23 SES 17 A, ‘Unity in Diversity’ in European H.E. Policies, Dominant Political Rationalities and (re)Articulations in Specific National Contexts
National higher education (HE) policies in Europe have been reconfigured under the influence of the post-Lisbon Agenda, aiming to involve HE in the creation of the “knowledge economy”. This “globally structured educational agenda” (Dale, 2000), realised in and through the discourse on the formation of the EHEA, has been disseminated nationally without much uniformity (Capano & Piattoni, 2011). Recontextualisations at the national and institutional levels, the sites at which policy (re)formation occurs and thus ideology can play (Bernstein, 2000), reveal discursive gaps between official state policies and local institutional responses. In the case of Greece, successive reform policies introduced between 2011 and 2017 mark a period in which shifts in discourses, articulated both at the national and local level, illustrate the emergence of competing discourses and ambivalence on what should be promoted as important changes in higher education and how it is legitimated in the various interrelated arenas (public and of experts, supra-national, local). Discourses articulated throughout this period of abundant official state policy productions challenge, resist or accommodate European and global dominant discourses on HE. The onset of this rather turbulent period in HE was marked by the introduction of the clearly “neoliberal” legal framework 4009/2011, which introduced a competitive ethos in the sector embedded in HE governance- restructuring and quality assurance mechanisms. Numerous amendments have followed with the most recent legislation reform (Act4485/2017) introducing a rupture to the previous neoliberal governmental interventions and legitimising academics’ call to restore academic values in HE practices. Being the product of a coalition government which came into power claiming to protect “the people” from austerity policies (Stavrakakis & Katsambekis, 2014), the new reform aims to reassert HEIs’ public character, provide equal opportunities to all and re-regulate a presumed de-regulated national system under the influence of neoliberal ideology (Tsatsaroni & Sarakinioti, 2017). Despite its egalitarian agenda we argue that the new reform policy strengthens governmental control in important aspects of HE, retaining the elements of managerialism, competitiveness, and skills as powerful drivers of the performativity practices of HEIs. The question we are addressing is how such contradictory discourses, revolving around notions of equality, autonomy and accountability, are sustained and what is the function of “quality” in their coexistence in practice. Findings from 25 semi-structured interviews with academics will be used to illustrate the articulations of these contested HE hegemonic discourses at the level of policy and pedagogic practice of specific institutions.
Bernstein, B. (2000). Pedagogy, Symbolic Control and Identity. Theory, research, critique. Revised edition, New York, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Capano, G., & S. Piattoni (2011). From Bologna to Lisbon: the political uses of the Lisbon “script” in European higher education policy. Journal of European Public Policy, 18(4), 584-606. Dale, R. (2000). Globalisation and Education: demonstrating a “common world educational culture” or locating a “globally structured educational agenda”? Educational Theory, 50(4), 427-448. Stavrakakis, Y., & G. Katsambekis (2014) Left-wing populism in the European periphery: the case of SYRIZA. Journal of Political Ideologies, 19(2),119-142. Sarakinioti, A. & Tsatsaroni, A. (2017) Symbolic control and Identity in the Struggle to Manage Crisis: Implications for Higher Education Policy Analysis, Symposium Paper: Dwelling in Ambivalence: Elaborating the Sociology of Basil Bernstein for Critical Policy Scholarship, presented at the European Education Research Association Conference, Copenhagen, 22-25 August.
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