Crossing borders in higher education? A comparative case study at the intersections of EU regional and higher education policies
Eastern Journal of European Studies
Even though the European Union's policy for regional development addresses higher education institutions, there is little research on the relationship between EU regional and higher education (HE) policies. To account for the role of EU regional policy instruments such as the European Territorial Cooperation programmes, i.e. Interreg, in fostering EU HE policy, this paper adopts a theoretical framework that unites assumptions of top-down and bottom-up Europeanisation. Two cooperation initiatives, located in the Greater Region and around Lake Constance, reveal the impact of Europeanisation on cross-border cooperation (CBC) among HE institutions. The data of 34 semi-structured interviews conducted with various stakeholders at the locations of the two initiatives and in Brussels demonstrates that Interreg alters actor constellations and interests in cross-border contexts. When conceived as an opportunity structure, Interreg may foster the CBC efforts of HE institutions. Given that Interreg also displays a constraint, HE institutions attempt to contribute to both EU regional and HE policy development.