New study on how Norwegian students make decisions about outward mobility

A new report from NIFU has examined in more detail why Norwegian students choose to go abroad and how they find information about countries and  institutions they would want to study in.

According to most recent OECD Data (Education at a Glance 2016), about 6% of the students in OECD countries are international students, and the ratio of incoming and outgoing students can vary substantially between countries. While studies have examined the motivation of students to go abroad in other contexts (see for example this study for UK), there are few comprehensive studies in the Norwegian context, the last study of this kind being conducted about 15 years ago.  One could argue that Norway is an interesting case for studying outgoing students in a European context. It has traditionally had a large number of outgoing students and a student loan/support system that is favourable for studies abroad, as it also opens for support for tuition fees (up to a limit).

The NIFU study is based on a survey that was the largest of its kind in Norway, covering 5464 students who had obtained support from the State Loan fund to study abroad for a full degree. The survey shows that students are in general rather happy with their choice to study abroad.

The Hungarian Parliament has passed the bill targeting Central European University

Many in the higher education research community have spent the last week following the situation that Central European University is facing in Hungary. In this post, one of Hedda graduates, dr Norbert Sabic who is currently working at CEU, comments on the development.

As brief background, the Central European University is graduate level university in Hungary, founded in 1991 by George Soros. The vision of the university has been to contribute to democratisation in the region, and it is now generally recognized as one of the leading institutions in Central and Eastern Europe when it comes to social sciences, with good results also at the European Research Council. The institution operates as a private institution that is accredited in the US and later also through the Hungarian accreditation system. It has about 1500 students from about 100 countries and its faculty comes from over 30 countries.

On March 28th, the Hungarian Minister of Human Resources who is also responsible for educational issues, Zoltán Balog, presented a new bill to the parliament that directly targets CEU and effecively would close it down due to the new requirements. A BBC article noted that this was an “attack on the CEU is the latest battle in a war against liberalism” that the current prime minister Viktor Orban has been fronting.

The situation with CEU has been covered world wide and has received major criticisms. The European University Association expressed that they were extremely shocked and deeply concerned over this development, and a large number of universities, university leaders, academic associaions, politicians and others have expressed their concerns.

To offer some insights on the recent developments, Dr Norbert Sabic from the Central European University has agreed to share a few brief comments. He is one of the graduates from the joint master programme in higher education (universities in Oslo, Tampere and Aveiro) and later did his PhD in political science at CEU on diversification policies in European higher education. He currently works as Strategic Planning Assistant at the same university. In the following, he shares his insights about the situation and possible ways forward.

Dr. Norbert Sabic (CEU)

For those not well acquainted with the Hungarian context, could you shed some light on the background of why this proposal was put on the table to start with?    

Well, you start with the most difficult question, and I am sure nobody could answer this one. The one thing we can do is speculate about the reasons. The official government argument is also continuously changing. They say there were irregularities in how CEU operated, which a report discovered (the report is publicly available but does not name which university did what, but generally described legal loopholes that foreign universities misuse). So the official argument is that they adopt this law to correct these loopholes. Now the interesting part is that the amendment to the law of HE is written in such a way, that it only affects CEU (hence the name lex CEU) and a couple of institutions which have only very few programs in Hungary. Since then the government didn’t provide any proof of CEU’s misconduct, and the Educational Authority confirmed (upon CEU’s request) that the programs realized by CEU were conducted lawfully.

HEIRRI project is looking for institutions to pilot a course on Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI)

The Associació Catalana d’Universitats Públiques is currently working on the Higher Education in Responsible Research and Innovation (HEIRRI – project, a European Horizon2020 funded project under the call Science for Society. This project aims to promote Responsible Research and Innovation in higher education, and specifically it will provide teaching/training materials in different formats for higher education institutions to integrate into the curriculums of their degrees, or for specific workshops.

Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) is a term used widely in Europe, we are aware that it is not used in other parts of the world, but it basically focuses on six dimensions (there are some additional definitions but the ideas are similar):

  1. Engagement: It implies that societal challenges should be framed on the basis of widely representative social, economic and ethical concerns and common principles on the strength of joint participation of all societal actors – researchers, industry, policymakers and civil society.
  2. Gender Equality: Addresses the underrepresentation of women, indicating that human resources management must be modernized and that the gender dimension should be integrated in the research and innovation content.
  3. Science Education: Faces the challenge to better equip future researchers and other societal actors with the necessary knowledge and tools to fully participate and take responsibility in the research and innovation process.
  4. Open Access: States that RRI must be both transparent and accessible. Free online access should be given to the results of publicly funded research (publications and data).
  5. Ethics: Requires that research and innovation respects fundamental rights and the highest ethical standards in order to ensure increased societal relevance and acceptability of research and innovation outcomes.
  6. Governance: Addresses the responsibility of policymakers to prevent harmful or unethical developments in research and innovation. The latter is a fundamental basis for the development of the rest of the dimensions.

The HEIRRI project calls on higher education institutions from all continents interested in Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) and its integration into the curricula for a pilot test of two of the training programs and materials developed by the HEIRRI project. 

Call for applicants: 5 PhD positions in higher education at INCHER, Germany

Interested in doing a PhD in higher education? INCHER-Kassel has announced 5 PhD positions! Note that the deadline is shortly, already on 15th of March 2017.

The positions are part of a new doctoral training programme, titled: “Changing dynamics of elite production? The role of higher education for career trajectories in different societal fields”. The positions are fully funded over three years.

Applicants are required to have an above average university degree in social sciences or economics and profound competences in empirical research in social science or economics, experience with quantitative and qualitative empirical research are desirable, and the candidates are expected to be able to communicate in English and German. Prior knowledge in relevant research themes and data analysis software are of advantage.

Download the call here for more information and specifications of requirements

The International Centre for Higher Education Research Kassel (INCHER-Kassel) is an interdisciplinary research centre in higher education research. The centre was established in 1978. The centre has four research areas: Students and GraduatesChange of KnowledgeGovernance and OrganizationInnovation and Transfer


Guest bloggers: The Politics of Higher Education Policies. Unravelling the Multi-level, Multi-actor, and Multi-issue dynamics

Dr. Jens Jungblut (INCHER, Kassel)

This guest entry is written by guest editors of a recent special issue in Policy and Society: Meng-Hsuan Chou, Jens Jungblut, Pauline Ravinet, and Martina Vukasovic. They briefly introduce the key focus of the special issue and describe the “three multi-s”.

In this thematic issue of Policy and Society (all contributions are openly accessible), we highlight the multi-level, multi-actor, and multi-issue (the ‘multi-s’) nature of public policy using the case of higher education policies.

We begin with an overview of how the global shift towards knowledge-based economies and societies has placed ‘knowledge’ at the core of contemporary public policy and policymaking. The governance of knowledge, however, is not a neatly contained policy coordination exercise: it requires collaboration across multiple policy sectors that may have previously experienced very little or less interaction. For example, we can think of a (non-exhaustive) list of relevant policy areas to include, such as higher education, research, trade, foreign policy, development, or migration. In our view, higher education policy coordination is thus permeated with respective sectoral concerns, with discussions taking place across distinct policy arenas, sometimes in silos, both inside and outside of formal government channels.

While the above characterization brings forth the multi-issue aspect competing for attention in higher education policy coordination, we suggest that it also points to the presence of multiple actors: state actors from different ministries or agencies, representatives from universities and businesses, other non-state actors (interest groups, stakeholder organizations), as well as users of such coordinative outputs (concerned parents, students, as well as employers). As regular readers of this blog would recognize: the multi-issue and multi-actor features of higher education policy coordination often result in duplication, competition, inconsistencies, clashing priorities, and even potential bureaucratic and political conflict (Braun, 2008; Peters, 2015)—all symptoms of horizontal policy coordination challenges (Gornitzka, 2010).