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Reforming higher education systems in europe since the 80s :between utilitarianism and justice ?


  • Jean Luc De Meulemeester


We present in this paper the main characteristics and motivations for reforming higher education systems, first in England (a successful process from the point of view of the policy-makers) since the early 80s and then at the European level since the mid-90s. We stress the shift from a Humboldtian model with relatively autonomous universities (with a protective state funding them and allowing them to pursue their own agenda) to a new model where universities increasingly become tools of wider economic (and social) policies. We stress the role of English reforms as models for European-wide reforms in order to maximize the contribution of higher education to competitiveness, innovation and employability objectives. We make a link with the various theories of justice at our disposal, and we stress the dominance of the utilitarian views. We should nevertheless stress that some elements of the “new model” (as principles of fairness concerning a right level of accountability, the introduction of top-up fees, the stress on equality of opportunity) also involve other philosophical perspectives (Rawlsian, for example).

Suggested Citation

  • Jean Luc De Meulemeester, 2011. "Reforming higher education systems in europe since the 80s :between utilitarianism and justice ?," Working Papers CEB 11-058, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  • Handle: RePEc:sol:wpaper:2013/105062

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jean Luc De Meulemeester, 2011. "Quels modèles d’université pour quel type de motivation des acteurs ?Une vue évolutionniste," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/147678, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    2. Easterlin, Richard A., 1995. "Preferences and prices in choice of career: The switch to business, 1972-1987," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 1-34, June.
    3. Jean Luc De Meulemeester & Denis Rochat, 2004. "The European philosophy regarding education and training: a critical assessment," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/1637, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    4. Sapir, Andre & Aghion, Philippe & Bertola, Giuseppe & Hellwig, Martin & Pisani-Ferry, Jean & Rosati, Dariusz & Vinals, Jose & Wallace, Helen, 2004. "An Agenda for a Growing Europe: The Sapir Report," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199271498.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H52 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Education
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy

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