DPU

Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Project description

The project explores how neo-nationalism has affected national and European higher education policy. 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, recent years have seen a rise in new forms of nationalism, seeking to reclaim education as an ethno-territorial domain. The rise of these new forms of nationalism in the wake of the Cold War, opposed to both the EU and migration, has now reached higher education policy. It therefore seems that European universities increasingly find themselves caught between supranational ambitions of European integration and protectionist national agendas. The project centers on universities and compares how neo-nationalism has affected higher education policy in Poland, France, UK and Denmark. It also examines recent actions taken by the EU to counter neo-nationalist trends in Europe.

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 is guided by the following research questions. 1: What national policies are emerging and influencing the ability of European universities to engage with the international community, centering on the following historical markers: 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? 2: Which conceptualizations are key to understanding neo-nationalism in higher education policy, comparatively across the case-countries? 3: What are the implications of neo-nationalism for the European Higher Education Area?

The project generates knowledge regarding the rise and effects of neo-nationalism in higher education policy, including a theoretical framework for understanding the political significance of universities positioned between supranational and national agendas. The project places Danish research at the forefront of the field through the first major international comparative study of neo-nationalism and its impact on higher education policy. Finally, the project 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.