Field Coupling

Part of the Higher Education Dynamics book series (HEDY, volume 27)

In all countries where a distinction is made between a college and a university sector, the question on how the relationship between the two organisational fields should be organised and regulated has been a recurrent topic of discussion. The idea that all higher education should be organised within a unified system with a common set of rules, however, has not found general support. In Western Europe, only Spain, the UK, and Iceland have incorporated most of their higher education programmes within the framework of institutions with university status. The majority of Western European countries have chosen to uphold the separation between a university and a college sector. Still, in some countries attempts have been made to bring the sectors closer to one another.

Sweden is an often-mentioned example in this respect. In a major educational reform in 1977, the entire higher education sector, including the universities, was designated högskolan. The interface between universities and colleges became more diffuse and a number of short-cycle professional programmes, particularly teacher training and nursing, were drawn into the university system. This reform accordingly had elements of a unified system, but it has been misunderstood frequently in the international literature. Even though högskolan was introduced as a joint concept for colleges and universities, the individual institutions retained their respective titles and had differently defined missions in society. The colleges were essentially to continue as teaching establishments, while research and researcher training were to be a function of the universities. As such, it is more correct to refer to the Swedish model as a concealed binary system (Bauer 2000).


High Education High Education Institution Academic Staff High Education System Organisational Field 
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© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2009

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