Honouring Higher Education?

Abstract : Long forgotten as being part of the sociology of education, today higher education is the subject of many research studies, as well as numerous publications. This essay is based on the critical reading of several works recently published in Europe and the USA (between 2009 and 2011) that explore higher education and research. There are three levels: that of European public action, that of the influence it has on national ‘evaluative’ reforms and policies, and, lastly, on a more micro-sociological level, examining the impact of these public actions on universities and on their various actors. Sarah Croché's (2011) work on the Bologna process will help us understand the reformulation of higher education policies, as well as the transformation in society's view of universities. Through my reading of Croché, we shall see how the European Commission became the main architect of the Europeanisation of how higher education is organised, in an area that used to be of uniquely national competence. Next, we shall look at a book provocatively entitled Torri d'avorio in frantumi? Dove vanno le università europee (‘Ivory Towers Crumbling? Where Are European Universities Heading?’), co-edited by Roberto Moscati, Marino Regini and Michele Rostan (2010). This book sets out the results of an international comparative research study on the reorganisation of university systems within the European knowledge economy. It helps us better understand two collective works, one of which was co-authored by two French researchers — Véronique Bedin and Anne Jorro (2009) — and the other, on the renewal and development of the question of evaluation at university, inherent to the construction of a European higher education space, by Paul Servais et al (2011) from the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium. Lastly, we shall look at a book entitled Higher Education? How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids — and What We Can Do About It, by two American political scientists (Hacker & Dreifus, 2010). This work will take us to the USA, from where — according to Sarah Croché (2011) — the new bases for a system of thought for higher education have been imported, a system of thought that is increasingly criticised and that favours competition and evaluation.
Keywords : Education
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Journal articles
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Magali Ballatore. Honouring Higher Education?. European Educational Research Journal, Symposium Journals (with European Educational Research Association), 2012, 11 (2), pp.314-319. ⟨10.2304/eerj.2012.11.2.314⟩. ⟨halshs-01599513⟩

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