From the second half of 1996, Italian higher education system has undergone a wide and radical reforming process. The aim of this work is to offer an account of the cultural premises and the institutional processes at the basis of reforming process: its genesis, contents and orientation. The background assumption is that politological approach are often unfit to consider and account such aspects, so that they are taken for granted, or marginalized. Following a new institutional approach, it is possible to include as central aspect, the institutional dimension in which reforming process is embedded. This kind of approach allows to account the actors (individual and collective), their action, the vocabularies and the representations which structure the reform process as well as the social and cultural context in which these aspects take form and orientation.