Governance Trends in European Higher Education

Harry F. de Boer, Jeroen Huisman

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This chapter focuses on developments in governance in European higher education, with a focus on Western Europe. It presents an overview of the literature on this topic, including the various modes of governance as well as the changes in European higher education in recent decades. The chapter starts by describing different conceptual models used to address and analyse higher education governance. Next, it portrays general tendencies with regard to governance and shows that states have been delegating some of their powers to other levels in the higher education system in four directions: an upward shift to the supranational level, a horizontal shift to ‘independent’ agencies, a downward shift to the institutions (‘autonomy’), and an outward shift (‘privatization, contracting’). As a result of these shifts, often cited as a move from government to governance, the modes of system steering and coordination have become more complex and dynamic, including more stakeholders at different policy levels. The chapter then considers that governance configurations in European higher education not only have similarities, but also differ in various ways.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationConvergence and Diversity in the Governance of Higher education: Comparative Perspectives
EditorsGiliberto Capano, Darryl Jarvis
PublisherCambridge University Press
ISBN (Print)9781108669429
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2020

Publication series

NameCambridge Studies in Comparative Public Policy


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