23 SES 12 B JS, New Public Management and Standardization in Higher Educaton in Europe: Implications for Academic Work and Graduate Employability
Symposium Joint Session NW 22 with NW 23
The overall goal of this paper is to examine the relevance that graduates’ employability issues have been assuming within the outlining of educational policies focusing the regulation of higher education. A recent report by Eurydice (2014) indicates that employability of graduates is currently a topic of considerable priority in European higher education policy debates, but the approaches, the measures to improve it and the level of engagement towards these issues differ significantly across the various countries. The paper will contribute to discuss in what extent the considerable importance given to graduates’ employability might be understood as a domain in which the logics of standardization, new public management and neo-liberalization policies seem to be noticeable nowadays. Is it possible to transfer the idea that “measuring units, benchmarks and standards (…) are essential for governing the new economy of education” (Lawn, 2011, 270) to the area of graduates’ employability? Should the importance given to graduates’ employability be judged, namely accepting that we need to “move away from the excessive economism and the poverty of neo-liberalism” (Robertson, 2007, p. 12)? These two questions will guide the empirical analysis about how employability has been progressively assuming an important role in the regulation of higher education in Portugal. In fact, the hypothesis that the Portuguese situation is quite paradoxically within the European context will be explored. This exploration will draw on a documentary analysis of recent laws issued by the Portuguese government, comprising rules related to the “restructuring of academic degrees” (Dec. Lei nº 74/2006), the “legal status of higher education institutions” (Lei nº 62/2007), the “evaluation of higher education” (Lei nº 38/2007) and the “revision of the criteria for setting the number of vacancies in public institutions of higher education” that has been undergoing since 2012/13.
European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice (2014). Modernisation of Higher Education in Europe: Access, Retention and Employability 2014. Eurydice Report. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. Lawn, M. (2011). Standardizing the European Education Policy Space. European Educational Research Journal , 10 (2), 259-272. Robertson, S. (2007). Globalisation, Rescaling National Education Systems and Citizenship Regimes. In K. R. (eds), Changing Notions of Citizenship Education in Contemporary Nation-states (pp. 2-14). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.
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