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Europeanization of Higher Education in Germany : A Case Study of Alternative Access Routes to Higher Education in the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen

Spanke, G. (2017) Europeanization of Higher Education in Germany : A Case Study of Alternative Access Routes to Higher Education in the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen.

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Abstract:The concept of Europeanization has become a growing field for researchers to study policy and institutional transformation processes (Börzel & Risse, 2000; Knill & Lehmkuhl, 2000; Radaelli, 2000). Europeanization is applied to analyze changes of governmental institutions (polity), decision-making processes (politics) and policy outcomes (policies) (Olsen, 2002; Trondal, 2002). In general, there are two dominant perspectives that either focus on so-called ‘top-down’ or ‘bottom-up’ processes of Europeanization. Whereas the bottom-up approach expects that member states of the European Union (EU) influence or shape EU policies and the institutional setting of the EU in their favor, the perspective of the top-down approach focuses on domestic changes triggered by the EU. Top-down research can be divided into the development of theoretical concepts of how far different policy fields have been influenced by the EU and how governmental institutions respond to EU requirements. In addition, there are studies on the effects of EU policies on non-governmental actors, like interest groups, labor unions or civil societies (Börzel, 2003; Börzel & Risse, 2003; Sittermann, 2006). In practice, Europeanization can relatively easy be used to analyze processes in which the EU has exclusive competences, like for monetary policy or for competition rules. But for fields where only non-binding instruments exist, one has to carefully analyze the processes and the role EU institutions play in it. Especially, the role of the European Commission (EC) and its influence within such non-binding processes represents an interesting field of research. Higher Education (HE) can be regarded as such a field due to the fact that it is reserved to the legal command of the member states by the Principle of Subsidiarity. In accordance to Article 165 of Treaty on the Functioning of European Union (TFEU), the EU has only supporting, coordinating and complementary competences (Garben, 2012). From a research perspective the question arises how EU actors, like the EC, influence the field of HE, although there are no binding EU acts for the harmonization of national laws or regulations? This research picks up this question by focusing on the area of HE and in specific on alternative access to HE for people without a school-based university entrance qualification (allgemeine Hochschulreife/Abitur1). In the field of HE, properly the most dominant EU level process appears to be the so-called Bologna Process, which started in 1999. Within the Bologna Process there exist a bunch of different topics in the area of HE that aimed to be harmonized among the 46 Bologna countries. These topics range from the introduction of a European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) to the topic of lifelong learning.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:89 political science
Programme:European Studies MSc (69303)
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