Dissertation Abstracts

The Academic Profession in Universities and Higher Education Policies: The Portuguese and Spanish Cases

Author: Galego, Carla M., cmgalego@gmail.com
Department: GSE&IS
University: UCLA, USA
Supervisor: Carlos Alberto Torres
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: Portuguese

Keywords: Academic Profession , University Reform , Teaching , Research
Areas of Research: Education , Comparative Sociology , Logic and Methodology


The dissertation analyzes the transformations that have taken place in the working conditions and contexts of the academic profession in public universities in two different countries – Portugal and Spain – and within the framework of university reforms over the last four decades. For this purpose, it was assumed that it is not possible to study a country’s education policies without also exploring the social, political, and economic aspects within each country’s national boundaries.
On a theoretical level, an understanding was sought of the concept of “academic profession” in its relationship with the university, within the framework of the current process of political reform that universities are undergoing in the European context, in line with the aim to create a new university model that can lead to the future European Area for Higher Education. A review was made of the essential literature on the academic profession and education policies in higher education.
The qualitative research focused on a “collective study of cases” including a series of interviews with lecturers and researchers at public universities in Portugal and Spain. While not intended to be a “comparative study”, comparisons inevitably arose when studying how these two countries respond internally to common political guidelines aimed at creating a European university model.
It was concluded that the same guidelines lead to different national policy reforms, although they may have similar impacts. One of these impacts is the importance of academic policy reforms – through the assessment model – for the reconfiguration of working contexts and conditions in the academic profession, to the point where use of the expression “university teacher” no longer represents the academic profession: teaching is no longer the key element in the professionalization of this group of professionals.