framework programmes, now Horizon 2020), or even ‘networked’. We welcome analyses of any policy instruments that have shaped and are shaping research funding in Europe. This includes the broad distributive frameworks programmes, but also the specific instruments which are found under this umbrella (ERC, Societal Challenges, Marie Curie, EIT) as well as instruments related to mobility, spending levels, industrial competitiveness etc. We are especially interested in papers that identify the explanatory or intervening effect that policy design and implementation have had on knowledge policy integration in Europe, particularly those national instruments that incentivise applications to EU funding programmes. Papers can focus on developments at the EU-level or the implementation or translation of EU instruments in domestic arenas. Papers can address any of these questions: How are the instruments developed, by whom, according to what models and with what political aims? Are the national and EU instruments competing or complementing? Is there evidence to suggest that national or EU instruments are steering European research or higher education governance? Or are the pressures external to the integration process (‘internationalisation’)? What are the effects of policy implementation? To what extent has Europe succeeded in meeting its targets?

Send paper abstracts to: Mitchell Young (, deadline 19 January 2014