Higher education in the 21st century: an evaluation of the developments in the field of higher education in the United Kingdom and in the Netherlands

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Higher education in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and arguably the rest of Europe, has gone and is going through several major changes in the last three decades. Nowadays, universities in Europe are focusing more on internationalization on the one hand, and adding economic value to their respective national economies on the other. This thesis seeks to explain why the Dutch higher education organization is changing at a slower pace than the British higher education organization. It does so by looking at the developments in the area of higher education in Europe, from the Bologna Process to the Europe 2020 Strategy. Two theories are tested: social constructivism and the norm lifecycle framework developed by Finnemore and Sikkink on the one hand, and the varieties of capitalism approach of Peter Hall and David Soskice on the other hand. This thesis will argue that the norm lifecycle framework is better able to explain why the higher education system in the Netherlands is changing at a slower pace than the higher education system in the United Kingdom. The results of the analysis show that the internalization process has not yet been completed in the Netherlands because the international norm faced a new battle in the domestic arena. The varieties of capitalism approach, as a more heuristic device, is able to explain the nature of the Dutch and British higher education systems, but is unable to explain why the systems are changing and why the Dutch higher education system is slowly converging towards the British system. The varieties of capitalism-approach, on the other hand, cannot easily incorporate the implications of globalization. The norm lifecycle-theory does not have this problem, because it is better able to explain (global) changes.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen