European Universities and the Challenge of the Market

European Universities and the Challenge of the Market

A Comparative Analysis

Marino Regini

This major volume sheds light on the changing relationship between higher education and the economy in the major European nations. It is the outcome of extensive comparative research on higher education institutions and the economy in six European regions that were specifically chosen due to their similarities in terms of economic development: the English North West, Hesse in Germany, Rhone-Alpes in France, Lombardy in Italy, Catalunyia in Spain and the Netherlands. This unique comparative nature allows the authors to draw out the variations between regions and identify institutional differences.

Chapter 1: Redesigning Curricula: The Involvement of Economic Actors

Gabriele Ballarino

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


Gabriele Ballarino The definition of curricula – that is, deciding what to teach and how it should be taught to students – traditionally pertains to the core business of universities, and as such it is a decision taken by the university’s academic staff. However, with the large increase in university attendance, on the one hand, and the importance of the skills produced by HE systems in the context of the knowledge economy, on the other, their social and economic responsibility grows as well. Hence, the weight of external actors – particularly economic – can be expected to increase in the definition and reorganization of curricula. In fact, of the six objectives of the 1999 Bologna Declaration (signed by the competent ministers of all the five countries studied), two are immediately important from this point of view: (1) that the first level HE qualification should by itself have value for employment and (2) that a system of credits be created on the model of the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) to allow, besides mobility between institutes and countries, the formal recognition on the part of universities of skills acquired on-the-job, in a context of life-long learning. This chapter examines the involvement of economic actors in the design of the curricula in the HE systems of the six countries studied for this project. As will be seen, such involvement is by no means new, but there is evidence that it is increasing and assuming new forms. 1.1 TWO FORMS OF INVOLVEMENT In fact, the...

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