A Model for the Regionalization of Higher Education: The Role and Contribution of Tuning

Jane Knight


A notable evolution in the internationalization of higher education in the last decade has been the increasing emphasis on regional level collaboration and reform initiatives. The purpose of this paper is to examine the process of regionalization through the lens of a conceptual model and to demonstrate how different Tuning initiatives serve as useful instruments in the application of the model, and the ultimate realization of higher education regionalization. The evolving nature and meaning of region and regionalization are explored in the first section of the paper. This leads to an analysis and conceptual mapping of the many terms used to describe the phenomenon. The proposed model is based on three distinct but complementary approaches; Functional, Organizational and Political Approaches (FOPA). The three approaches are inter-related. The model is generic in concept and purpose so that it can apply to the evolving process of higher education regionalization in different parts of the world. The article examines how the initiatives and implications of the Tuning process are directly related to the model and consequently make important contributions to the regionalization of higher education in all regions of the world.


regionalization; system alignment; curriculum convergence; credit systems; qualification frameworks; organizational; functional; political; African Union; Latin America; Bologna; Europe; Central Asia


African Union. “Harmonization of Higher Education Programmes in Africa: A Strategy for the African Union: Summary Report.” Addis Ababa: Meeting of the Bureau of the Conference of Ministers of Education of the African Union (COMEDAF II+), African Union, 2007.

Alarcon, Francisco. “Vinculando Tuning a las Políticas Nacionales, Subregionales y Regionales: La Experiencia de América Central.” Presentation of 4th Tuning Project Meeting in Brussels. Tuning America Latina, 2012. http://www.tuningal.org/es/publicaciones/cat_view/44-presentaciones-reunion-bruselas-19-22-nov-2012. 19 January 2013.

Aphijanyathan, R. “A Research Report on East Asian Internationalization of Higher Education: A Key to Regional Integration.” Program Report 24. Bangkok: Regional Centre for Higher Education and Development, South East Ministers of Education Organization, 2010.

Beneitone, Pablo, Cesar Esquetini, Julia González, Maida Marty Maleta, Gabriela Siufi, Robert Wagenaar, Cesar Esquetini, et al. “Reflections on and Outlook on Higher Education in Latin America —Final Report Tuning Latin America Project 2004-2007.” University of Deusto and University of Groningen, 2007. http://www.unideusto.org/tuningeu/images/stories/Publications/Tuning_A_Latina_INGL_PR2.pdf. 18 January 2013.

González, Julia, and Robert Wagenaar. “Universities’ Contribution to the Bologna Process. An Introduction.” University of Deusto, 2008. http://www.unideusto.org/tuningeu/images/stories/Publications/ENGLISH_BROCHURE_FOR_WEBSITE.pdf. 19 January 2013.

Gorga, Adriana. “Where Are We with the Harmonization of European Higher Education? The Case of Central and East European Countries.” European Education 39, no. 4 (2008): 58-68.

Hettne, Björn. “Beyond the New Regionalism.” New Political Economy 10, no. 4 (2005): 543-71.

Hoosen, Sarah, Neil Butcher, and Beatrice Khamati Njenga. “Harmonization of Higher Education Programmes: A Strategy for the African Union.” African Integration Review 3, no. 1 (2009): 1-36.

Knight, Jane. “A Conceptual Framework for the Regionalization of Higher Education: Application to Asia.” In Higher Education Regionalization in Asia Pacific. Implications for Governance, Citizenship and University Transformation, edited by John N. Hawkins, Ka Ho Mok and Deane E. Neubauer. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

_____. Higher Education in Turmoil: The Changing World of Internationalization. Global Perspectives on Higher Education, V. 13. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, 2008.

_____. “New Developments and Unintended Consequences: Whither Thou Goest, Internationalization?”. In Higher Education on the Move: New Developments in Global Mobility, edited by Rajika Bhandari and Shepherd Laughlin. Global Education Research Reports, 113-25. New York: Institute for International Education, 2009.

_____. “Towards African Higher Education Regionalization and Harmonization: Functional, Organizational and Political Approaches.” In The Development of Higher Education in Africa: Prospects and Challenges, edited by Alexander W. Wiseman and C. Wolhuter. International Perspectives on Education and Society Series. UK: Emerald Publishing, 2013.

Kuroda, Kazuo, and D. Passarelli, eds. Higher Education and Asian Regional Integration Symposium Report. Tokyo: Global Institute for Asian Regional Integration, Waseda University, 2009.

Njenga, Beatrice. “Tuning Approach for Harmonisation of Higher Education in Africa.” Presentation of 4th Tuning Project Meeting in Brussels. Tuning Latin America, 2012. http://www.tuningal.org/es/publicaciones/cat_view/44-presentaciones-reunion-bruselas-19-22-nov-2012. 19 January 2012.

Robertson, Susan. “Europe/Asia Regionalism, Higher Education and the Productions of World Order “. Policy Futures in Education 6, no. 6 (2008): 718-29.

Robledo, R., and A. Caillon. “Regional Processes in Higher Education. The University Course Accreditation Mechanisms in the MERCOSUR and Regional Recognition of Diplomas and the Quality of Training.” Journal of Higher Education and Society 14, no. 1 (2009): 73-98.

Tauch, Christian. “The Bologna Process: State of Implementation and External Dimension.” In Opening up to the Wider World: The External Dimension of the Bologna Process, edited by F. Muche. ACA Papers on International Cooperation in Education, 23-29. Bonn: Lemmens, 2005.

Terada, Takashi. “Constructing an ‘East Asian’ Concept and Growing Regional Identity: From EAEC to ASEAN+3.” The Pacific Review 16, no. 22 (2003): 51-277.

Tuning Africa Project (Tuning Africa). “Feasibility Study into the Relevance of a Tuning Approach for Higher Education in Africa. Final Report.” 2011. http://www.tuningafrica.org/documentos/Final_report_EDITADO_VERSION_FINAL_30062011.pdf. 21 January 2013.

Tuning Latin America Project (Tuning Latin America). “Objectives Tuning Latin America.” 2011. http://www.tuningal.org/en/tuning-project/objetives. 18

January 2013.

Vayrynen, Raimo. “Regionalism: Old and New.” International Studies Review 5, no. 1 (2003): 25-51.

Verger, Antoni, and Javier P. Hermo. “The Governance of Higher Education Regionalisation: Comparative Analysis of the Bologna Process and MERCOSUR-Educativo.” Globalisation, Societies and Education 8, no. 1 (2010): 105-20

Wagenaar, Robert. “Tuning Educational Structures around the World. An Overview of the Developments in Different Regions.” Presentation of 4th Tuning Project Meeting in Brussels. Tuning Latin America, 2012. http://www.tuningal.org/es/publicaciones/cat_view/44-presentaciones-reunion-bruselas-19-22-nov-2012. 19 January 2013.

Woldetensai, Yohannes. Regional Harmonization of Higher Education for Africa: Background Document. Accra: Association of African Universities, 2009. Yavaprabhas, Supachai. “Experiences of Asian Higher Education Frameworks and Their Implication for the Future.” GIARI Working Paper 2008-E.19. Tokyo: Waseda University, 2009.

_____. “Regional Harmonization of Higher Education in Asean.” Paper presented at the 2010 Global Higher Education Forum, Penang (Malaysia), 2010.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18543/tjhe-1(1)-2013pp105-125


  • There are currently no refbacks.