Changing Higher Education and Welfare States in Postcommunist Central Europe: New Contexts Leading to New Typologies? (CPP RPS 64/2014)

Thumbnail Image





Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Center for Public Policy Research Papers Series

Title alternative


Debates on the future of higher education in postcommunist Central European economies are closely linked to much wider debates on the future of the public sector and of the state provision of public services in general (Orenstein 2009, Häusermann 2010, and Rothgang et al. 2010). In the acme of the development of traditional Keynesian postwar welfare state regimes in Europe, it was the state – rather than the market – that was deeply involved in the economy and in the protection of nation-state citizens against the potential social evils of postwar capitalism (Hurrelmann et al. 2007a). As Vito Tanzi highlighted in his recent book on Governments versus Markets. The Changing Economic Role of the State, the role of the state in the economic development is the fundamental question: How wide and deep such a role be in a market economy? What should the state do? How much should be left to the market and to the free economic decisions of individuals or groups of citizens? How should the state perform its role? (Tanzi 2011: ix). The role of the state in general means also, in a context of interest to us here, its role in the provision of both higher education services and welfare state services. It was in Central Europe, exposed to the influences of global organizations in redefining their national welfare policies following the fall of communism in 1989 that the direct link between the new “effective” state on the one hand (with “downsizing” of the public sector) and higher education policies on the other, was very much visible. With almost no exceptions, higher education in the 1990s was one of the lowest priorities in European transition countries, with chronic underfunding of their universities as a permanent feature. Social policies for the ten accession countries which joined the European Union in 2004, generally promoted and praised in subsequent accession countries’ reports by the European Commission, were not exactly “European” policies rooted in a “European social model”2. On the contrary, as Zsuzsa Ferge (2001: 129-30) showed (with respect to policies actually being implemented in the healthcare, pensions, higher education and other public sectors), these policies were largely neoliberal. It is in Central Europe that educational policies, and consequently the future of public universities, may be going hand in hand with changing welfare policies, as in the traditional World Bank formulation of the “third wave of privatization” where changes in (higher) education follow changes in the two other major claimants on welfare state resources: healthcare services and public pensions systems (Rama 2000; see the ideas of “redefining the state”, “shrinking the state”, “dismantling democratic states”, and “transforming the state” in Spulber 1997, Feigenbaum et al. 1998, Suleiman 2003, and Hurrelmann et al. 2007a).





CPP RPS Vol. 64 (2014), Poznań, 2014, pp. 1-33.



Title Alternative

Rights Creative Commons

Creative Commons License

Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Biblioteka Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Ministerstwo Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego