Academic journal article Journal of New Approaches in Educational Research

The Spectre of Educational Policy Spreads throughout Europe. Its Presence as a Discipline in Postgraduate Education

Academic journal article Journal of New Approaches in Educational Research

The Spectre of Educational Policy Spreads throughout Europe. Its Presence as a Discipline in Postgraduate Education

Article excerpt

1 OVERVIEW

A specter is haunting Europe. We are turning to the metaphor used by Karl Marx (Die Frübschriften, Stuttgart, 1953) ready to verify some aspects of the anatomy of the educational policy ghost and to understand its itinerary. Will it be a failed attempt - ab initio- and a bold act pretending to outline the circumstantial keys to the different ways of understanding, teaching and practicing educational policy in the European context, as we intend to do in this study? Where does its special appeal lie?

In little over a decade, the Bologna Process has stimulated a shift in European universities, which is defined by its special concern about the formation of the new citizens. We are witnessing unforseen changes in the main hallmarks that define university education in its practical, discursive and sociopolitical dimensions (Nóvoa & Lawn, 2002; Jiménez & Palmero, 2007; Santos Rego, 2005).

Indeed, the implementation of the European Higher Education Area has led to a revision of university policies, and it is paying greater attention to objectives such as the rise of higher education competitiveness and the reinforcement of social cohesion in Europe (ENQA, 2009; Rauret, 2004). Among its implications, some of them not without criticism, we are particularly concerned with the changes that the progressive implementation of quality systems (EFQM, 2012) have caused in the academic offer. It is surprising how degree verification procedures have raised to the 'categoric imperative' level the inclusion into their processing of comparative data on similar qualifications and disciplines in other countries. The preliminary and preceptive favorable reports for the implementation of new academic offer depend to a great extent on these comparative data. A comparison with similar experiences is an unquestionable requirement for any teacher interested in the verification of university degrees, masters or doctorate programmes, which breaks traditional patterns in the sociogenesis of the academic offer as it involves a transnational and comparative approach.

Also, drawing the attention to educational policy becomes even more important for two reasons. On the one hand, we are dealing with a value-laden normative discipline, which requires a meticulous delimitation of its object and method. On the other hand, we are contributing to vindicate a public value and a recognized status that educational policy is yet to have. Its episteme and praxis are partly excluded from the decision- making process due to the distrust that a body of knowledge which is not yet considered to be definitely legitimated arises.

Some of these relevant issues have been discussed and have been the focus of research attention has been in the European context (Educational Policy Seminar, University of Valencia, Spain; http://www.uv.es/seminario-politica-educacion) and Latin America (Latin American Conference on Epistemological Studies in Educational Policy, Argentina, 2012; http://www.relepe.org/index.php/jornadas)

2 MATERIALS AND METHODS

Our objectives are defined through the intellectual practice of delving into the original sources. In order to structure our research we carried out an Internet search of academic offers, and we later contrasted the information gathered through telematic contacts and personal visits. This allowed us to gather the data on the presence of educational policy in master's and doctoral degrees, as well as its orientation and incidence in the general education program. Even though the data cannot be considered to be comprehensive, the information gathered may be sufficient to interpret the disciplinary configuration of educational policy.

The data analysed can be divided into two main blocks: a) One including all the institutional data, such as the type of university, strategic plan and degree specifications; b) A second one including the pedagogical and disciplinary information on curricula, modules, subjects, programmes and credits of the specific academic offers on educational policy. …

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