Dissertation Abstracts

Regionalising Higher Education Transformation in Europe: What kind of Positionality for the Council of Europe in Relation to the Bologna Process, 1999-2010?

Author: Melo, Susana , edsjdm@bris.ac.uk
Department: Graduate School of Education
University: University of Bristol, United Kingdom
Supervisor: Susan Robertson and Roger Dale
Year of completion: 2013
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: Europe , Higher Education , Regionalisation , Bologna Process
Areas of Research: Political Sociology , Education , Organization


This thesis sets out to provide an in-depth analysis of the connectivity between the Council of Europe (CoE) and the Bologna Process. Since 1999, the Bologna Process has been consolidated as a governance structure aimed at advancing a regionalising project of higher education transformation termed “European Higher Education Area” (EHEA). As a member of the Bologna Process, the CoE represents a pan-European international organisation that has promoted regional co-operation in higher education since the early 1950s. Focusing on the period 1999 to 2010, the thesis examines the following two questions: in what ways does the CoE higher education policy trajectory demonstrate relationships to the Bologna Process? And how do these relationships signal a common positionality with respect to the politico-economic direction of higher education transformation in Europe? The investigation of these questions is framed by a critical theory approach and empirically grounded in an extended ethnographic case study conducted between November 2008 and June 2010, during which period I integrated in the CoE Higher Education and Research Division as a trainee/participant observer. On the basis of this study, the thesis advances the argument that the connectivity between the CoE and the Bologna Process entailed a redefinition of the CoE higher education policy trajectory: a trajectory that became increasingly characterised by a reinforcement of the objective of furthering the marketization of the European higher education sector - as similarly pursued in the Bologna Process. This shift, however, is misrepresented in the CoE higher education discourse, which is marked by the absence of economic imaginaries. In summary, the thesis seeks to contribute to expanding knowledge on the European level political and policy-making dynamics that underpin the making of the EHEA by counteracting the prevalent tendency to analyse the Bologna Process from the standpoint of the European Union.