Higher Education and Research


Higher education governance

Higher education governance is an issue that is strongly connected to the Council of Europe’s key missions: protection of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. It is also very much present in the discussions in the framework of the Bologna process. Although it has not yet been treated as a separate issue (apart from one Bologna seminar on “Student participation in governance in higher education” organized by the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research) it is an underlying theme for all aspects of the implementation of the Bologna Declaration.

The CDESR (Steering Committee for Higher Education and Research) launched a project on “Higher education governance” in autumn 2003. The project is expected to last three years, 2004 – 2006. The main objectives of the project are to contribute to the Council of Europe’s 2005 Year of Citizenship through Education as well as to the work programme of the Bologna process in 2005-2007. It aims to strengthen the participation of students, staff and other stakeholders in higher education governance.

In this respect, specific goals are:

  • to provide background material and room for discussion on the issue of higher education governance
  • o by conducting a review of available research literature on the matter
  • o by organizing a conference in autumn 2005
  • to define possible areas of future work of the Council of Europe in the field of higher education governance
  • to develop a concrete input for the Bergen Ministerial Conference to take place in 2007

The review of the scientific literature will go beyond a mere collection and summary of data and include theoretical considerations which allow an informed interpretation of facts and data. It will focus among others on the following issues:

  • different approaches to the formulation of objectives/ mission (information based, interest group based or object driven from academia) and the interplay between public authorities, higher education institutions and civil society;
  • a grouped/ categorised overview of legal situations as well as cultures of practice including features like the relationship of faculty autonomy and university autonomy, clusters of major issues (bones of contention), etc;
  • an overview of and a reflection on the terms used in order to help clarify terminology;
  • the shift of paradigm from steering by law to steering by economics/ financing and its effect on autonomy;
  • preparation for life as an active citizen in democratic society as part of the multiple mission of higher education.

The conference will focus on the following topics:

  • The mission of Higher Education in the changed societal context and its implications for Governance
  • The Governance of Higher Education Systems
  • The Governance of Higher Education institutions
  • The actors of Higher Education Governance

More information

The Forum on Higher Education Governance

The collection of quotes on the topic of governance

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