Decentring European higher education governance
By its very nature, higher education governance in the EU is a decentred policy sector. On the one hand, the EU plays a merely supportive role while the member states retain their formal prerogatives over this policy area. On the other hand, according to the principle of university autonomy, government intervention in the universities’ organisational, financial and academic functioning should be limited. Since the launch of the Lisbon Strategy, the European Commission has played an increasing role in supporting and directly participating in the formally intergovernmental Bologna Process. Based on empirical fieldwork carried out in Poland, Ukraine, France and Brussels this chapter sheds light on the roles of expert groups that have been launched and supported by the European Commission: the Bologna Experts and Higher Education Reform Experts. The paper advances two major claims. First, these education experts are brokers between domestic and European political fields. By supporting these individuals, the European Commission seeks to generate its own clientele, a professional group that will promote European policies at the domestic level. Second, a comparison between the three country cases shows significant differences in the practices, position and narratives of expert groups.