The Political Question of Macro-level Efficiency (Rationalization) in Flemish Higher Education 1989-2014

The Belgian and Flemish higher education system has been struggling at least since the fifties of the twentieth century with the question of the so-called rationalization (macro-level efficiency) of the program supply. This PhD research tries to provide a better understanding of the enduring and difficult policy problem of macro-level efficiency in Flemish higher education. More precisely it attempts to answer the question why the Flemish government failed to come up with a solution for the perceived problem of the (lack of) rationalization of programs offered in higher education.

The analytical framework will consist of a combination of a theory of political motivations and classical implementation studies. It will be argued that unilateral government intrusion on the level of academic programs is a case which politicians by nature shy away from and try to resolve without being held responsible. Politicians will handle the problem in distinctive ways which are very different from normal behavior and strategies in political life. This makes the problem even more complicated because politicians are obliged to defend the public interest, although in the Flemish Community they have strong ties with their provincial and municipal constituencies, while higher education institutions aim to maximize their number of academic programs in order to maintain their survival and autonomy.

Researcher involved: Ton van Weel, Jr. (

Promotor: Jürgen Enders (CHEPS – University of Twente)

Co-promotor: Dirk Van Damme (Ghent University)

Supervisor: Harry de Boer (CHEPS – University of Twente)

This research had been made possible with the help of the Flemish Secretariat of Catholic Education (VSKO) / Flemish Union of Catholic University Colleges (VVKHO).

Artikelen door Ton van Weel:

  • Profilering en doelmatigheid van het onderwijsaanbod
  • The idea of one university
  • Programmatie van nieuwe opleidingen
  • Sturing op brede opleidingsgebieden
  • Opleidingsbeëindiging