Master Jens Jungblut
Title of dissertation:
Party Politics in Higher Education Policy - Partisan Preferances, Coalition Positions and Higher Education Poiicy in Western Europe.
Higher education underwent numerous changes in recent decades that have made it more prominent, on its own as well when it comes to its relevance and importance for other policy areas (e.g. economy, environment, energy). As a consequence, it is becoming a policy area that is of increasing political interest. This implies that political parties in parliamentary democracies are becoming more interested in higher education as a policy issue while they are also becoming more actively involved in higher education policy-making, in particular in comparison to the traditional policy-making approach in this area that relies more on bureaucracy, the involvement of experts or organised interests.
Political parties are the central partisan actors in parliamentary democracies, and their preferences potentially have a privileged role in policy-making in general and formulation of policy in particular. Given the aforementioned changes, with regard to salience and the politicisation of higher education, including political parties in higher education policy analysis might be necessary if one wants to do justice to contemporary dynamics in this area. This is not to assume that other actors do not matter in this process, but rather that a party perspective on higher education policy-making can be a valuable addition, as it allows the partisan political dynamics behind policy changes to be captured. This is particularly relevant given that academic knowledge on the role of parties for higher education policy is limited, and a party-political perspective is largely missing from the toolkit of higher education policy analysis. Additionally, most higher education policy studies begin their analysis at a point at which a government is already in place and such studies ignore the preceding negotiations about the government’s agenda. Thus, to increase the knowledge base on higher education policy and to respond to the recent changes in this area, it is necessary to investigate whether a theoretical framework that links parties and their preferences to policy-making, adapted to the specificities of higher education policy, can provide valuable insights for higher education policy studies.