22 SES 03 A, Internationalisation in Higher Education: Governance and Curriculum Development
The role of European Union and its effects in the governance of higher education and research systems at the supranational and national level is being abundant (Neave, 1984; Huisman & van der Wende, 2004; Barrett, 2017). However, less attention has been paid to the European Union’s initiatives ruled by the principle of direct management (Nedeva, 2013), where the Member-States have limited interference. For the field of higher education and research systems, the European Union’s Framework Programme and the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree study programme can be analyzed as instruments that incentivize the creation of a supranational regime of higher education and research that can be only explained through the relationship between incentivization through funding (Marques, 2018) promoted by the European Union, and the strong strategic behavior of the modern university (Krücken & Meier, 2006).
Here, we investigate the inter-organizational patterns supported by the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree initiative. Managed and funded under the Erasmus Mundus Programme since 2004, multinational joint degrees are meant to encompass at least three universities from at least three different countries. Since 2009, partner countries can be located anywhere in the world and not only in the EU. The Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree wants to promote both excellence and cooperation among countries by linking national higher education system to a common supranational framework. Beyond simple internationalization, we argue that the striking growth of joint degrees is an indicator of an increasing (re-) integration of once universalist, then national and now globalized universities in a global higher education system marked by shared sovereignties, portability and recognition of qualifications, supranational networks of quality assurance and a general discourse on the ‘global’ higher education.
Theoretically, we discuss the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree as an incentive-based funding instrument (Lascoumes & Le Galés, 2004) that aims at projecting European Union as a legitimized actor that is transforming and leading the global higher education arena. By analyzing a specific form of incentivization (Marques, 2018) we aim at surpassing the static-centric view often present in higher education and research literature and contribute to a new institutionalist perspective on EU-and-the-world studies (Buhari-Gulmez & Rumford, 2015; Rumford & Buhari-Gulmez, 2015). Moreover, we focus our analysis at the organizational level, by looking at the network of relationships between organizations that participated in the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree. By placing the focus of analysis at the meso-level we analyze higher education institutions as organizational actors – “the image of an integrated, goal-oriented entity that is deliberately choosing its own actions and that can thus be held responsible for what it does” (Krücken & Meier, 2006, p. 241) – embedded in nested organizational fields (Hüther & Krücken, 2016).
Methodologically, the data comes from the European Union Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA), which manage educational and cultural programs and activities on behalf of the European Commission. Data represents the entire range of Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree study programme for the period 2004-2017 (the start of the program). Drawing on an exhaustive dataset on European multinational joint degrees, we apply social network analysis to assess overall structure of the European network of joint degrees. In the analysis that follows, we firstly show descriptive results taking into consideration the number of EM master degrees by funding cycle, the distribution of scientific areas, and the representation of countries. Secondly, by using social network analysis we cumulatively show the evolution of the network (2004-2008, 2004-20012, 2004-2017) and the organizations that assume a central position in the network. Social Network Analysis (SNA) has grown in importance among studies in higher education and science (Freeman, 2005) to pinpoint and analyze network structures among publications, researchers, and especially, countries (Shields, 2015; Siciliano, Welch & Feeney, 2018). While macro-level and micro-level analyses have been the central attention of SNA for the field thus far, less attention has been paid to meso-level or organizational analysis. Following the arguments presented by Lazega et al., (2008) and Bellotti (2012) for more attention to this level, this paper attempts to address this gap by focusing on universities in Europe in order to uncover patterns among these organizations embedded in the European network of joint degrees. The software program Gephi was used to visualize the networks and to identify the nodes (organizations) and the edges (relationships between organizations). Networks can be understood as non-hierarchical forms of organization, composed of interconnections among individuals that are engaged in reciprocal, preferential, and mutually supportive actions (Burt, 1992). This analysis aims to detect the degree centrality of each organization in the network. The degree of centrality is simply the number of relationships that an organization has in a network—an immediate connection between organizations was made when both participated in the same research project. This measure is used to see the interconnectedness or activity of each organization in the network.
Preliminary results show a network composed by 561 organizations from 68 different countries (77% from Europe and 23% worldwide), with a total amount of 6141 relationships and an average degree of 22 partners per organization. Such results indicate a growing enlargement of the overall network – new partners are continuously joining to an established group of central organizations – which contributes to the discussion of the role of incentivization in the European integration. Moreover, the results show that while the organizations from the five largest higher education systems in Europe comprise roughly half (44%) of the total sample, the ten most central organizations are from southern large higher education systems - Polytechnic University of Catalonia (122), University of Bologna (120), University of Barcelona (109), University of Padova (101), University of Deusto (98) – and from small-medium size western European - University of Groningen (121), KU Leuven (110), and Ghent University (105)-, and northern European - University of Copenhagen (90) – higher education systems. Outside of Europe, the most preferred international partners are, as well as, from the largest higher education systems in the world such as the USA (4%), China (2%), Brazil (2%), and India (2%), but the National Autonomous University of Mexico (83), and the Stellenbosch University in South Africa (70) are the two most central outside-of-Europe organizations in the network. Such results contribute to the analysis of universities as strategic organizational actors where such forms of extra-national funding contribute to the ‘globalized university model’ (Krücken & Meier, 2006) that have been conferring ontological status or agentic authority to universities. Such preliminary results will be complemented with a disciplinary analysis and with organizational features to determine the characteristics of central and peripheral organizations in the network.
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