Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas:  jgo.e-reviews 7 (2017), 2 Rezensionen online / Im Auftrag des Leibniz-Instituts für Ost- und Südosteuropaforschung in Regensburg herausgegeben von Martin Schulze Wessel und Dietmar Neutatz

Verfasst von: Ljubov’ Žvanko


Universities and Elite Formation in Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe. Ed. by Florian Bieber / Harald Heppner. Wien, Zürich, Münster: LIT, 2015. 320 S., Tab. = Transkulturelle Forschungen an den Österreich-Bibliotheken im Ausland, 11. ISBN: 978-3-643-90615-1.

Table of contents:


In the context of deepening globalization in the modern world, the preservation of national identity remains as an important aspect. Among other things, a national system of education with its specific state features and characteristics is one of the factors that forms national elite. And national elite, in turn, serves as the carrier of progressive knowledge, world outlook and a national system of values. Therefore, the study of historical experience and its impact on contemporary trends in education is an important moment in the awareness of the role and place of universities in this process of nurturing nationally oriented youth.

The book under review Universities and Elite Formation in Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe is devoted to this problem in the countries of Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe. The book, prepared by a team of 19 researchers from Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Kosovo, Moldova, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania, Ukraine and Croatia, came out within the scientific project Transkulturelle Forschungen an den Österreich-Bibliotheken im Ausland. The editors of the publication are Florian Bieber (Professor of Southeastern European history and politics, Director of the Centre for Southeast European Studies at the University in Graz, Austria) and Harald Heppner (Professor of Southeast European history and politics, Director of the Department of history at the University of Graz, Austria).

The purpose of this participatory research, as Florian Bieber and Harald Heppner note in their introduction, is to show a historical and contemporary perspective of the relationship between higher education and government in the countries of Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe. A number of serious case studies are presented to shed light on situation and to determine regional characteristics. Some topics reveal the role of universities and other scientific institutions in the development of national identity, show the importance of transnational academic mobility, the growth of national elites, in time and in space (p. 2).

The publication, according to the goal to be achieved, has a clear structure. The editorial article Universities and Elite Formation in Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe introduces the reader to the theme of the book. 17 authored articles are grouped in four problemic blocks: Higher Education as the Object of Nation-Building, Migration and Knowledge Transfer, Academia and the State, Universities after Communism. First of all, in the introduction, the editors remind us that universities in this part of the continent have emerged as prestigious projects of the newly created states, which until recently had been part of the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires. Therefore, their task was the creation and upbringing of a new elite, who spoke the new state language and represented a new national culture (p. 1). Florian Bieber and Harald Heppner indicate that in the context of the Bologna process education in these countries should be transformed and become part of a single European educational space. But first, it is necessary to take into account national needs – the education of national elites. Secondly, it is necessary to meet European standards and reduce the autonomy of national education. Thirdly, teachers and students should become more mobile in the framework of the Erasmus program (p. 9).

In the first problemic block Higher Education as the Object of Nation-Building, the authors raise issues specific for several historical stages in the countries in this region. Roumian Preshlenovs paper is devoted to the role of Sofia University in the formation of the Bulgarian elite (1878–1918). The researcher argues that due to the policy of the state, education in the Bulgarian society developed from high social status to achieving goals (p. 22). Radu Florian Bruja analyzes the problem of “romanization” of the University in Chernivtsi (Bukovina, Western Ukraine), which had been part of the Habsburg Empire. In the process, an important aspect typical for some countries of the region is considered – the impact of changes in public facilities, caused, mainly, by the international treaties after two world wars, University environment, level of teaching, the attitude to the “old professors” (p. 37). Another regional problem is raised by Gábor Egry on the example of the education of the Hungarian ethnic minority in Romania . The author tries to answer a difficult question, in fact, a dilemma: how to preserve the national feelings of the Hungarian youth, who received their education at Romanian universities.

In the second block Migration and Knowledge Transfer two studies are presented. In the first one, Alissa Tolstokorova considers the issues of the education of Ukrainian women in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in European universities. The author uses the concept of “spatial emancipation of women”, which includes socio-spatial mobility of women as an opportunity to expand their rights to receive education. The latter was instrumental in the formation of an intellectual elite of Ukraine (p. 62). Ranka Gašić makes a comparative analysis of the learning environment of students from Belgrade in London and Berlin, the factors of influence on them as the future elite of Serbia.

In the third block – Academia and the State – six papers devoted to the study of the interaction between government and higher education institutions of Austria-Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Moldova are presented. In particular Alois Kernbauer examines the problems of the Professor Community in the Habsburg Empire, and Aleš Gabrič the impact of domestic and foreign policy of Yugoslavia on personnel changes at Ljubljana University as the leading institution of higher learning in Slovenia, the richest Republic of the federate formation at that time (p. 140).

Alexandra Iancu studies the influence of the Romanian authorities on the educational system and examines the role of a diploma in the life of a nomenclature representative as a means of promotion to higher posts in the party apparatus. Eleonora Naxidou writes about the transformation of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences after the Soviet model during the Communist period, the influence of state ideology on its activities, and current problems of modernization and Europeanization. Adam Hudek explores the problems of the intellectual elite of Slovakia, which considered Stalinism as national enslavement, and the Academy of Sciences of Slovakia in the 70-ies of the last century. Aurelia Felea examines the problem of education in the Moldavian Socialist Republic through the analysis of memoirs of party leaders.

Finally, the fourth block – Universities after Communism – is dedicated to the transformation of universities and the search for a new identity, a complex process interconnected with a military conflict in the breakup of Yugoslavia and the creation of new public entities (Jana Baćević, Danijela Dolenec, Karin Doolan, Mislav Žitko). They also consider the place and role of universities in the formation of societies in post-Communist Romania (Claudia Maria Udrescu) and Hungary (Zoltań Takaćs), and, finally, the role of the University in the newly formed Kosovo (Bekim Baliqi).

The research published in this book is of a high scientific level. It is evidenced by fairly thorough bibliographic references. Also to be mentioned is the fine graphic design and interesting color scheme of the cover.

Thus, the proposed book is a good example of teamwork, with the topic considered in historical perspective until the present. Disparate at first glance, the sections are seamlessly designed together and the reader undoubtedly will look at the picture titled Universities and elite formation in Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe.

Liubov Zhvanko, Kharkiv

Zitierweise: Ljubov’ Žvanko über: Universities and Elite Formation in Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe. Ed. by Florian Bieber and Harald Heppner. Wien, Zürich, Münster: LIT, 2015. 320 S., Tab. = Transkulturelle Forschungen an den Österreich-Bibliotheken im Ausland, 11. ISBN: 978-3-643-90615-1, http://www.dokumente.ios-regensburg.de/JGO/erev/Zvanko_Bieber_Universities_and_Elite_Formation.html (Datum des Seitenbesuchs)

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