Modularisation at UCD: an exploration of governance in higher education
Rizvi and Lingard (2010) suggest that there have been shifts in the development and institutional implementation of education policies, as the values promoted by national systems of education are not just established by the policy actors within the nation state but forged through transnational and global entities. In current studies, there are a number of reductionist accounts of global effects on education policy which do not take account of historical context. Drawing on the policy sociology literature, this thesis empirically investigates the policy process at University College Dublin when it modularised its undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. It reviews how supranational processes (including European integration and the work of the OECD) and policy making affected UCD's institutional dynamics and policy production during this process. In documenting and analysing the production of this institutional education policy, evidence suggests that policy is shaped predominantly by local policy actors and global influences situated outside of the nation-state. To explore the influence of macro factors on this policy process, UCD provides an outward-focused case study into this policy process at a micro level. Insight into this process is evidenced by collecting data through textual analysis of policy documents and semi-structured interviewing of 23 key policy actors at UCD and other influential policy agencies. To investigate the ‘black box’ by which power is exerted in this policy process, Bourdieu’s theoretical tools are utilised. Bourdieu’s ‘conceptual triad’ is pervasive in the education policy literature, clarifying why some of these policy practices remain national and localised within the global policy field. The study evidences the effects of globalisation manifest in UCD’s modular policy which responded to both internally generated reform and agencies external to the state. The pursuit and implementation of this policy demonstrates the capacity of non-national political structures, e.g. the EUA, OECD, and Bologna Process, to shape not only national policy (Henry et al., 2001) but also institutional governance and policy. The manifestation of these structures also provide confirmation of governance without government (Rosenau, 1992). This study sustains the suggestion of a global policy field (Lingard, et al., 2005) and demonstrates a resultant reconstitution of the local education policy field.
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