The politics of the economics of education in the European Union
European Education Research Journal, 9, (3), .
Restricted to Repository staff only
This article critically examines the work of the European Commission sponsored network: The European Expert Network on the Economics of Education (EENEE). The aim is to develop understanding of the reasons why the Economics of Education as a paradigm has been mobilised within the EU’s Education and Training 2010 Work Programme (ETWP) and to explore the implications and impacts of the work of the EENEE network on EU education policy. Drawing on a summary of the paradigm, and critical assessment of policy texts produced by the network, the article examines the strategic opportunities which the paradigm offers the Commission in its attempts to promote reform of the funding of education and training systems. It is argued that the policy documents produced by the Commission drawing on the work of the network which it has set up and strategically managed, demonstrate the intention to promote the Economics of Education as a persuasive economic methodology for education reform. However, in key respects the paradigm has proved unable to gain Member State commitment to pursuing an Economics of Education agenda for reform. The established EU policy on Efficiency and Equity in Education and Training (Council of the European Union, 2006), displays a marked reluctance to frame education and training funding in economic terms while at the same time recognising the importance of pre-school education, the need to reflect on the efficiency and equity implications of tracking and the importance of ongoing reflection on the funding of Higher Education. In conclusion, the article argues that the Commission has mobilised the Economics of Education politically and strategically but that tactical and selective use of an economic evidence base has done more to establish the EU level as a factor in the governance of education and training than to produce effects in terms of the shifting of policy discourse or preference.
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