Learning to Compete in European Universities
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Learning to Compete in European Universities

From Social Institution to Knowledge Business

Edited by Maureen McKelvey and Magnus Holmén

This book addresses the critical issue of how and why European universities are changing and learning to compete. Anglo-Saxon universities particularly in the US, the UK and Australia have long been subject to, and responded to, market-based competition in higher education. The authors argue that Continental and Nordic universities and higher education institutes are now facing similar pressures that are leading to a structural transformation of the university sector.
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Chapter 12: What Does it Mean Conceptually that Universities Compete?

Enrico Deiaco, Magnus Holmén and Maureen McKelvey


Enrico Deiaco, Magnus Holmén and Maureen McKelvey 1. INTRODUCTION This book addresses the issue of how and why European universities are learning to compete, in a situation where the national institutional context and sectoral conditions are undergoing transformation. This view is quite a long way from traditional views of the nature of academia. Academics are to some extent localized to the specific university that pays their wages, and yet they also share a world of beliefs, value and experiences with academics located around the world. Robert Merton (1973) articulated a world in which scientists evaluated knowledge based on an ethos of universalism, organized scepticism, disinterestedness, and communism.1 In Merton’s writings, communism refers to the community, and hence that scientists openly share their work with their community for the common good. The Humboltian ideal of the university from Germany was very influential for the ‘research universities’ and similarly defines a particular type of mission to society and way of organizing. This view projected a university based on three formative principles: unity of research and teaching, freedom of teaching, and academic self-governance (Shils, 1997). However, as outlined in Chapter 1 and as detailed in subsequent chapters, the contemporary environment of researchers, teachers and students seems to be moving far from these ideals. One can see that these new competitive regimes for national universities within Europe are related to factors such as: (a) Increasing globalization of students, resources and faculty; (b) Changes in national public policy for education, science...

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