ERG SES C 02, Education Policies
This paper aims to present an overview of an ongoing PhD research into the Bologna Process (BP) policy learning in Ukrainian higher education. The BP is a European initiative for cooperation in higher education to create an internationally competitive European Higher Education Area through a range of such objectives as the adoption of comparable degrees, cycles of study process, system of credits, promotion of student and faculty mobility, quality assurance, European dimension and some other objectives. The focus on Ukraine in the BP policy learning is provoked by the necessity to bring geographical European periphery into a scholarly discussion of European higher education policy which has been concentrated so far on the EU members and applicant states to which Ukraine does not belong. Furthermore, Ukrainian context presents an interesting site for exploration because of its ambiguous geopolitical location aspiring both to Russia and the EU.
Refining research questions for this study has been an iterative process along with the review of different bodies of literature on the BP, policy learning, Ukrainian higher education, higher education and the BP in this country. The major research question is yielded by gaps in literature on the BP and the policy learning theory, and the subsidiary research questions are formed on the basis of adapting heuristic conceptual framework of Dolowitz and Marsh (2000). The BP is presented in literature from three main angles: reasons to join the BP, governance of the BP, and the BP implementation implications. The BP learning has not been elaborated on fully. Further, the policy learning literature lacks in the focus on the process of learning and, and instead, deals primarily with the implications of learning. To fill in these gaps, Dolowitz and Marsh’s (2000) conceptual framework which suggest studying policy transfer through asking certain questions was chosen and adapted to the investigation of the BP policy learning by asking what actors and instruments are present in the BP policy learning.
What kind of insight does the Ukrainian case give to the BP and the policy learning theory?
- What actors participate in the BP policy learning?
- What are the instruments of the BP policy learning?
As mentioned earlier, the conceptual framework used to form research questions is a heuristic way to guide research inquiry into policy learning which suggests that it is not a theory. What is taken as a theoretical basis to frame this research is policy learning which has been discussed a lot in the recent literature both explicitly and implicitly as a theory for policy analysis. Despite many problems in defining and applying this theory to policy research, there is a general consensus that it should be associated with the study of policy decisions that result from the interaction between past knowledge and new information. The BP policy learning in Ukraine is exactly about such decisions made by the actors of the BP policy learning about the BP instruments in the context of a dialogue between Ukrainian higher education traditions and developing European tendencies in higher education linked to the BP.
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