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Towards the Two-cycle Degree Structure: Bologna, Reform and Path Dependency in German and Norwegian Universities


This article describes and analyses changes made in the organisation of higher education studies in Germany and Norway, following the recommendations of the Bologna Declaration. In both countries, the characteristic modes of university study have been circumscribed by the tradition of Humboldtian values and ideals, albeit to a different extent. On the basis of a cross-national and historical comparison of degree structures, implementation measures undertaken, results gained and the interpretation of various groups of actors involved in the reform process, we argue that the Bologna process has created considerable tensions within the higher education systems in the two countries. The domestication of the Bologna process in Germany and Norway testifies not only to the durability of the Humboldtian legacy, but also to the susceptibility of the Bologna process to national adaptation processes.

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  1. In fact, the Norwegian School Law of 1869 was unprecedented in Europe, as Latin was not required for entering the university.

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  3. The survey was based on a selection of faculty in a permanent position at Norwegian universities and state colleges. The sample consisted of a disproportionally stratified selection based on available scientific staff categories (professors, associated professors, assistant professors and lecturers), where the professor category was considerably overrepresented. Differences in opinions between the staff categories are negligible along all items discussed here.


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Kehm, B., Michelsen, S. & Vabø, A. Towards the Two-cycle Degree Structure: Bologna, Reform and Path Dependency in German and Norwegian Universities. High Educ Policy 23, 227–245 (2010).

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  • Bologna process
  • degree structure
  • study programme
  • higher education reform