Category: Higher Education News

National systems for student fees and support systems in Europe – Eurydice report

Eurydice has published a report that looks into student fees and support systems across Europe for 2016/2017 study year. The report provides an overview of key developments in Europe in this area, as well as more detailed national case studies.

Tuition fees and student support are a national issue, but under EU legislation, countries must accept other EU national on same terms as own nationals. However, behind this main logic the content of student fees and student support includes a multitude of practices. Furthermore, the report highlights that there is a significant difference in the amount of public funding provided (see also EUAs Public Funding Observatory for more information).

The data shows that there are four countries with no fees for students, and twelve countries that have universal fees. The report also analyses the relationship between fees and support, arguing that relationship to be crucial in understanding the reality students are facing. Countries are divided into four specific types, distinguishing between high and low (or no) share of fee paying students in the system, and high and low share of those getting grants. 

Conference review: first year with ECPR SG on Politics of Higher Education, Research, and Innovation

Earlier this year, the SG on Politics of Higher Education, Research and Innovation was established. Thus, this year marked the first ECPR conference, where the section on knowledge politics was explicitly backed by a standing group. This marks an important milestone for higher education, research and innovation themes at ECPR. Thus, we asked Meng-Hsuan Chou and Mitchell Young – two of the three convenors of the standing group about what they thought about his years section “Politics of Higher Education, Research, and Innovation”, and what their plans are for next year.

How would you characterise the section this year?

Dr. Meng-Hsuan Chou

Dr. Meng-Hsuan Chou (NTU Singapore)

Hsuan: The section is becoming increasingly diverse with more contributions from those who are joining the section for the first time. This is fantastic! The mix of continuity and new additions is very refreshing. I also enjoyed listening to presentations on very contemporary issues (e.g. refugee flows and receptions by universities in Europe); these presentations demonstrate the salience of the research we do in this section.

Mitchell: The section this year had a strong conceptual element, with a number of panels that addressed theory and methodology. At the same time we did not miss out on empirical studies, which covered a wide swath of both the politics of research and higher education.

What was the highlight for you with this years’ section? 

New website launched for the European Tertiary Education Register

eterETER (European Tertiary Education Register) has launched a new website. ETER was first launched s a result of a European Commission funded project EUMIDA (2009-2011). View a presentation of ETER here.

Currently, the database includes 2785 higher education institutions in 36 countries. Of these, there is data for 2465 institutions. The data currently includes information from 2011, 2012 and 2013. Data for 2014 is expected to be ready by early 2017.

The new website features more advanced data searching and analysis tools, as well as options for downloading data.

View the website here


U-multirank is growing

umultirankEarlier this month, the third U-Multirank was launched. In 2016/2017 edition U-Multirank is larger than ever, with 1300 institutions from 90 countries, and 13 subject areas compared with over 10700 study programmes covered. The idea of U-Multirank is to provide a multidimensional ranking, where it is possible to examine universities, according to results in the following areas: research performance, teaching and learning, knowledge transfer, international orientation and regional engagement. In total, 31 performance indicators are covered.

The main results show that there are different dynamics on different indicators. While in research performance/reputation, the “usual suspects” that dominate many of the one-dimensional rankings are also in the top, in the indicators with teaching and learning the picture is more complex. For teaching and learning, U-Multirank includes a survey of 105 000 students world wide at participating institutions. The 20 universities that obtained the highest satisfaction levels are from 9 different countries. In the press release, Dr. Frans van Vught and Dr Frank Ziegele who lead the project comment on this:The opinions of current students are – and should be – influential in helping tomorrow’s students decide where to study. Students want to find the university that’s best for them, according to their own preferences, and often look to their peers to learn from their experiences, especially in an area like learning and teaching where no one knows better than the students themselves.”  

High levels of employability for Erasmus Mundus graduates

Erasmus MundusErasmus Mundus was launched in 2004 as an initiative to boost joint degrees on Master level in Europe. In 2013, the programme was merged into Erasmus+. Every year, the Erasmus Mundus Students and Alumni Association carries out a Graduate Impact Survey. The most recent issue shows high levels of employability and high levels of satisfaction among the graduates.

The survey data shows that over 90% of the graduates are satisfied with the quality of the master programmes, a figure that has been consistently high throughout the Erasmus Mundus initiative (in 2009, 89% reported being satisfied). At the same time, the data shows also that the scholarships are viewed as a stronger motivation than the academic quality of the courses, when graduates evaluate their reasons for choosing an Erasmus Mundus course. At the same time, reputation of Erasmus Mundus has been consistently growing, whereas the number of students reporting scholarship as the main motivation has decreased since 2009.

The main aspects that graduates were not satisfied with was that there was a lack of contacts created with future employers. This would suggest that students are conscious about their future career. At the same time, about 60% of the graduates have obtained a job less 2 months after graduation.

The survey highlights that according to students and graduates, the main impact of Erasmus Mundus is in enhancing intercultural skills, whereas career and subject related expertise are rated as second and third impact. A share of the graduates also stay in Europe. While 17,8% have EU as their country of origin, over half of the graduates remain in the EU after graduation.

Read the survey summary here. 

ECPR standing group: Politics of Higher Education, Research and Innovation

Recently, the European Consortium of Political Research approved the application on establishing a new Standing Group for Politics of Higher Education, Research and Innovation. We have asked Meng-Hsuan Chou (Nanyang Technological University – NTU, one of the convenors of the SG) and Jens Jungblut (INCHER, Kassel, a member of the steering group) about their thoughts about the new standing group and the importance of this development.

What was the main rationale for establishing the SG?

Dr. Meng Hsuan Chou

Dr. Meng-Hsuan Chou (Nanyang Technological University)

Meng-Hsuan Chou: “The ECPR Standing Group on the Politics of Higher Education, Research, and Innovation builds on the work that network members have done within the framework of the UACES CRN on the European Research Area. We wish to consolidate and expand the excellent collaboration we have had and the CRN’s past and on-going success with organising a section at the ECPR General Sessions points to the Standing Group as a great platform for our continuation.”

Jens Jungblut highlights also the increasing relevance of the topic in global policy debates: “As higher education, research and innovation policies are becoming more relevant for contemporary societies and also more politically salient, we felt that there is a need for greater attention to this in political science sometimes neglected policy area. Furthermore, we felt that this policy area has characteristics that make it an interesting case for many different conceptual and methodological approaches.”

Jens Jungblut  (INCHER, Kassel)

Jens Jungblut
(INCHER, Kassel)

What are your main expectations for the SG?

Jens Jungblut highlights the potential added value of cross-disciplinary interactions: “The aim is to grow and connect a community of scholars with differing backgrounds that come together in the Standing Group with their diverse approaches to enhance scholarship both subject specific but also in more general terms. The overall hope is that this will lead to intensified collaborations with regard to publications and joint research projects.”

Adding to this, Meng-Hsuan Chou emphasizes the cumulative work building on existing ERA-CRN network: “We expect the Standing Group to provide the same collaborative opportunities as the UACES CRN had offered for the past three years (2013-2016). We are especially keen to promote the research findings of Standing Group members to a wider academic and policy audience within and beyond Europe.”

EAIE report: Strategic partnerships in Europe

70385492-eaieLOGOEAIE has compiled a report examining strategic partnerships in Europe, a topic that has gained attention in European policy debates. The report is based on an EAIE survey “The EAIE Barometer: Internationalisation in Europe”.

The survey was sent out to EAIE members and beyond, yielding 2411 responses in total. Just over 2000 of these came from about 1500 European higher education institutions. One of the findings from the survey was that international strategic partnerships have been on the rise in recent years, 79% of the respondents in the survey had indicated that partnerships were an element of internationalization strategies. The current report examines the survey data that concerns strategic partnerships.

In this context, strategic partnerships are in the report defined as concrete agreements that are continuous, that is that they “encourage durable collaboration between institutions and organisations by building sustainable academic networks, strengthening exchanges among students and staff, and enhancing exchanges of knowledge and practices” (p.5).

Report: Public funding of education in Europe

eaceabudgetreportLast month, EACEA published a new report examining funding of education in European countries. The report provides analysis of public educational budgets across Europe to identify changes between 2014 and 2015.

While the data is not very detailed, it presents a general overview of planned budgets, both by type of expenditure and level of education it is used for. Thus, it can give a broad insight to whether public higher education budgets in Europe have changed, and if this is the case whether they have decreased or increased.

The report shows that there is considerable variation with respect to the planned budgets and changes from 2014 to 2015. In seven countries, there has been an increase of total funding for education by more than 5%, including countries like Sweden, Spain, Latvia, Malta, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania. Overall, the report highlights that more than half of the countries increased the budget with more than 1%. In this calculation, the prices were held constant on 2014 level. On the other side, three countries decreased their budgets with more than 5%, including Greece, Slovenia and the UK (NI).

You can download the whole report here


Tuning project in Africa

tuning africaTuning Africa

Tuning Africa was launched as a cooperation project between the EU and African Union. Following the 2007 Joint Strategy, a process was initiated to create more compatible structures and systems of higher education across the African continent.

Phase I had its aims to create a “collaborative, consultative process involving academics working in subject groups with employers and other stakeholders in curriculum development to enhance student competences”. The first phase period was 18 months, and 5 subject areas were in focus.The project has now entered Phase II where additional subject area will be examined, among others also higher education management. In October 2015, the first general meeting as held, collecting participants from over 100 universities in 42 African countries.

The “Tuning” methodology originates from Europe, and was initiated in 2000 as a process to follow up the objectives of the Bologna Process and Lisbon Strategy. The aim is to create cross-national points of reference and common understanding in specific subject area levels.

Developing a post-graduate programme in Higher Education Management

As part of the Tuning and Harmonization of HE Initiative supported by the African Union and European Commission there is a process to develop a Post-Graduate Programme in Higher Education Management. The developers are kindly inviting friends and colleagues in this forum to participate in a survey that involves students, academics, employers and graduates interested/concerned in HE to provide their opinions on the proposed generic and specific competencies for the Programme.

If you wish to contribute to the development of the programme, view the survey here. The survey takes approximately 20 mins. 

Consultation of EUs new modernisation agenda for higher education

Flag_of_Europe.svgIn the end of 2015, the European Union announced a new consultation in their plans for a new modernisation agenda.

The consultation is carried out in the form an online questionnaire and focuses on the following aspects:

  1. the current strengths and weaknesses of higher education in the EU
  2. the priority areas where those in charge of higher education should focus their attention and
  3. how you think the EU should support efforts to improve higher education.

The target audience is wide, including students, higher education institution staff and researchers, social partner organisations representing employers and workers, governmental bodies, relevant associations, and umbrella organisations. Read more here.

The consultation will be open until 29th of February and summaries of the views received can be expected about a month after that.