The book examines how four systems of higher education in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia moved from one very specific vision of society to another. It considers this a rare example of social mobilisation on a scale unprecedented in the recent history of the four countries involved. The book is an outcome of a dialogue, conducted in a series of workshops, organised by the Dutch Center for Higher Education Policy Studies. Thus began what turned out to be an intense multi-level dialogue between the four countries themselves on the higher education challenges they face, between participants based in institutions and those working in ministries, and between the four countries and western European higher education policy researchers. In the first phase of the project (1999u00962000) a series of five workshops were held for a core group of some twenty representatives from the four countries. Participants were drawn from people working at senior management levels within universities, and senior representatives of the Ministry of Education and national co-coordinating bodies for higher education. In the second phase of the project (2001u00962002) two further policy workshops were organised as well as national workshops in each of the four countries designed to take the discussions deeper into each system. The book attempts to capture some of the insights that have emerged from this dialogue with the view to contributing to the ongoing policy development and reform process in the four countries. The authors also believe that these insights will be of interest more widely in the region, and particularly to the other six acceding countries in central and eastern Europe. The Center for Higher Education Policy Studies has arranged three workshops for this wider group of 10 countries over the past two years, and hopes that this book will provide further impetus for the broadening and deepening of this dialogue in the crucial years ahead.