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DEMOCRATS, AUTHORITARIANS AND THE BOLOGNA PROCESS: UNIVERSITIES IN GERMANY, RUSSIA, ENGLAND AND WALES
DEMOCRATS, AUTHORITARIANS AND THE BOLOGNA PROCESS: UNIVERSITIES IN GERMANY, RUSSIA, ENGLAND AND WALES
Wolfson College, Oxford, UK and Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK
with a Preface by
UCL Institute of Education, London, UK
United Kingdom – North America – Japan – India – Malaysia – China
Emerald Publishing Limited
Howard House, Wagon Lane, Bingley BD16 1WA, UK
First edition 2018
Copyright © 2018 Emerald Publishing Limited
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To Alexander S. Revushkin, who first aroused my curiosity about the Bologna Process
My main acknowledgement is to the many busy people whom I interviewed, all of whom gave up their time to answer my tyro questions. Except in the few cases where they requested anonymity, their names are given in the text or in notes at the place where their information is used. But there are also the librarians in many parts of the Bodleian Library, and people whom I did not interview, but who contributed significantly to what is written here.
Chronologically, the first of these is Paola Mattei, who drew my attention to the seminar series which she convened at the European Studies Centre at St Antony’s College, Oxford in the summer of 2012. Not only did it provide the basis for the subsequent book which she edited, 1 but it also provided an ideal entry point for my work on the Bologna Process.
I am indebted to Graham and Annalisa Avery for their hospitality in Brussels while I carried out most of the interviews for Chapter 3. I am also particularly grateful to Sjur Bergan and to Lesley Wilson for their detailed comments on an earlier draft, which rescued me from important omissions and inaccuracies, and to Jan Sadlak for useful information from a chance conversation.
Deborah Hodgkin suggested much of the reading for the first part of Chapter 2; Sidney A Shapiro drew my attention at a seminar organised by Liz Fisher to the work of Harry Collins; Stephen Rowland read the whole chapter with a critical eye.
In many ways, the chapter about Germany was the most demanding, since the German higher education system was virgin territory for me. Susan Lourenco-Williams and Louis Williams provided welcome hospitality in Berlin during a bitterly cold week in January 2013, when I carried out the interviews in Leipzig and Berlin. A further snowstorm in Bonn in March prevented Margret Wintermantel and Birger Hendriks from coming there for the interviews we had arranged, but both talked with me by telephone instead. My biggest thanks go to Peter Zervakis, who spent a whole afternoon explaining HRK’s work on the Bologna Process, who gave me an immense amount of highly relevant material, and who showed continuing interest in my work as it progressed.
Fortunately, I was too well acquainted with the Siberian winter to go to Russia then. I undertook my fieldwork there rather earlier, in September 2012. I started in Omsk, where Sergei Kostarev and Polina Zakotnova arranged a fascinating programme for me. Polina interpreted for me where it was needed; Svetlana Kostareva provided welcome accommodation after my long flight. In Tomsk, Sergei Kirpotin helped me arrange my interview programme and interpreted at my meeting with the Rector, Georgy Mayer. For another meeting, Peter Tarasenko (who would have been well worth interviewing in his own right) acted as interpreter. Michael Mochalov and Robert Service tracked down the reference to Alexander S. Revushkin’s work. Moscow was my biggest challenge; I would not have known where to start if Olga Oleynikova had not arranged a fascinating set of interviews for me. In addition, she took me to the Bolshoi Theatre and to a rather good restaurant! Much later in the progress of the book, Geoffrey Hosking read the whole Russian chapter.
My introduction to work on England and Wales came at a CDBU conference at Brighton University in May 2013, where fortuitously Gill Scott delivered the talk from which a large extract is taken, with her permission. An official at BIS helped me to find my way round the many actors involved in England. For the individual universities, I am particularly grateful to John Mackenzie at Salford, who went to a great deal of trouble to assemble everyone relevant for me to interview.
Catriona Davies of WISERD at Cardiff University tracked down a map free of copyright obligations and amended it to show the extent of the Bologna Process.
The higher education system in Wales was new to me. My work there began with an invaluable orientation meeting with Geraint Talfan Davies, who indicated the names of many of the people with whom it would be useful to talk. Interviews with Neil Surman and with Huw Morris – a Bologna Expert – were particularly helpful.
Yvonne Jehenson read the whole book and suggested invaluable rearrangements to the first and last chapters of the penultimate draft. Most of all, I am enormously grateful to Anne Corbett, who not only provided critical comments and suggested a crucial rearrangement of chapters, but also suggested Emerald Group as possible publishers.
And my acknowledgements would be grossly incomplete without mentioning my husband, David Marquand, who has taken a lively interest in the progress of the work, reading and commenting on successive drafts of most chapters, and even printing out much of the book when my own printer and computer refused to communicate with each other.
But the views expressed here are entirely my own.
In this book Judith Marquand has rescued the Bologna Process from the condescension that has often been its fate, certainly in the United Kingdom, one of four signatories of the original Sorbonne Declaration in 1998 that foreshadowed this Europe-wide movement of reform in higher education and also two of case-study countries on which she has based her penetrating analysis (she has treated England Wales separately – rightly so, in my view).
It is a remarkable achievement. Too often the Bologna Process has been dismissed in the United Kingdom (or, more accurately, England because both Wales and in particular Scotland have shown greater enthusiasm) as a dry-as-dust matter of interest mainly to university administrators or a pretext for Euro-groups to junket by engaging in a ceaseless round of self-justificatory meetings or, worst of all, utterly irrelevant because the United Kingdom had been doing almost everything required by it already. In fact, as Marquand shows, it is the other way round. England is not super-compliant with Bologna but rather, because of its desire to engineer a free-market revolution in higher education (despite the broad opposition of the universities, bar a thin top leadership class), Bologna has become irrelevant.
In this book, Marquand has succeeded in bringing Bologna alive. She has made it a subject of compelling interest, not simply in the particular terms of the reform in higher education but also more broadly of how networks are emerging to tackle global problems (what is, perhaps rather grandly, referred to as the ‘New World Order’ – ‘disorder’ might be a more accurate label in an age of Trump and Brexit).
Outside the ranks of Bologna-philes, the English response has always been a contradictory mixture of ‘we are doing it all already’ and ‘it’s all irrelevant anyway’. In contrast, in the rest of Europe – even Putin’s neo-authoritarian Russia – it has been used to launch a movement not only of reform but also of renewal of the European university. England, if not the whole United Kingdom (despite its pivotal historical role in that European tradition), is now rather awkwardly semi-detached – a stance that appears to have become generic and endemic in our relations with our European neighbours, as the catastrophic result of the referendum its continuing membership of the European Union with its razor-thin majority to ‘leave’ has demonstrated. Maybe our indifference to, occasionally even irritation with, Bologna prefigured Brexit.
In central and eastern Europe, in particular, the Bologna Process has been a key instrument in reconnecting these countries to the European mainstream after more than four decades of totalitarian rule. Outside Europe too Bologna has been admired. I remember a meeting of higher education ministries and funding agencies on the far side of the world in New Zealand where the State Commissioner for Wisconsin asked, only half in jest, how he could ‘join’ the Bologna Process.
Few of those present when the Bologna Declaration was signed in the summer of 1999 can have imagined the impact of the process that was being initiated that day. A decade-and-a-half later, far from diminishing, that impact is greater than ever. Judged against the stuttering efforts to make progress on other, much higher-profile, global agendas such as climate change that also depend on building international consensus through networks of persuasion, Bologna has been a remarkable success – an exemplar perhaps for all such efforts (although not literally global in its reach, it stretches more than half-way round the globe from Greenland to Vladivostok). For that reason alone, Bologna deserves serious study far beyond the higher education community.
The motives of the original, and subsequent, signatories were inevitably mixed. The Germans were concerned about the length of time students took to receive the Diplom, so the attractions of a two-cycle bachelors-masters pattern were immediately appealing. France, despite its supposedly Napoleonic and statist traditions, possessed a fragmented higher education system, divided between universities and grandes écoles, and Bologna held out the promise of greater integration. The Italians, and others, saw an external instrument, such as Bologna, as a lever for reform of their universities. For the central and eastern Europeans, as has already been said, Bologna was a powerful symbol of reintegration, even hope for the future. The British… well, we tagged along.
But underlying these particular motives there were two generic concerns. The first was how to cope with the growth of student demand and the expansion of higher education. Here Bologna could provide only part of the answer, by promoting more sensible patterns of study, raising standards and focusing attention on student achievement. The other part concerned the, still sharply contested and unresolved, question of how these greatly expanded systems of higher education should be funded – a dilemma made more acute by the, mistaken but ubiquitous, austerity policies pursued since the banking crisis of 2008. The second was a desire to make European universities more competitive, grounded in a concern that they were no match for their American peers today (and tomorrow might not be a match for their Chinese or Korean ones).
Here Bologna has provided a fuller answer. It is not difficult to imagine that, with the benefit of historical hindsight, the early years of the twenty-first century will be recognised as a period of renewal for European universities, perhaps a golden age. For that the Bologna Process deserves the major credit. But, as Marquand points out, Europe has had to walk a narrow line between, on the one hand, modernisation, the drive towards improved efficiency and more effective management of universities (which inevitably perhaps raises the question of the role of the ‘market’) and, on the other, the preservation of what is often coyly labelled the ‘social dimension’, the contribution that universities can and do make to social justice, civic solidarity and the wider public good. Compellingly she contrasts the ‘liberal democratic’ origins of the Bologna process with its ‘social democratic tinge’.
This book transcends the narrow boundaries of higher education studies in two ways. The first has already been mentioned, the model Bologna offers of doing business on an international level (in this case the reform of higher education on a continental scale). It may be argued that this has been easier in a European context. Although an inter-state process not ‘owned’ by the European Commission, and indeed stretching far beyond the frontiers of the EU, Bologna clearly benefitted from habits of compromise and cooperation that have grown up since the Treaty of Rome. But this model of the ‘New World Order’ provided by Bologna is crucial because it relates to the making of public policy; other models of globalisation relate almost exclusively to markets (and, perhaps, resistance to markets).
The second way in which this book transcends narrow disciplinary boundaries is that it offers a clear theoretical framework in which to locate, and understand, the reform of European higher education since the signing of the Bologna Declaration in 1999. Marquand usefully reminds us that the ubiquitous ‘New Public Management’ is a complex, indeed fractured, phenomenon. She skilfully analyses the inter-relationships between different strands within public management more generally – ‘fatalist’ (characterised by the collapse of trust and advance of cynicism), ‘hierarchist’ (where rules are there to be obeyed – without too many questions), egalitarian (when the rules are always ‘in play’ within a lively democratic culture) and individualistic (when markets ‘rule OK’ and all forms of collectivism are suspect). She does so at multiple levels, the European Higher Education Area, nation states, higher education systems and individual institutions.
It is tempting to typecast her four case studies in these terms – Russia as enduringly ‘hierarchist’, Germany as a combination of the ‘hierarchist’ and the egalitarian (or collegial), England as the cheer leader for more individualistic, market driven, conceptions of higher education, and Wales as tacking back to a more recognisably ‘European’ and collectivist model. But, as the example of Bologna demonstrates, that is perhaps too simple. Despite Putin’s neo-authoritarianism Russia has held to Bologna, regardless of its liberal democratic origins, a reflection perhaps of an older nineteenth-century debate between westernisers and Slavophiles. Its adherence to Bologna may confirm Russia’s essentially western orientation under Putin, despite rising international tensions with the United States, NATO and, to a lesser extent, the EU. Germany’s rather ponderous implementation of Bologna may demonstrate how deeply entrenched its post-war democratic culture has become, in terms of its deep commitment not only to liberal values (so eloquently displayed by its open-door policies to refugees in 2015) but also to the need to build genuine consent that demands careful negotiation. Her description of Wales’ attempt to chart a different path from England makes me long for a Scottish case-study. Are we really witnessing the slow break-up of the United Kingdom (or perhaps Tom Nairn’s UKania), begun almost a century ago with the independence of Ireland? As for England attitudes to Bologna are, with hindsight, deeply revealing and disturbing, prefiguring the persistence of old dogmas and the advance of new illusions culminating in the insularity and arrogance (but also complacency and insecurity) of Brexit.
The value of Marquand’s book lies in its capacity to stimulate such thoughts. Not only has she provided analytical tools for understanding the Bologna Process better and the wider evolution of twenty-first-century higher education systems, but she has also suggested new ways of thinking about the ‘character’ (and future direction?) of our societies in a more general and fundamental sense.
Professor of Higher Education Studies, UCL Institute of Education, London, UK
Map of Council of Europe and European Higher Education Area (EHEA) members
European Higher Education Area and the Members Committed to the Bologna Process
Kazakhstan, while not a member of the Council of Europe, is a member of the EHEA and is committed to the Bologna Process.
Belarus is not a member of the Council of Europe, but is a probationary member of the EHEA.
The European Commission is a member of the Bologna Follow-Up Group (BFUG).
The full members of the EHEA and BFUG include 48 countries (including each of the Belgian Flemish and the Belgian French Communities) and the European Commission. They are party to the European Cultural Convention and have declared their willingness to pursue and implement the objectives of the Bologna Process in their own systems of higher education. They are listed below, with the dates when they committed to the Bologna Process.
|Year of Commitment to the Bologna Process|
|Belarus: Probationary member||2015|
|Belgium Flemish Community||1999|
|Belgium French Community||1999|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||2003|
|European Commission: (Bologna Follow-Up Group)||1999|
|The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia||2003|
- Chapter 1 Introduction
- Chapter 2 Learning, Innovation, Society and the Bologna Process
- Chapter 3 The Bologna Process: A Quiet Revolution
- Chapter 4 Germany: Aesop’s Tortoise
- Chapter 5 Russia: Potemkin Lives?
- Chapter 6 United Kingdom: England (and Wales up to 1999) – Aesop’s Hare
- Chapter 7 Wales: The Red Dragon Awakens
- Chapter 8 Discussion and Conclusions
- Appendix The Bologna Declaration of 19 June 1999