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The Globalisation Challenge for European Higher Education

Convergence and Diversity, Centres and Peripheries


The last decade has marked European higher education with particular dynamics. Today, after a decade of «connected» policy, national systems look much more convergent but new questions and dilemmas are emerging: about the nature and quality of higher education, about the real impact of recent reforms in different countries, and about higher education's future. The book examines the impact of Europe-wide and global developments on national higher education systems. The authors try in particular to place upfront issues of convergence and diversity, of equity and of the relationship between centres and peripheries in higher education. The book is an outcome of research collaboration between six institutes which developed a EuroHESC research proposal on the consequences of expanded and differentiated higher education systems.
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“Hullabaloo in the Groves of Academe”: The Politics of ‘Instituting’ a Market in English Higher Education


Susan L. Robertson


This chapter examines the complexities of the development of a competitive higher education market open to for-profit providers. It does this through a case study of Higher Education policies in England. A core argument is that markets do not emerge as a result of policy fiat; rather, markets must be instituted. Creating a competitive higher education market, however, directly challenges existing institutionalised interests including its rules, routines and values. To develop my case, I draw upon the work of Karl Polanyi (1992) who points out that instituting a market is a highly political process involving competing values, the exercise of authority, claims to what is legitimate, and the possibility of failure. I reflect on these developments for higher education policymaking in England, on what these developments might mean for the sector, and their implications for higher education across Europe.

Key words: higher education, universities, private for-profit actors, England, privatisation, governance, education financing

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