France: Initiatives for Excellence

Emmanuel Boudard, Donald F. Westerheijden

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic

12 Citations (Scopus)


France’s higher education institutions hardly appeared in the first global university ranking, the 2003 Shanghai Ranking. This ‘Shanghai shock’, a term apparently coined by Dobbins (2012), was a prime occasion for the reforms in this case study, as it came at a time when the Bologna Process was already leading to changes. The aim of the chapter is to study the structural reforms in France with relevant conclusions regarding their design, implementation and evaluation, from the point of view of changing principles of governance: why and how did actors adopt new principles of action? France may have been a prime example of a state applying the rule of law ever since the republic stabilised on the principle of égalité, that is, at least since the establishment of the Fifth Republic in 1959 and in some sense as far back as the 1789 Révolution. In the area of higher education, Neave (1994, 1995) applied the term of ‘legal homogeneity’ to the higher education policies in many European countries, France definitely included among them, that characterised the welfare state: equal treatment of all higher education institutions each in their own legally defined classes of universities, grandes écoles, etc., mitigating or even denying differences in qualities among them.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPolicy Analysis of Structural Reforms in Higher Education: Processes and Outcomes
EditorsHarry Boer, Jon File, Jeroen Huisman, Marco Seeber, Martina Vukasovic, Don F. Westerheijden
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-42236-7
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Publication series

NamePalgrave studies in global higher education


  • IR-103583
  • METIS-321606

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