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What really happens in higher education governance? Trajectories of adopted policy instruments in higher education over time in 16 European countries

Abstract

Over the past three decades, governments have recurrently intervened in higher education. Over time, significant changes have occurred in inherited national governance modes. These reforms have been assessed in different ways, such as by emphasising the shift to the more supervisory role of the State, or the increasing privatisation and marketisation following the neoliberal paradigm, or the overall process of re-regulation. This paper sheds light on these different judgements by addressing the governance shift by focusing on the sequences of policy instrument mixes adopted over time in 16 European countries. By analysing 25 years of policy developments, it is shown how the content of national governance reforms consistently varied over time and that no common template has been followed.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The most recent large n-study comparison of reforms in higher education considered 10 countries (Broucker et al. 2017).

  2. 2.

    Research evaluation, quality assurance in teaching, performance, target funding and contracts are evaluative instrumental shapes that governments have adopted to make autonomous universities more accountable.

  3. 3.

    In addition, the list of regulations provided by every country expert (who is one of the most reputed scholars on HE policy in that particular country) was subsequently verified by the authors on the basis of an extensive secondary literature: OECD reports, scientific articles and books, etc.

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Correspondence to Giliberto Capano.

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Professor Giliberto Capano received funding from the Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR), project PRIN 2015.

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Capano, G., Pritoni, A. What really happens in higher education governance? Trajectories of adopted policy instruments in higher education over time in 16 European countries. High Educ 80, 989–1010 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-020-00529-y

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Keywords

  • Trajectories of policy design
  • Policy change
  • Policy sequence
  • Instruments
  • Governance