Aarhus Universitets segl


The project explores state-university relations in European higher education policy, including recent opposition against globalization and re-nationalizing trends in the wake of the Cold War. Since 1999, European higher education has undergone an extensive harmonization process across nation borders - a process through which the EU has established a ‘European Higher Education Area’. Meanwhile, universities are also increasingly caught between these ideals of deeper integration and protectionist national agendas. Against this backdrop, the project seeks to explore the societal role of the University in contemporary European states, examining its “national” role and how it might be changing. Centering on universities and their interaction with the (nation) state and international cooperation in Poland, France, the UK and Denmark, the project offers a comparative approach to understanding contemporary trends in European higher education policy making. The project also examines recent actions taken by the EU to deepen European integration and collaboration on education and research.

The project generates knowledge regarding the changing roles of higher education in contemporary national and global politics, including a theoretical framework for understanding the political significance of universities positioned between supranational and national agendas. The project also contributes to policy and society by providing Danish and European decision makers, think tanks and NGOs with knowledge that can help qualify discussions and decisions concerning the role and autonomy of universities and the European infrastructure for the exchange of knowledge and talent within academia.

The overall project consists of two PhD projects (focusing on France and Poland respectively), a postdoctoral researcher (focusing on the UK), and the PI who focuses on Denmark, the UK, and the EU. The comparative investigation addresses domains such as institutional governance, academic freedom and emerging national policies that influence the ability of European universities to engage with the international community based on a critical event analysis of a) the initiation of the Bologna Process in 1999, b) the financial crisis in 2008, c) the migration crisis in 2015, d), Brexit in 2020, e)the Corona pandemic in 2020, and f) the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022. The project further asks which conceptualizations are key to understanding the societal role of the university between supranational and national and examines the implications for the European Higher Education and Research Area.