While the EHEA has achieved its goal to reduce structural barriers for student and staff mobility, the situation is different when it comes to the realization of the agreed upon promotion of basic values and principles. For example, in a number of EHEA countries the adherence of academic freedom has deteriorated since 2010. In addition, various studies have suggested a decreasing level of political commitment to Europeanisation of higher education in a growing number of countries. Achieving progress in the coming period in this key part of the EHEA’s objectives is difficult also as a result of the problems the overall process of European integration faces. For example, Brexit, the rise of anti-EU political parties and movements, and growing disagreements among EU member states on the key ideas and principles underlying European integration are posing serious challenges for Europe’s way forward in higher education collaboration. In this chapter, we will discuss a number of the challenges facing, directly or indirectly, the EHEA. We will start with a discussion of the importance of the rise of science diplomacy for the EHEA, being a consequence of the growing connection between foreign affairs and the higher education & science policy areas. Next, we will analyse the growing intra-European political tensions, with a number of EHEA countries not adhering to basic European values and principles concerning liberal democracy and open societies. Further, we will examine relevant trends in EU-funded higher education collaboration within the EHEA, with special attention for the European University Initiative. Finally, the discussions and analyses presented in the chapter lead to proposing two complementary EHEA trajectories for the coming period, the first implying a move away from the geographical focus on Europe, the second including only those countries that adhere to promoting academic freedom, institutional autonomy and other basic values and principles. Both trajectories take as a starting-point that the EHEA is in need of fundamental reforms.
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