Higher education and public policy

A master-level course at the Department of Public Policy at the Central European University in the academic year 2012/2013; mandatory for specialization in Higher Education, Master in Public Policy and Public Administration; elective for Mundus MAPP (Erasmus Mundus Master in Public Policy), other streams and departments at the University.

Instructors: Jana Bacevic and Liviu Matei

Short description: This graduate-level course proposes a comprehensive induction into fundamental issues and topics in contemporary higher education policy. Higher education is seen as a particularly contested area of public policy, which has important connections with, and impact on, other fields or policy areas. Higher education policies can foster social integration and economic development, but also reproduce inequalities; help the creation of shared identities, but also contribute to societal divisions; and have as much to do with the “simple” production of knowledge as with broader political agendas, tensions and conflicts. In the contemporary mass higher education systems, more and more people spend some part of their lives within universities and other institutions of higher education. But how does it function? What are the issues surrounding it? How to think about and research higher education as a field of policy?

Using an interdisciplinary perspective, the course offers a systematic overview of the key actors, structures and dynamics in the field of higher education, aiming to address both global trends and specific policy developments in certain parts of the world (EU, Central and Eastern Europe, US, South-East Asia, Subsaharan Africa). The course combines a generic, theoretical level of analysis with relevant case studies, in order to bring the practical world of higher education policy and research closer to students. It aims to address student interests in both the domain of research and the domain of application, and thus provide grounds for a reflexive and theoretically-informed engagement in further higher education policy research, making or management.

Objectives: The course aims to equip students with knowledge and analytical skills for the understanding of the complex world of present-day higher education policy. The course is intended to represent a high-level platform to set the foundations for further, more specialized, studies in the domain of public policy. It seeks to provide an informational platform, as well as analytical and methodological skills, for the understanding of the developments and trends in higher education policy, as well as in related domains of knowledge management.

Learning outcomes: After the successful completion of the course, the students will be able to:

  • Understand and recognize the main actors and processes in international and global higher education policy
  • Understand and analyze the political dynamics shaping current higher education policies
  • Understand the impact of broader social and economic processes on higher education
  • Critically analyze and assess different higher education policies


The students are assessed according to criteria based on the combination of in-class participation, presentation, and written output. Besides regularly attending and participating in class, students are expected to have one 15-minute oral presentation per semester. At the end of the first semester, students will be producing a short (1.500 – 2.000 words) policy brief (overview and concise analysis of a chosen policy / set of policies) or a literature review. At the end of the second semester, the students are expected to produce a slightly longer (2.500 – 3.000 words) research paper, which will build on the topic chosen for the short paper. The structure of the final grade is the following: In-class participation – 25%; In-class presentation – 30% (2×15%); End of first term paper – 20%; Final essay – 25%.



Introduction. Content, working methods, requirements. Higher education policy as a field of research and practice.

Reading: no reading.


Mapping the higher education field: ideas, actors, dynamics. Session one: The development of contemporary higher education systems – from elite to mass higher education. Development of higher education in Europe and the world in a historical perspective.


Mandatory: Habermas, J. and J. Blazek. 1987. The Idea of the University: Learning Processes. New German Critique, No. 41, Special Issue on the Critiques of the Enlightenment (Spring – Summer, 1987), pp. 3-22.



Mapping the higher education field: ideas, actors, dynamics. Session two: Higher education from public to private good (and back?). Classification of higher education providers. Higher education between the market and the state. Implications for funding and governance.


Jacob, M. 2009. Out with Humboldt and in with the Knowledge Society: On the Consequences of the Redefinition of the Role of Higher Education and Research. In: Tight, M. et al. (eds): The Routledge International Handbook of Higher Education, 501-509.


Olssen, M. and M. Peters. 2005. Neoliberalism, higher education and the knowledge economy: from the free market to knowledge capitalism. Journal of Education Policy, 20: 3, 313 — 345.

Harland, T. 2009. The University, Neoliberal Reform and the Liberal Educational Ideal. In: Tight, M. et al. (eds): The Routledge International Handbook of Higher Education, 511-521.


Mapping the higher education field: ideas, actors, dynamics. Session three: globalization and internationalization. Growth of international cooperation and regulation in higher education. International mobility. The international student market. Implications of mobility and center-periphery relations. Case study: The Erasmus programs of the European Commission.


Mandatory: Paradeise, C., Bleiklie, I., Enders, J. et al. (2009). Reform Policies and Change Processes in Europe. In: Huisman, J (ed). International Perspectives on the Governance of Higher Education: Alternative Frameworks for Coordination. London: Routledge, 88-106.

King, R. 2010. Policy internationalization, national variety and governance: global models and network power in higher education states. Higher Education, Vol. 60, 583-594.


Corbett, A. 2011. Ping Pong: competing leadership for reform in EU higher education 1998–2006. European Education Journal, Vol. 46, No 1.


Mapping the higher education field: ideas, actors, dynamics. Session four: standardization and comparability. Degree systems and credits. Cycles. Learning outcomes and qualification frameworks. Implications for governance. Case study: the Bologna process and its “export” outside Europe.

Mandatory: Maguire, B.T. 2011. National Qualifications Frameworks and the European Overarching Frameworks. Journal of the European Higher Education Area, 2011.


Chao, R.Y. 2011. Reflections on the Bologna Process: the making of an Asia Pacific Higher Education Area, European Journal of Higher Education, 1:2-3, 102-118.


Mapping the higher education field: ideas, actors, dynamics. Session five: Monitoring, accountability and quality assurance. The “audit culture”. Rankings. International quality assurance networks. Case studies: international QA networks’ rankings.

Mandatory: Sarrico, C. et al, Assessing Quality and Evaluating Performance in Higher Education: Worlds Apart or Complementary Views? Minerva, Vol. 48, 35-54.

Filippakou, O. and T. Tapper. 2011. The State and the Quality Agenda: A Theoretical Approach. Higher Education Policy, 2010, 23, 475–491.


Deem, R., Ho Mok, K. and L. Lucas. 2008. Transforming Higher Education in Whose Image? Exploring the Concept of the ‘World-Class’ University in Europe and Asia. Higher Education Policy, 2008, 21, 83–97.


Key issues in contemporary higher education. Session one: the roles and purposes of higher education – higher education and the economy. “Knowledge economies” and “knowledge societies”. Higher education and the labor market. Adapting higher education to the needs of the economy. Higher education and development. Case study: The European Research Area and the European Area of Lifelong learning.

Mandatory: Maassen, P. and B. Stensaker. 2011. The knowledge triangle, European higher education policy logics and policy implications. Higher Education, Vol. 61, 757-769.

Elective: Salerno, K. 2007. Service enterprise: the market vision. In: Maassen and Olsen, eds: University Dynamics and European Integration, 123-135.


Key issues in contemporary higher education. Session two: the roles and purposes of higher education – higher education and the society. The social and public roles of higher education. Higher education and democracy. Case studies: balance of labor-market oriented and other purposes of education. Policies of the Council of Europe.

Mandatory: Walker, M. 2010. A human development and capabilities ‘prospective analysis’ of global higher education policy. Journal of Education Policy, Vol. 25, No. 4, July 2010, 485–501.


Bergan, S. and L. Weber. 2004. Public responsibility for higher education and research. Strasbourg: Council of Europe

Zgaga, P. 2009. Higher Education and Citizenship: ‘the full range of purposes’. European Educational Research Journal, 8(2), 175-188.


Key issues in contemporary higher education. Session three: governance. Who sets the higher education policy agenda? Who should have a say? University autonomy. Stakeholders. States, international organizations, policy networks, academic associations. Issues in governance.


Maassen, P. 2008. The Modernisation of European Higher Education: National Policy Dynamics. In: Amaral, A. (ed.). From Governance to Identity: A Festschrift in honor of Mary Henkel, 95-112.

Bleiklie, I. and M. Kogan. 2007. Organization and Governance of Universities. Higher Education Policy, Vol. 20, 477-493.


Enders, J. 2004. Higher education, internationalisation, and the nation-state: Recent developments and challenges to governance theory. Higher Education, 47, 361–382.


Key issues in contemporary higher education. Session four: funding. Public and private financing of higher education. Higher education as expenditure vs. higher education as investment. Different approaches to funding (lump-sum, formula, line item). Systems of student welfare.

Mandatory: Docampo, D. 2007. International Comparisons in Higher Education Funding. Higher Education in Europe, Vol. 32, No. 4, December 2007.


Vossensteyn, H. 2011. Challenges in Student Financing: State Financial Support to Students – A Worldwide Perspective. Higher Education in Europe, Vol. 34, No. 2, July 2009.

Tandberg, D. 2010. Interest Groups and Governmental Institutions: The Politics of State Funding of Public Higher Education. Educational Policy 2010 24:735.

Soerlin, S. 2007. Funding Diversity: Performance-based Funding Regimes as Drivers of Differentiation in Higher Education Systems. Higher Education Policy 20, 413-440.


Key issues in contemporary higher education. Session five: equality and social justice. Higher education and (re)distribution. Reproduction of inequalities through education. Policies for equality. Higher education and inclusion of marginalized groups. Case study: Roma and higher education in Central and Eastern Europe. Affirmative education policies in the US.

Mandatory: Brennan, J. 2002. Tranformation or Reproduction? Contradictions in the Social Role of the Contemporary University. In: Enders, J. and O. Fulton (eds.). Higher education in a globalising world: international trends and mutual observations: a festschrift in honour of Ulrich Teichler. Dordrecht: Kluwer.


Sianou-Kyrgiou, E. and I. Tsiplakides. 2011. Similar performance, but different choices: social class and higher education choice in Greece. Studies in Higher Education, Vo. 36, No. 1, 86-102.

David, M.E. 2009. Social Diversity and Democracy in Higher Education in the 21st Century: Towards a Feminist Critique. Higher Education Policy Vol. 22, 61-79.

Terzi, L. 2008. Justice and Equality in Education: A Capability Perspective on Disability and Special Education Needs. London: Continuum. Chapter 1: Introduction (1-15).

Matear, A. 2006. Barriers to equitable access: higher education policy and practice in Chile since 1990. Higher Education Policy Vol. 19, 31-49.


Mid-term re-cap / wrap-up. Main issues.


—- winter break—-



Higher education and the state. Government – university relationships. Traditional models of universities: Humboldtian, Napoleonic, Anglo-Saxon. Multiversity? Regulation and deregulation. New Public Management. Decentralization of governance.


Mandatory: Amaral, A. 2008. Transforming Higher Education. In: From Governance to Identity: A Festschrift in honor of Mary Henkel, 81-94.

Elective: Kwiek, M. 2006. The University and the State: A Study into Global Transformations, Ch. 3: The University and the Nation-State: The Impact of Global Pressures, 139-166.

King. R (ed). 2004. The University in the Global Age. Ch. 4: The university and the regulatory state.

Amaral, A. and G. Neave. 2009. On Bologna, Weasels and Creeping Competence. In: Amaral, Neave, Musselin, Maassen eds. 2009. European Integration and the Governance of Higher Education and Research. Dordrecht: Springer, 281-299.


University autonomy and academic freedom. University as a community of scholars. The unity of teaching and research. Changing conditions of the academic profession. Unions in higher education.

Mandatory: Karran, T.A. 2009. Academic Freedom in Europe: Time for a Magna Charta? Higher Education Policy, Vol. 22, 163 – 189.

Elective: Krause, K. 2009. Interpreting Changing Academic Roles and Identities in Higher Education. In : Tight, M. et al. Eds. The Routledge International Handbook of Higher Education. London: Routledge, 413-426

Majcher, A. 2008. The Battle over Professorship: Reform of Human Resource Management and Academic Careers in a Comparative Perspective. Higher Education Policy, 2008, 21, (345–358).

Gould, E. 2006. Professor or Knowledge Worker? The Politics of Defining Faculty Work. Higher Education in Europe, Vol. 31, No. 3, October 2006.



Student participation. Students as actors in higher education. Student unions and student organizing. Student movements.

Mandatory: Klemencic, M. 2012. Student representation in Western Europe: introduction to the special issue, European Journal of Higher Education, 2:1, 2-19.

Elective: Nebrensky, Z. 2011. “Early Voices of Dissent: Czechoslovakian Student Opposition at the Beginning of the 1960s”. In: Klimke, Pekelder and Scharloth, eds. 2011. Between Prague Spring and French May: Opposition and Revolt in Europe, 1960-1980. New York: Berghahn Books.

Kanzleiter, B. 2011. “Between East and West: 1968 in Yugoslavia”. In: Klimke, Pekelder and Scharloth, eds. 2011. Between Prague Spring and French May: Opposition and Revolt in Europe, 1960-1980. New York: Berghahn Books.


Higher education and social dynamics. Relationships with the society. “Third mission” of universities. Outreach. University involvement with the community.

Mandatory: Krcmarova, J. 2011. The third mission of higher education institutions: conceptual framework and application in the Czech Republic, European Journal of Higher Education, 1:4, 315-331.

Elective: Laredo, P. 2007. Revisiting the Third Mission of Universities: Toward a Renewed Categorization of University Activities? Higher Education Policy, Vol. 20, 441-456.



Higher education and social dynamics. Case study: universities in South-East Asia, Subsaharan Africa.

Mandatory: Jowi, J.O. 2008. Internationalization of Higher Education in Africa: Developments, Emerging Trends, Issues and Policy Implications. Higher Education Policy, Vol. 22, 263-281.

Elective: Lebeau, Y. 2008. Universities and social transformation in sub-Saharan Africa: Global rhetoric and local contradictions. Compare 38, no. 2, 139–53.

Mattes, D. and R. Mugogho. 2010. The Limited Impacts of Formal Education on Democratic Citizenship in Africa. CHET working papers.



Higher education and social dynamics. Case study: higher education after Communism. The changing role(s) of universities in Central and Eastern Europe.

Mandatory: Scott, P. 2009. Reflections on the Reform of Higher Education in Central and Eastern Europe. In: Tight, M. et al. eds: The Routledge International Handbook of Higher Education. London: Routledge, 269-284.


Dobbins, M. and C. Knill. 2009. Higher Education Policies in Central and Eastern

Europe: Convergence toward a Common Model? Governance, Vol. 22 No. 3, 397-430.

Zgaga, P. and K. Miklavic. 2011. Reforming higher education in transition: the Case of Slovenia. European Education, Vol. 43 No. 3, 13-45.

Kwiek, M. 2004. The Emergent European Educational Policies under Scrutiny: the Bologna Process from a Central European perspective. European Educational Research Journal, Vol. 3, No 4, 759-776.


Higher education and social dynamics. Education and identity-building. Education and conflict. Case study: the development of higher education in countries of former Yugoslavia.


Mandatory: Den Boer, N. and C. van der Borgh. (2011). “International Statebuilding and Contentious Universities in Kosovo.” Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding 5 No. 1 (2011), 67-88.


Czaplinski, M. 2006. “Conflict prevention and the issue of Higher Education in the

mother tongue: The case of the Republic of Macedonia.” Security and Human

Rights 19, no. 4 (2006), 261 ‑ 272.

Miklavic, K. 2012. Europeanisation in Action: The (re)Construction and Role of Higher Education in Post-conflict Settings. Journal of the European Higher Education Area, 2012.


Higher education and social dynamics. Higher education and “culture wars”: liberalism vs. conservatism in higher education. Higher education and disciplines. Case study: “curriculum wars” in the U.S.


Mandatory: Nussbaum, M. 2010. Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities, 1-26.


Aronowitz, S. 2000. The Knowledge Factory. Boston: Beacon Press, Ch. 1: The Knowledge Factories (i-14); Ch. 6: What is Taught, What is Learned? (125-156).

Giroux, H.A. and S. Searls Giroux. 2004. Take Back Higher Education. Introduction: Why Taking Back Higher Education Matters (1-14); Ch. 1: The Post 9/11 University and the Project of Democracy (15-52); Ch. 3: Cultural Studies and Critical Pedagogy in the Academy (89-128); Ch. 5: The Retunr of the Ivory Tower: Black Educational Exclusion in the Post-Civil Rights Era (169-216); Ch. 7: Neoliberalism Goes to College: Higher Education in the New Economy (249-286).

Lazerson, M. 2010. Higher Education and the American Dream. Ch. 5: Academic disciplines, research imperatives, and undergraduate learning (115-146).


Methods and techniques of researching higher education policies (1).

Reading: Gornitzka, A. et. Al. 2007. “Europe of knowledge”: search for a new pact. In: Maassen and Olsen eds, 2007, 179-212.



Methods and techniques of researching higher education policies (2).

Reading: Vaalimaa, J. 2008. On Comparative Research. In: From Governance to Identity…, 141-155.


Students’ choice (students decide the topic for discussion); readings to be agreed by end of semester 1.


Wrap-up, Q&A.





[1] Please note that this is the September 2012 draft, but that syllabus is prone to change slightly during the course of the academic year. Changes will be discussed in advance and announced to the students. For the latest version, it is advised to consult the e-learning site.