The Bologna Process as a New Public Management Tool in Higher Education
This essentially polemical article questions whether the Bologna Process (BP) is necessary (and desirable) in the adaptation of universities to the new social conditions or whether it is a Trojan horse sent out to introduce neo-liberal changes in the field of higher education. First, it addresses the circumstances surrounding the origins of the Bologna Declaration, demonstrating that it enabled the instrumental logic of the marketization and commodification of education to pervade universities traditionally conceived of as cultural institutions of knowledge. It then investigates the eight declared objectives of Bologna and, finally, summarises the consequences that can be firmly established ten years after the event. These include the fact that three of the pillars of the BP can be interpreted as responding to the requirements of neoliberal New Public Management; namely, study structure (flexibility and market-driven profiles), credits (standardization, mobility and effectiveness) and quality assurance (external control). In conclusion, the paper suggests that the BP primarily represents a problem in understanding a situation that displays signs of the radical transformation of the social function of one dimension of societal life - higher education. Although it is clearly an adaptive reaction to the (neoliberal) transformation of society, it has also become part of the ideological games played by certain special-interest groups and, as such, we must make continual attempts to gain a deeper understanding of it.