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Higher Education as a Foreign Policy Tool - The Case of the European Union

Foreign Policy
Integration
Policy Analysis
Higher Education
Policy Implementation
Hila Zahavi
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Hila Zahavi
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Abstract

During the last 20 years, the EU has operated different programs in the field of higher education which are directed to non-EU audiences and non-EU countries. Throughout the years, the budget of these programs (part of them financed by the EEAS budget line) have grown consistently and today they are all part of the Erasmus+ program (active since 2014). The suggested Paper examines how the EU shapes its policy and disseminates its messages outside its borders through external programs of higher education. The paper uses the case studies of the Erasmus Mundus and Tempus (now Erasmus+) programs, to explain and elaborate on past and current policies of the EU in the field of higher education outside its borders. The main objective is to demonstrate and analyze how these policies are related to wider objectives of the EU in international arena, such as promoting certain values and self-images. The Paper explains the motivation and implications of this dissemination through the theoretical framework of the normative power theory as part of the EU's foreign policy and its aspirations in the field of international relations. Methodologically, the paper is based on the analysis of official documents of the EU, and interviews with officials to describe the policy and its objectives. It also uses quantitative questionnaires and qualitative interviews with participants of the programs to describe the influence of the relevant programs on its participants and the higher education systems outside Europe. The Paper shows how higher education programs help the EU strengthen its image, and its power in the international arena, by using the Normative Power Europe theory. Using various methodologies, it shows how the theory comes to practice in the field of higher education outside Europe, and open a discussion regarding the unique characteristics of the field of higher education in relations to the implementation of the theory. Thus, through this examination, the paper will enrich the current knowledge and understanding of European Policies in the field of Higher Education, and open the discussion on the international dimension of European higher education, which usually stays out of focus.