Organizations, Regulation and Rankings
Chapter 4: Transnational Governance in Higher Education Systems: Europe and the OECD
INTRODUCTION In this chapter we examine two examples of transnational regulatory governance in higher education, both of which contain a strong intergovernmental element but which also have broadened to include wider non-governmental individuals and organizations. One refers to the process of convergence across much of Europe to create a common structure of degrees, quality assurance and qualifications through the Bologna Process that was initiated by ministers through the Sorbonne and Bologna Declarations of 1998 and 1999 respectively. The other example is an international organization – the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – and we analyse it as a key influence in promulgating authoritative ideas and blueprints for transnational university governance, and as an important gatherer and publisher of data on national comparative performances. Three particular themes are explored in both cases: the way in which transnational regulatory and other policies reflect wider ‘world society’ models of the desired characteristics for contemporary university systems; the extent to which apparent structural harmonization and convergence in higher education architectures across territorial borders mask important variations in interpretation and application at national levels; and, finally, the increasing role of the supranational level, especially that of the permanent bureaucracy of international organizations, and the use of ‘soft law’ and voluntarism rather than hard-lined compulsion, for achieving ‘steerage’ of higher educational systems. The growing influence of the permanent officials in our two cases – the European Commission and the Department of Education Secretariat at the OECD respectively – suggest the importance of managerial and ‘expert’ power, and similar...
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