Projects, Processes, Politics
Edited by Susan L. Robertson, Kris Olds, Roger Dale and Que Anh Dang
Chapter 1: Higher education, the EU and the cultural political economy of regionalism
This chapter aims to make a substantive and theoretical contribution to the understanding of the role of higher education in regional governance projects. Substantively, through an exploration of two interlinked, ongoing regional governance projects – the creation of a European Higher Education Area (EHEA) by 2010, and a European Research Area (ERA) by 2014 – we will examine the ways in which higher education is mobilized in the constructing of Europe as a globally competitive region. ‘What is new?,’ one might ask, and at one level we agree. Researchers examining the ongoing Europeanization of once determinedly national higher education institutions and sectors have described in detail the launch of the Bologna Process in 1999 aimed at reforming degree architectures and systems of credit transfer amongst European universities, and its rolling out across the European Union (EU) and beyond (cf. Huisman and van der Wende, 2004; Keeling, 2006; Ravinet, 2008). They have also shown the ways in which the 2000 Lisbon Agenda, to make Europe a competitive region and society buoyed by good jobs and social cohesion, has been advanced by the European Commission, and have reflected on the central role that universities are expected to play in this (cf. Gornitzka, 2005). Yet at another level, what is missing in these accounts is a critical account of the way in which these higher education regional projects are tied to ongoing challenges facing national states as they manage crisis tendencies in their domestic economies, Europe’s own claim to statehood, and the role that higher education regionalizing processes might play in this.