Knowledge, Diversity and Performance in European Higher Education

Knowledge, Diversity and Performance in European Higher Education

A Changing Landscape

Edited by Andrea Bonaccorsi

For the first time, data on individual European higher education institutions (rather than data aggregated at the country level) is used in order to examine a wide range of issues that are both theoretically challenging and relevant from policy-making and societal perspectives. The contributors integrate statistics on universities and colleges with other sources of information such as patents, start-up firms and bibliometric data, and employ rigorous empirical methods to address a range of key questions, including: what is the role of non-university tertiary education, such as vocational training? How important is the private sector? Are European universities internationalized? Are they efficient from the point of view of costs and educational output? Are there pure research universities in Europe? How do universities contribute to economic growth?

Chapter 2: Is there a European university model? New evidence on national path dependence and structural convergence

Torben Schubert, Andrea Bonaccorsi, Tasso Brandt, Daniela De Filippo, Benedetto Lepori and Andreas Niederl

Subjects: business and management, management and universities, economics and finance, economics of education, economics of innovation, education, economics of education, management and universities, innovation and technology, economics of innovation


The issue of diversity and differentiation in higher education has been repeatedly debated in the literature (Meek et al., 1996; Huisman et al., 2007). Based on a large dataset that contains the full census of European higher education institutions, this chapter offers a fresh perspective on the debate using a quantitative approach, allowing a dedicatedly empirical assessment of diversity and differentiation in higher education institutions. For our analysis we use model-based clustering techniques in order to determine the main activity profiles of higher education institutions in Europe. Our main findings suggest that there is a functional divide into higher education institutions (HEIs) in which research and teaching coexist and younger (usually small) education-only organizations. From this perspective, looking at the observable behaviour rather than at the governance structures, the European higher education system seems much less fragmented than often argued. A further important result is that we do not find any empirical support for the existence of other commonly applied and seemingly intuitive classifications, such as the research university. Despite some basic similarities in the European HEI landscape, however, we also find national differences and diversity.

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