(Center for Public Policy Research Papers Series, 2010) Kwiek, Marek
The present paper is divided into two main parts: the first part outlines transformations of wider social and economic contexts in which European universities operate, especially the Europeanization and globalization processes, transformations to European welfare state regimes and public sector reforms, both ongoing and envisaged for the future. The second part focuses on ongoing and future transformations of universities as institutions heavily dependent on transformations already in progress in knowledge-driven economies. The paper forges a strong link between large-scale shifts and the small-scale (in this case, academic) shifts, assuming that universities as large-scale (academic) enterprises, requiring huge ongoing public and private investments, are not isolated islands unaffected by shocks resulting from wider social and economic transformations. More importantly, these shocks – called by various names in the last two decades (from global age to knowledge-economy to post-national society to second modernity to postindustrial welfare states, among others) may lead universities to unprecedented social prominence of which, as social institutions, they could not even dream of in decades past. Universities, embedded in changing social and economic settings, seem to be offered new opportunities today – but not without accompanying costs leading to farewell to (some of) their traditional “business as usual” modes of operation. New opportunities may also mean fundamental shifts in the way in which the academic profession views themselves, and is viewed by the society.