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Éva Szolár: Higher Education Reform and the Bologna Process in Hungary

This paper takes as its starting point the introduction of the Bologna process and examines the two-cycle degree system from a multidimensional and multilevel (European, national, institutional and disciplinary) perspective, concentrating mainly on Hungarian reforms. The research applied the theoretical-analytical frameworks of political science, public policy, sociology and anthropology to the study of higher education and higher education policy. The primary structuring principle is the interpretation of Bologna policies on three different levels of governance and the entire policy process (higher education problem structuring and agenda-setting, policy programming, implementation and evaluation of reform performance) in examining national implementation. The understanding of the dynamics, policy ideas and functioning of national and institutional-disciplinary implementations stands at the centre of the research. Given the complexity of the phenomenon under examination, the research relied on combined methodologies and a variety of methods and sources of data with multiple operationalizations and triangulations (critical multiplism). The Bologna Process in Hungary, as in other participating countries, has served as an umbrella for comprehensive higher education reforms, under which the national actors initiate governance, financing and institutional management reforms. These reform ideas have generated heated debates on institutional arrangements between the various players in the Hungarian arena (e.g. the new roles envisaged for the state and for higher education institutions), the political aspects of Bologna policies (e.g. what is the public good and whose conceptions serve it?), and, narrowly, various policy issues (e.g. optimal institutional configuration, the governing order of the new system, the paradigm shift in curriculum policies, the perspectives of different program types and curricular philosophies etc.). The reform choreography has followed the traditional design, since it was a top-down, technocratic and closed initiative, especially in the agenda-setting and program formulation period. However, participants at the political-administrative level were not long able to protect the concepts from the pressures of various interest groups and higher education organizations, as a result of which content has been altered and the political players have gradually withdrawn. Only the two-cycle degree system has been introduced, in the process of which the traditional perspectives of the academic community on higher education have come to dominate: national and disciplinary particularities have come to the fore, partly eliminating the initial ideas of the change.

MAGYAR PEDAGÓGIA 110. Number 3. 239-263. (2010)

Levelezési cím / Address for correspondence: Szolár Éva, Debreceni Egyetem, Center for Higher Education Research and Development, H–4032, Debrecen, Egyetem tér 1. II/202.


Magyar Tudományos Akadémia