The Decline of an Academic Oligarchy. The Bologna Process and ‘Humboldt’s Last Warriors’

  • Hans Pechar


The Bologna process and other higher education reforms provoked outspoken resistance from academics and students in many European countries. The protest is particularly strong in some German speaking countries. This paper deals with the distinctive features of the academic culture of these countries and argues that opposition against Bologna is mainly driven by an insistence on Humboldtian traditions. Bologna and governance reforms are interpreted as a violation of academic values from the perspective of the Humboldtian tradition. Both reforms are regarded as utilitarian approaches that threaten the cultural profile and identity of the Germanic tradition. The controversy over Bologna is not the first ‘clash of values’ of this kind. For more than a hundred years the Humboldtian guardians in the German speaking countries resist modernization of their education system. The paper traces the historical continuities of these controversies and links the debate about Bologna with the ideological discourse of the ‘German mandarins’.


Structural Reform Governance Model Student Mobility High Education Policy Governance Reform 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Science Communication and Research in Higher EducationUniversity of KlagenfurtWienAustria

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