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Differentiated External Effects – The External Governance of the European Higher Education Area

Mathieu Rousselin
Universität St Gallen
Mathieu Rousselin
Universität St Gallen
Open Panel

Abstract

Although the Bologna Process and its institutional achievement, the European Higher Education Area, started as a strictly pan-European cooperation, policy-makers soon came to recognise that the agenda of reforms was likely to have an “external dimension” (Bergen declaration, 2005 and Zgaga Report, 2007). At first sight, this external dimension of the EHEA presents us with a case in point of extended network governance, in which internal institutional templates translate into a form of voluntary rule transfer primarily based on expert groups and policy networks, within which the legitimacy of European standards can be conveyed, according to the predictions of the European External Governance literature (Lavenex and Schimmelfennig, 2010). Yet, this article highlights the differentiated external effects that EHEA rules, such as the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Insurance, produce on non-European states. Indeed, despite the high legitimacy of the European standards and the broad inclusiveness of the network promoting them (Bologna Policy Fora), the degree of acquaintance with the European rule is significantly higher in countries of the immediate European neighbourhood (Morocco, Tunisia) than in more distant countries such as India, Brazil or China. This article proposes a revised theoretical framework which accounts for the differentiated effects of external governance by taking into considerations power asymmetries and the domestic preferences of rule importers.