The Harmonization of European Educational Policies Versus Private Institutions in the Transition Countries

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Kwiek, Marek



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The Bologna process seems to disregard one of the most significant recent developments in several major post-communist transition countries: the rise and rapid growth of the private sector in higher education and, more generally, the emergence of powerful market forces in higher education.* Consequently, the ideas behind the Bologna process – a major European integrating initiative in higher education started by the Bologna Declaration in 1999 – and analytical tools it provides to rethink the role of the university in increasingly knowledge-based societies and economies, the wider picture of the social role of higher education, and policy recommendations it develops may have unanticipated and unconsidered and perhaps mixed effects on higher education systems in certain transition countries. Both globally and in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, private higher education is part of the problem and part of the solution. Consequently, both the private sector in European (and especially Central and East European) higher education systems and the emergence of powerful market forces in the educational and research landscape in Europe have to be further analyzed if the Bologna process is not to turn into a merely “theoretical”, myopic exercise. The downplaying of the role of market forces in higher education and research and development as presented by Bologna documents and the omission of the private sector which is booming in the transition countries from the scope of Bologna interests – and from its overall conceptual scheme – give potentially misguided signals to educational authorities in transition economies. Consequently, Bologna process might distort the development of the private sector in countries where chances for the expansion of the educational system otherwise than through privatization were or are limited. Also, while the implicit disrespect for market mechanisms in higher education may have limited impact in Western European systems which take many market-related parameters of their operation for granted, it may have long-lasting negative impact on legislation and general attitude toward the private sector in some transition economies.




Bologna Process, European higher education, private higher education, harmonization, transition countries, postcommunist countries, Central and Eastern Europe, marketization, privatization, EHEA, European Higher Education Area, European integration


Prospero. A Journal of New Thinking in Philosophy for Education. Vol. 12. No. 1. 2006. 47-54.



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