European Universities in Transition
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European Universities in Transition

Issues, Models and Cases

Edited by Carmelo Mazza, Paolo Quattrone and Angelo Riccaboni

This timely and important book provides a critical analysis of the changes and challenges that currently affect European universities. Using both theoretical contributions and applied case studies, leading experts argue that universities as institutions are in need of change – although the routes that the process may take are heterogeneous.
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Pasquale Gagliardi


Pasquale Gagliardi The debate on university reform has often been marred by parochialism, from diverse points of view, at least in Italy. The various actors involved – academicians, politicians, the business world, families concerned about the futures of their children – tend, perhaps inevitably, to prioritize their specific and short-term interests. Academia privileges defence of its autonomy and traditions; politicians, the consensus obtainable from emphasis on the reform of the school system as part of a government programme; firms, the services expected in terms of contribution to competitive innovation and availability of skilled personnel matching their needs; families (whose opinions are conveyed by the media), the ability of university education to ensure good jobs for their children. The problem is rarely seen as authentically ‘public’, as a matter concerning the long-term common good: it seems as if these actors find it difficult to raise their gaze and broaden their perspective. The debate is parochial in another sense as well: the arguments adduced to sustain one cause or another are generally factual, pragmatic, logical, as if great institutional transformations are not driven by ‘extralogical’, power-symbolic reasons as well (see Czarniawska, 2005, quoted by Thrift, in this volume). Even more rarely is the debate framed in an international context: in general, references to developments in other countries are random and anecdotal, and if the United States are cited it is to mythicize them, regardless of the heated debate in progress on the other side of the Atlantic (Readings, 1997). The first and...

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