Partial Horizontal Differentiation in Croatian Higher Education: How Ideas, Institutions and Interests Shape the Policy Process

  • Jelena BrankovicEmail author
  • Martina VukasovicEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Global Higher Education book series (PSGHE)


This chapter looks into the historical process of establishing and strengthening of the non-university sector in Croatia since the mid-1990s onwards and offers an account of its outcome. Initially, the process was part of the country’s broader efforts not only to ensure regionally balanced development, but also to improve quality, efficiency and accessibility to higher education. Since 2001, it was further embedded in broader higher education reform efforts, especially the implementation of the Bologna Process. This reform entailed, on the one hand, the establishment of non-university – professionally oriented – higher education institutions and, on the other hand, a gradual abolishment of professional study programmes in universities. The authors suggest that only a small part of the reform goals have been achieved, whereby some non-university institutions have been established and the number of students enrolled in professional programmes at universities has somewhat decreased. Effectively, the reform failed to align the distinction between types of higher education institutions and types of programmes, rendering the binary divide, at best, blurred. The authors argue that such outcome has been a result of, on the one hand, the governments’ reliance on formal regulation as the main policy instrument, which allowed for discretion in interpretation and enforcement of rules, and, on the other hand, the fact that the most dominant actor – universities – has continuously opposed the reforms.


High Education Policy Instrument Policy Process High Education System Structural Reform 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ghent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Centre for Hr Education Governance GhentGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

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