The Legal Constitution of Higher Education Policy and Governance of the European Union

  • Anne C. van Wageningen


Whereas nation states (and possibly regional governments) used to be key in setting the directions for their higher education systems, institutions and sometimes individuals within these institutions, recently — in Europe — a supranational layer of governance has gained prominence. This supranational layer is constituted, first of all, by the Bologna Process, to which 47 states (totalling more than 800 million inhabitants) adhere as members (Garben, 2011), and second, by the European Union (EU) with 28 Member States (totalling more than 500 million inhabitants). Both seem to function independently but interact through the membership of Member States of the EU in the Bologna Process as well. Moreover, the EU itself is a member of the Bologna Process, being represented by the European Commission (henceforth: Commission). Therefore, a complex patchwork of a European-level higher education policy and governance structure seems to emerge. Although both systems have been commented upon thoroughly (see e.g. Amaral et al., 2009; Maassen and Olsen, 2007; Corbett, 2005; De Witte, 1988; Lenaerts, 1994; Shaw, 1992, 1999; Neave, 2001, 2003, 2009), these structures have mainly been commented upon separately. Garben, however, has discussed both systems in an important legal study on harmonising European higher education (Garben, 2011). The aim of this contribution is to expand on the work that has been done so far and to create a deeper understanding of the complexity of supranational governance in Europe.


European Union Member State Vocational Training High Education System European Parliament 


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© Anne C. van Wageningen 2015

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  • Anne C. van Wageningen

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