Bologna reform in Ukraine: learning Europeanisation in the post-Soviet context
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This thesis explores the process of the Bologna reform in the Ukrainian higher education system. Bologna is one of the most well-known and influential European projects for cooperation in the field of higher education. It aims to create an internationally competitive European Higher Education Area (EHEA) through a range of such objectives as the adoption of a system of credits, cycles of study process, diploma supplement, quality assurance, qualifications frameworks, student-centred education, lifelong learning and the promotion of student and faculty mobility. Through an in-depth examination of higher education actors and policy instruments in the case of the implementation of Bologna in Ukraine, this thesis aims to a) analyse the process of the Bologna reform in Ukraine; and b) examine Bologna as a case of Europeanisation in the post-Soviet context. The study is qualitative and applies two main methods: interviews with key policy actors and text analysis of selected policy documents. These data are analysed through the perspective of policy learning, with a particular reference to the concept of layering. The findings suggest that the Bologna reform in Ukraine has been primarily developing as an interrelationship between policy continuity and change. On the one hand, the study found that most of the key powerful actors and networks in the country, established before the introduction of Bologna, have retained their prior influence. As a result, Bologna has – to a large extent – simply reproduced established relationships and pre-existing higher education policies. The Ministry of Education and Science has been the primary actor pushing for this kind of policy continuity. On the other hand, Bologna has also been partially changing some aspects of the old higher education instruments and the established relations among the actors. These changes have been taking place due to the involvement of civil sector organisations which increasingly became crucial as policy brokers in the process of this reform. The study suggests that the old practices and innovations in Bologna have been interacting in layering – a gradual messy and creative build-up of minor innovations by different higher education actors in Ukraine. The accumulation of these innovations led to more fundamental changes – the beginning of the emergence of a more shared higher education policy-making in the previously centrally governed Ukraine. These findings shed some light on the broader process of Europeanisation in the post-Soviet context. The Ukrainian case thus suggests that at least in the post-Soviet context, Europeanisation is the process in which change and the continuity are not mutually exclusive, but rather closely interconnected.