Higher Education Policy Design and Implementation

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Students on-site
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Course Description: 

The course is open to all CEU faculty and staff

Elective Course

The course provides an introduction to fundamental issues and topics in contemporary higher education policy, with a focus on the design and implementation of higher education policies. It invites students to explore and debate some of the most contested questions in the field: Who should pay for higher education? Is an university education a right or a privilege? Is online education a quality alternative? Who benefits from the internationalisationalization of higher education? Is university research a public good?

Higher education is seen as a particularly contested area of public policy, which has important connections with, and impact on, other fields or policy areas. Higher education policies can foster social integration and economic development, but also reproduce inequalities; help the creation of shared identities, but also contribute to societal divisions; and have as much to do with the production of knowledge as with broader political agendas, tensions and conflicts. 

Using an interdisciplinary perspective, the course offers a systematic overview of the key actors, structures and dynamics in the field of higher education. Policy areas covered in the course include policies related to higher education provision and governance, higher education access policies, funding policies, and policies related to accreditation, quality assurance, and performance measurement.

The course combines theories of the policy process with relevant case studies, in order to bring both the theoretical and practical world of higher education policy closer to students. The course aims to equip students with knowledge and analytical skills that can help them better understand the issues and challenges of present-day higher education systems and how government policies seek to address those.

The course is intended to provide a platform on which further, more specialized, studies in the domain of higher education policy can be built. It also prepares students to pursue a professional career in the governmental or non-governmental sector dealing with educational matters.

Learning Outcomes: 

After the successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • recognize the main actors and policy challenges in contemporary higher education settings; 
  • analyze and explain the dynamics shaping current higher education policies in various contexts; 
  • understand and critically assess how specific higher education policies are designed and implemented; and 
  • participate in work aiming at developing alternative solutions to specific problems or situations facing higher education. 


Students will be assessed based on their performance on the following:

  • Class participation and pre-session assignments                                (20%)
  • Midterm paper                                                                                           (20%)
  • In-class presentation                                                                                 (20%)
  • Final paper                                                                                                  (40%)

Class participation and pre-session assignments: Students are expected to attend all classes and fulfill pre-session assignments as listed in the course schedule. The pre-session assignments include the requirement to read the mandatory readings and be ready to discuss them during the sessions (graduate seminar style). 

Midterm paper: Students must submit a 1,500 words description of a higher education policy, program, or intervention of their choice. The midterm paper should include a review of relevant scholarly or policy literature (based on 5-6 research articles, studies or reports). Students can propose their own topics in discussion with the instructors. 

The deadline for submitting the midterm paper is October 25, 2023

Class presentation: A brief presentation must be prepared to summarize the analysis of the chosen higher education policy, program, or intervention. In the presentation, students must introduce the policy in terms of the actors involved in conceiving it, its characteristics and design, and the process of how it was implemented. Students must not only describe, but also critically assess the design and implementation of the policy that their presentation is focused on.

Final paper: Students must submit a 2,500 words critical assessment of a higher education policy, program, or intervention of their choice. The final paper must combine a revised version of the midterm paper (the first assignment) with a discussion and critical assessment of the implementation of the same policy, program, or intervention. Students also need to incorporate the feedback they got during their class presentation. The deadline for submitting the final paper is January 7, 2024


There are no prerequisites for this course.


  • Class participation (20 hours)

  • Pre-session assignments, including readings (18 hours) 

  • Group activity (4 hours)  

  • Midterm paper (20 hours) 

  • Class presentation (12 hours) 

  • Final paper (32 hours)