Introduction: An Interdisciplinary Analysis of the Mission of European Higher Education Institutions and Potential External Constraints

Abstract The aim of this book is to provide an in-depth appreciation of the impact of EU law and policy on the Member States’ higher education institution (HEI) sectors with a particular emphasis on the exposure of research in universities to EU competition law. This introductory chapter delineates the topic, research questions, methods and outline of the book. It then proceeds to explore the historical and theoretical background for studying EU law constraints on HEIs. It will be shown how HEIs moved away from their traditional mission to become more economic in nature. Employing approaches from European integration theory, it will be seen that this can increase the likelihood of potential spill-over from the (economic) provisions of EU law potentially requiring further commodification of HEI activity.

Keywords Tension between the economic and the social in the EU • Mission/idea of higher education institutions • History of universities • Commodification of higher education institutions • European integration theory • Neo-functionalism • Spill-over

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