Is there a European university model? New evidence on national path dependence and structural convergence
The issue of diversity and differentiation in higher education has been repeatedly debated in the literature (Meek et al., 1996; Huisman et al., 2007). Based on a large dataset that contains the full census of European higher education institutions, this chapter offers a fresh perspective on the debate using a quantitative approach, allowing a dedicatedly empirical assessment of diversity and differentiation in higher education institutions. For our analysis we use model-based clustering techniques in order to determine the main activity profiles of higher education institutions in Europe. Our main findings suggest that there is a functional divide into higher education institutions (HEIs) in which research and teaching coexist and younger (usually small) education-only organizations. From this perspective, looking at the observable behaviour rather than at the governance structures, the European higher education system seems much less fragmented than often argued. A further important result is that we do not find any empirical support for the existence of other commonly applied and seemingly intuitive classifications, such as the research university. Despite some basic similarities in the European HEI landscape, however, we also find national differences and diversity.