One of the intrinsic tensions in the BP from the outset has been between the intention to open up and facilitate exchanges, on the one hand, and on the other, the ambition to strengthen the EU, which involves drawing up barriers against the 'outside'. The BP has a particular relationship to the EU inasmuch as it is intended to strengthen the European area, in terms of knowledge and economic competitiveness (REFs). Yet at the same time, the BP is open to members outside the EU (Silova, 2011; Soltys, 2015a). The modality of implementation has also been extensively discussed (Fejes, 2008; Dale & Robertson, 2009; Feeney & Horan, 2015), as it is something countries opt into voluntarily, moving forward in their own pace (Veiga, Magalhâes, & Amaral, 2015). For many years, the EU and the BP have has witnessed a period of expansion, where the gradually increasing weight of countries participating in the process has contributed to making the BP an attractive option, thereby increasing the momentum of the process. Recently, however, we have been witnessing a period of economic crisis (Sursock, 2015) and questioning the EU as a project, most dramatically manifested by the Brexit. Implications for HE, mobility and the BP are not yet well understood, but it is to be expected that effects may be considerable.
Among the factors that have been placing pressure on the system is the decline in public funding of HE, coupled to the expectation to cover this decrease by attracting foreign paying students, as in the UK (cf. Dennis, 2016). The call for internationalization clashes with other effects of the economic crisis, notably the closing of borders generally, and increasing difficulties in obtaining student or other visas. Many of the important background conditions that allowed the rapid development of the BP and which might promote its expansion to areas outside Europe thus seem to have changed. What then do the motivations for engaging in the BP look like today, and how do these compare to current expectations of the EU?
This study looks at some of the central concerns and ambitions expressed from within the EU; and how these compare with concerns and ambitions of countries outside the EU. An analysis is made of both convergences and divergences between the different perspectives. While the BP discourse emphasizes freedom and voluntary aspects (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice (2015), the process also involves constraints. A major risk which has been discussed is standardization (Fejes, 2008; Wihlborg and Teelken 2014), which contrasts with the desire to stimulate innovative, diversified and dynamic HE. The tendency towards standardisation is directly connected to regulating and monitoring compliance with certain criteria, but also a consequence of how 'equivalence' is conceptualised, in the context of putting together curricula across institutional contexts (regime of commensurability). Notions such as freedom and constraint are not simply a function of characteristics in a particular set of instruments, such as the BP, but are also connected to positionality, dependency and relations of power on the global arena. The final theoretical lens, with references to applied in this study is drawn from the wider discussion on the development of HE away from being part of nation-building projects, to assuming characteristics of transnational activities (Morrow & Torres, 2000; Hartman, 2008; Dale & Robertson, 2009; Voegtle, 2014).
Abdiraiymova et al (2013). Reforming of System of the Higher Education in Kazakhstan. Social & Behavioral Sciences... Dale & Robertson (2009). Globalisation and Europeanisation in Education. EUA, 2013. Internationalisation in European HE: European policies, institutional strategies and EUA support… European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice (2015). The European HE Area in 2015: Bologna Process Implementation Report… Feeney & Horan (2015). In J. Hogan & M. Howlett (Eds.). Policy Paradigms in Theory and Practice: Discourses, Ideas and Anomalies… Hartman (2011). The Internat of HE – Towards a new research agenda in critical higher education studies.. Dennis (2016). Why and where you should recruit international students. Enrollment Management Report.. Fejes (2008). Standardising Europe: The Bologna Process and new modes of governing. Learning and Teaching.. Fomichova et al (2014). ‘Back to the Future’in a Ukrainian Manner: examining the impact of the contradictory 2001 and 2010 education reforms on Ukrainian schools and science subjects... Hartmann (2008). Bologna goes global: a new imperialism in the making? Globalisation, Societies & Edu... Hyatt (2013).The Critical HE Policy Discourse Analysis Framework. In J. Huisman &M. Tight/Theory and Method in HE Research (International Perspectives on HE Research)… Janczyk-Strzala & Tomaszewski (2013). Aspects of internat of HE institutions in Poland. PRADEC Conference Proceedings... Jiang (2008). Towards the internationalization of higher education from a critical perspective.. Lucin & Samarzija (2011). The Bologna Process as a Reform Initiative in HE in Croatia. European Education... Morrow & Torres (2000). The State, Globalization, and Educational Policy... Piven & Paki (2006). HE in Kazakhstan and the Bologna Process. Russian Edu & Society.... Soltys (2015a). Similarities, divergence, and incapacity in the BP reform implementation by the former-socialist countries: the self-defeat of state regulations.. Soltys, D. (2015b). Constructing quality education through quality citizenship: challenges for Ukraine between post-Soviet and Bologna process bureaucratic elitism.. Stromquist (2002). Education in a globalized world: The connectivity of economic power, technology, and knowledge… Sursock & Smidt (2010). Trends 2010: A decade of change in European HE…EUA. Sursock (2015). Trends 2015: Learning and Teaching in European Universities. EUA
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