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Partial Horizontal Differentiation in Croatian Higher Education

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Jelena Brankovic

on 21 September 2016

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Transcript of Partial Horizontal Differentiation in Croatian Higher Education

Partial Horizontal Differentiation in Croatian Higher Education
Content of the reforms
1. Introduce non-university (professionally oriented) higher education institutions
2. Abolish (gradually) professional study programmes in universities

to facilitate horizontal differentiation by strengthening the so-called “binary divide”

- cf. Austria, Finland, Serbia, etc.

Broader policy context
At first, as part of broader efforts to ensure regionally-balanced development, but also to improve quality, efficiency and accessibility to higher education

Since 2001, as part of broader higher education reform efforts (i.e. the Bologna Process)
Outcome of the reforms
1. What has been achieved:
Some non-university HEIs have been established
The number of students in professional programmes at universities has somewhat decreased

2. Persisting issues:
Universities still enrol 1/3 of all students in prof. programmes
Study programme provision rather narrow in many regions
Tuition fees in private non-uni. HEIs sometimes higher
Vertical mobility obstacles (e.g. non-uni. HEIs cycle 1
uni. cycle 2)

--> Binary divide – at best – blurred

Why such outcome?
Why (1): Policy content
The reform was never a ‘stand-alone’ one, but always a small part in much larger reform projects that mostly concerned universities

Insufficient attention to policy instruments: too much reliance on legislation, little or no consideration for funding mechanisms

--> Iterative (back-and-forth) policy process
Why (2): Institutional arrangements
Steering: predominantly institutional (professionally dominated), with elements of the market model
Policies reflect the interests of the dominant actor – universities
Choice of instruments also reflect the interests of the dominant actor

Information basis of the reform weak

Absence of systematised evaluation of policy implementation
Why (3): Politics
1. State
Executive: Ministry + ASHE (continuously) ● Legislative: Parliament (when passing/amending laws) ● Judicial: Constitutional Court (2x)

2. Universities
Rector’s Conference ● NCHE ● Temporary structures ● Organisational

3. Non-university HEIs
Council of Polytechnics and Professional Schools ● NCHE ● Temporary structures ● Organisational


BUT! In reality, not that simple!
Penetrated structures
Dominance of the profession/dominant organisations (unis.)  weaker actors have limited influence
Non-university HEIs would want to have larger scope of activities and better market opportunities: BUT, younger, too small, less influence & lower legitimacy in academic matters

The most dominant actor – universities – has continuously opposed the reforms

Being a
de facto
veto player helps universities in maintaining
status quo
By way of conclusion...
Policy process: neither linear nor isolated
Ideas & context are always in flux
--> Iterations are common

Power asymmetry matters
Veto players whose interests are threatened --> More chance of partial implementation/failure
How ideas, institutions and interests shape policy process
Jelena Brankovic & Martina Vukasovic

The chapter is soon to appear in:

J. Huisman, H. de Boer, D. F. Westerheijden, M. Vukasovic, M. Seeber & J. File (Eds.),
Policy Analysis of Structural Reforms in Higher Education: Process and Outcomes
. Palgrave Macmillan.
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