THE EUROPEAN CONCEPTION OF THE UNIVERSITY KNOWLEDGE WITHIN THE BOLOGNA-INITIATED COMPETENCE-BASED CURRICULUM MODERNISATION: REPERCUSSIONS AT THE NATIONAL POLICY LEVEL IN ESTONIA AND LITHUANIA
Keywords:knowledge economy, European higher education policy, reform, Bologna, university, curriculum knowledge, competence-based curriculum, competence, skill, Lithuania, Estonia.
The European 'knowledge economy' policies and higher education policies and reforms associated with the Bolognian process, as largely driven by efficiency concerns, have continually stressed the failures of European universities to meet efficiency targets. This has provided the justification for a radical European-wide modernisation of the higher education curriculum which has uniformly introduced a competence (outcomes)-based curriculum rationale to all European universities as a strategic device to enhance the efificiency and relevance of the university curriculum. Within the competence-based curriculum rationale, competence has been designated as a major component within the university curriculum, whereas knowledge, traditionally being the main educational category of the university curriculum and a fundamental pillar of the university research, has been increasingy given a scarce mention in the European policy documents dispite the common European policy discourse on the 'knowledge economy' and 'knowledge society' and a new prominence of knowledge that these notions imply. Accordingly, the European assumptions about the nature of the university curriculum knowledge have had significant implications for the way university knowledge and the role of university have been defined at the national policy level in the light of the curriculum change. Thus, it becomes important to examine the explicit and implicit epistemological stances behind the Bologna-initated competence-based curriculum modernisation and their repercussions throughout the national higher education policies. The aim of this paper is to examine the way the European assumptions about the nature of the university curriculum knowledge as implied within the Bologna initiated competence-based curriculum modernisation reverberate throughout the national higher education policies in Estonia and Lithuania. The objectives of this study are to examine the ongoing Bologna-initiated university curriculum modernisation as based on the competence framework and its assumptions about the nature of the university curriculum knowledge and to map the way the European policy assumptions about nature of the university curriculum knowledge as implied within the curriculum modernisation reverberate at the national policy level in Estonia and Lithuania. The research methods served are qualitative research methods, namely, an overview of research literature and a content analysis of the official strategic European policy documents and Estonian and Lithuanian national policy documents. The main results of the study are the following: situating the phenomenon of the competence-based curriculum modernisation within a broader socio-economic and political context and, in doing this, providing the basis for a better understanding of the driving forces generating this curriculum change; discerning the main patterns of the Bologna-initiated higher education curriculum modernisation and its underlying assumptions about the nature of the university curriculum knowledge and the role of universities both at the European and national levels; providing insights about the way the higher education curriculum modernisation has been taken-up at the national policy level in Lithuania and Estonia; revealing the lack and the need for educational arguments as informed by curriculum theory to complement and challenge the currently predominant economic rationale underpinning the higher education curriculum modernisation in Europe.