The Limits of Soft Governance in Harmonization in the European Higher Education Area

Iryna Kushnir


The European Higher Education Area (EHEA) is an intergovernmental voluntary policy initiative to harmonize higher education structures in the EHEA countries. Harmonization in the EHEA is often taken for granted in the literature and discussed as the context of various reforms, which leaves the analysis of the limits of this harmonization under elaborated. This article aims to contribute to the literature about the EHEA by placing higher education harmonization at the centre of analysis and focusing on its limits through a critical review of relevant literature and policy documents. It is argued in this article that although the EHEA contributes to the harmonization of higher education policies of its member states, there are limits to how far this harmonization can go. The limits are largely posed by the soft governance approach that mediates the influence of the national context on the implementation of the reforms. This argument is supported by the discussion of the case of the development of a credit policy in Ukraine.


Soft governance, higher education, harmonization, European Higher Education Area

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