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The Globalisation Challenge for European Higher Education. Convergence and Diversity, Centres and Peripheries

Pavel Zgaga, Ulrich Teichler, John Brennan (eds.). The Globalisation for European Higher Education. Convergence and Diversity, Centres and Peripheries. Peter Lang Editon, Frankfurt am Main, 2013. ISBN: 978-3-631-63908-5. Pages: 389.

Composed of 15 articles, this miscellany deals with Europe’s higher education systems and the challenges they face in light of increasing globalisation and internationalisation of the higher education sector. The fundamental idea behind the book and the articles themselves lies in the contradictions between the ambition of creating a unified European higher education area and the respect for the diverse deeply-rooted, national higher education landscapes. Consequently, the miscellany centres on two opposed perspectives in light of the globalisation challenge for European higher education – convergence and centres on the one hand, and diversity and peripheries on the other hand. Being divided in three parts, the book gives a broad geographic overview of the higher education challenges throughout Europe. The first part addresses general and major issues of the higher education sector such as student mobility, quality assessment, convergence and diversification. Teichler, for instance, discusses the topic of student mobility uplifted as the most popular aim in the Europeanisation discourse of higher education. In another chapter, Hazelkorn and Ryan deal with the acceleration effect of university rankings on the modernisation agenda of higher education in Europe. The second part of the book focuses on societal issues related to equity and access to higher education. In this respect, Brennan, for example, examines the British discourse on meritocracy and Kwiek deals with access to higher education in Poland in light of demographic changes. The third part puts a strong emphasis on developments in the higher education field in the Western Balkans. Accordingly, Bacevic contrasts the post-national constellation in the higher education sector brought about by the European integration process with the fragmentation along ethnic and religious lines in four parts of the Western Balkans. Zgaga discusses higher education reforms in the Western Balkans with particular attention to the peripheral role of these countries which he, therefore, deems as ‘policy colonies’ of those reforms. In conclusion, it can be said that the book examines carefully the impact of higher education reforms during the last decade by not limiting itself to almost classical major issues and the probably better known examples, but rather by presenting a more peripheral area of Europe’s higher education reforms.