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Is it possible to have a real Union without a stronger European higher education policy?

Giliberto Capano
Università di Bologna
Giliberto Capano
Università di Bologna
Open Panel

Abstract

The new European strategy for jobs and growth (Europe 2020), approved by the European Council in June 2010, has radically re-written the original draft proposed by the Commission. One of the fundamental changes provided by the final version deals with the role of education and higher education in the Strategy. Educational targets were at the core of the Commission’s proposal while now they are very marginal in the approved strategy. Education and higher education are only generically quoted in the final document but it is not a case that it provides for guidelines which “shall be fully in line with relevant Treaty provisions and EU rules and shall not alter Member States'' competences, for example in areas such as education”. So Europe 2020 clearly represents a step backward respect to the Lisbon 2010 Strategy. Education and Higher education then are no more considered as policy fields in which the integration process should go towards more stronger EU regulation. So, the Europeanization of Education and HE is left, again, to the voluntaristic attitude of national actors and based on soft policy tools (following the path of the OMC). Why have national governments decided in this way? What does this decision tell us about the State of Integration process? What does this decision tell us about the evolution of higher education policy in individual countries? The paper will address this questions by focusing on: - The causes of the decision taken in June 2010 (that is the strong position of Germany respect to the Commission’s proposal); - The comparative analysis of recent developments of the 3 national HE education policies (UK, Germany and Italy) to underline their potential differences respect to the common template pursued by the Lisbon 2010 strategy with specific focus on the modernization of HE system (accountability, governance, third-mission); - The possible impact of the “fragmented and weakly steered” Integration in education for the social and political stability of EU and on the European capacity to deal with the globalized competition to attract students and funding for universities.