The recent developments in Nordic higher education policy are closely linked with global tendencies, which are in turn reacted to at national and local levels. The financial crisis, massification of higher education, and the attachment to transnational, mainly European, policies have set the background for new tendencies in education governance. New governance patterns are the outcome of transnational pressures, which are domesticated at the national level. Thus, these transnational tendencies are (re-)constructed for different transnational, national and local purposes. This thematic issue analyses how the Nordic countries have reacted to these tendencies, tensions and possibilities.
This study (2011–2012) investigates the influence of internal vs external drivers on chosen aspects of the development of the Icelandic HE system. It also explores the structural development of the system, its expansion and the strengthening of graduate programmes. The role of internal drivers such as the state, the HE institutions themselves and students is explored in the light of academic drift. External drivers are transnational forces, traced to the OECD and the Bologna declaration. Analysis of official documents, including legislation, regulations and strategy documents, showed that both external and external drivers are at play, but they interact in complex ways.
Nøkkelord: Iceland, HE systems, internal drivers, external drivers
This article reveals how templates that emerge from opaque albeit often inclusive policy processes in transnational forums (EU, OECD & the Bologna Process) affect education reform policy in Scandinavian countries, such as Denmark and Sweden. The open method of coordination is the mother template of the political technologies (standards, performance indicators, scorecards, best practices) that are instrumental in fashioning reforms. This template commits countries in consensus-making ways to comparison, and normalizes the competitive incentive of mutual peer pressure. The authors draw on post-Foucauldian governmentality studies to scrutinize policy documents and literature on policy reform to display the forces behind reforms, which to date have not figured prominently in national debates.
The purpose of the article is to problematize the relationship between the Nordic democratic public higher education tradition and transnational market-driven knowledge economy policies. The article illustrates this development with two cases: quality assurance and internationalization policies, where external demands, based mostly on market ideologies, have been introduced with apparently transnational incentives but having national implementations. These transnational pressures are related to a kind of soft governance of higher education policy, characterized by networked decision-making and use of expert consultants, which possibly promotes flexible decision-making and efficiency, but may simultaneously produce adverse outcomes to transparent and democratic decision-making.
During the last decade, an accreditation system for higher education has been introduced in Denmark. Accreditation partly represents continuity from an earlier evaluation system, but it is also part of a government policy to increasingly define higher education institutions as market actors. The attempts of universities to increase their student enrolments have combined with the logic of accreditation to produce an increasing number of higher education degrees, often overlapping in content. Students’ scope for choice has been widened, but the basis for and the consequences of choice have become less clear.
This article explores the profound changes which have been going on in Finnish university policies from the 1980s to now. It also analyzes how the new modes and features of university policies have changed the functions, the modes of governance and the meaning of the Finnish university. The implementation and the reception of new policies are explored at the national, institutional and actor level. Drawing on policy documents, statistics, interviews and a survey, this article indicates that models such as the ´entrepreneurial model’ have replaced old traditional models of the university, but the reception of new ideas and practices has been contradictory.