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Europeanisation and Beyond: Polish Higher Education between Local and Global Dynamics

Dorota Dakowska

The transformations of Higher Education (HE) systems in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) result from the combined effects of the new liberal economic and political agenda prevailing after the fall of communism and of the EU accession conditionality. On the eve of accession, the Bologna Process and the Lisbon strategy had made policy makers from candidate states increasingly receptive to European recommendations. This being said, the paper challenges the explanations of Europeanisation as a linear process. It demonstrates that the transformations of HE institutions have a global dimension, as they were promoted by international organisations active in the field of education and have further been shaped by global trends such as the growing influence of international rankings. The paper focuses on the domestic uses of external recommendations. It sheds light on domestic actor configurations and games. It shows how policy entrepreneurs make strategic uses of European or other external models according to their priorities. This process may entail tensions and lead to a reconfiguration of power relations. In an attempt to refine the Europeanisation perspective, my paper will examine alternative explanations of the dynamics of change, such as inspiration by models from outside the European Union or references to the narratives of international competition promoted by international organisations. The national case study will be contextualised with references to other cases situated in the region.

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