This Festschrift is dedicated to Ulrich Teichler who is celebrating his sixtieth birth day in 2002. Ulrich Teichler has been a central actor in the development of the field of research on higher education in Germany, Europe and beyond. Not only has he dedicated his professional career to studying a large number of higher education topics through national and international research projects. He was also in the fore front of the efforts to strengthen the structure and profile of higher education re search, for example, through his involvement in the establishment of the Consortium of Higher Education Researchers (CHER). In addition, he has contributed to many important scholarly works reflecting on the state of the art and the nature of the field. The conventional wisdom is that working in a university or college makes you an expert on higher education. Consequently, while academics like to do research on every possible topic, they are in general reluctant to examine their own social insti tution. Within the European context Ulrich Teichler is one of the main exceptions to this rule. Already in his student days he has recognised the unique characteristics of higher education institutions and systems, and he understood that special efforts are needed to improve our knowledge on higher education.