Projects, Processes, Politics
Edited by Susan L. Robertson, Kris Olds, Roger Dale and Que Anh Dang
Chapter 3: Erasmus Mundus and the EU: intrinsic sectoral regionalism in higher education
There is a very wide range of literature that addresses the nature and impact of a range of claims to, and strategies for, the construction of a European regional form of higher education (HE). However, the intention and purpose of this chapter is not to draw attention to the heterogeneity of institutions and practices carried out in the name of HE regionalism. Instead, the approach taken in this chapter problematizes these different representations and performances of European HE, which effectively assume and construct quite different conceptions of Europe and of regions, even in such a small field as higher education. It does this by setting them against what is the most intrinsically European project in the area of HE, Erasmus Mundus (‘Erasmus’ is the European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students). Originally launched in 2004, and still in operation, Erasmus Mundus will be taken as an extreme case of regionalism. By ‘intrinsically European’, I mean not just in its purpose but also in its design, and especially the forms of governance through which it is shaped and delivered, which are irreducibly (European) regional and (HE) sectoral rather than international, or ‘cross-member’. The chapter is based on intensive research into the origins and development of the Erasmus Mundus programme, on archival research, and interviews with key figures in the programme’s development. It will seek to sketch in the wider contexts from which the programme emerged and was developed, discuss briefly some of its major features, and conclude by outlining the distinctive features of its governance and the nature of its contributions. It will be suggested that these features collectively add up to the European Commission (EC) acting as a region for itself, rather than a region in itself.
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