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Europeanisation and Higher Education

Duclaud-Williams, Roger. (2004) Europeanisation and Higher Education. In: UNSPECIFIED, Sheffield, UK.

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      [Introduction]. The signatories to the Bologna Declaration of 1999, and those states which have subsequently joined in the Bologna process, have committed themselves to the creation, by 2010, of a European higher education area. Most of the signatory states have subsequently promoted reforms which have been justified as steps taken in this direction. Superficially, at least therefore, some kind of process of Europeanisation is currently transforming previously national systems of higher education. It is the purpose of this paper to suggest that these appearances are misleading. We shall try to show that, in some cases, important reforms are in progress but that the problems which they address and the solutions which they offer are grounded in a national rather than a European analysis. In other cases we shall suggest that proposed reforms are relatively trivial and that therefore the European dimension is almost entirely absent from policy. Italy represents the first of these cases (important changes but problems and solutions which are distinctively national), and France represents the second case (a strong rhetorical commitment to the European objective which in practice requires relatively little policy change). The argument is set out in the five sections of this paper. The first section provides a very brief factual background to the Bologna process. The second section discusses the concept of Europeanisation. We need to be careful not to reject the possibility of genuine Europeanisation merely by defining the process too strictly. The purpose of this section is therefore to suggest as wide a definition of Europeanisation as possible. In this way we can make sure that nothing which might reasonably be considered as Europeanisation is neglected. In the third section of this paper we shall examine the European rationale for the various planks contained within the Bologna process as augmented by subsequent meetings and declarations. The aim here is to show that there is no persuasive European rationale for most of the measures contained within the Bologna process. Clearly, the official statements of policy which are produced at meetings which carry forward the Bologna process, are designed to provide such a European rationale. The official view is that, if a variety of national changes are co-ordinated, a much greater European good can be realised. We shall try to show that, in fact, the real benefits of these reforms, when they are substantial, are going to emerge at the national level and most often for national governments. In the fourth and fifth sections we shall examine the Italian and French cases in order to show that important changes are occurring in Italy but that the problems, and the solutions to them, are Italian and have been produced by Italian governments. By contrast, we shall argue that, in the French case, changes related to the European rhetoric are extremely limited. In addition, we shall try to show that the French government was tempted by the Italian route, namely the possibility of levering important and nationally required changes through resort to a European rationale, but that this attempt was rapidly abandoned in favour of a much more cautious approach.

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      Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
      Subjects for non-EU documents: EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > europeanisation/europeanization & European identity
      Countries > Italy
      EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > education policy/vocational training
      Countries > France
      Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
      EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
      EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
      Conference: University of Sheffield, Department of Politics > ESRC/UACES Series of Seminars on EBPP > 2004-04-23 Seminar on EBPP
      Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
      Official EU Document: No
      Language: English
      Date Deposited: 03 Jun 2004
      Page Range: p. 19
      Last Modified: 15 Feb 2011 17:19

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