The role of Europe in higher education policy: expansion across borders and levels

Marijk van der Wende, Jeroen Huisman

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    The best symbol for the main and best-known achievements of EU action in the area of higher education is probably the celebration of the one millionth ERASMUS student in October 2002. But although the exchange of students between EU member states, and later on also with associated countries in Central and Eastern Europe, has been the flagship activity, it has certainly not been the only EU action in this area. In fact, in the last five years, a considerable extension of policy application has been undertaken. From an initial focus on mobility and networking at the individual level, a next step was made to enhance co-operation at curriculum level and policy-development at institutional level. More recently, initiatives are being taken to develop common agendas for action at the system level. This last phase is of particular importance for policy development at national level. Although nation states have not transferred more formal competencies to the supranational (EU) level, intergovernmental action is increasing in a bottom-up fashion (e.g. the Bologna process). At the same time, the European Commission is becoming more and more integrated into this process and European-level policy processes can be expected to have a growing impact on decision making at national level. This article presents a short historical overview of Europe’s role in higher education policy and discusses in particular the most recent changes in this area.
    Original languageUndefined
    Pages (from-to)30-46
    Number of pages17
    JournalTijdschrift voor hoger onderwijs
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


    • METIS-216609
    • IR-61630

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