Tag: autonomy

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.




2013 in review – Hedda podcasts and other available seminars and lectures

2013_2We continue our annual review of the yearly entries on the blog. In the first post we looked at the guest entries. In this second post we will focus on the Hedda podcast and varous other audio and video materials. Part three that will be coming up later will focus on Hedda news from 2013

Hedda podcasts in 2013

Our first podcast of 2013 was published in January and was number 37 in our series. We interviewed Dr. Don F. Westerheijden, who is a Senior Research Associate at the Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS) in University of Twente in Netherlands. In the podcast we discussed some developments in quality assurance in the Netherlands, after a large scale public scandal highlighting doubts over quality in a number of Dutch higher education institutions.

In episode 38 of the podcast series, we talked to Drs. Frans Kaiser and Elisabeth Epping about the U-Map project, a large project examining horizontal diversity of higher education institutions in Europe and beyond, and to develop a classification of higher education institutions. The project is currently still in demo-mode, so the podcast will provide you with background information about the project. Drs. Frans Kaiser and Elisabeth Epping both worked at the Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS) in University of Twente in Netherlands.

In our next podcast, we talked to Professor Isa Jahnke about ICT in higher education, where we in particular focused on digital didactics and some of her recent research on working with technology in higher education. Isa Jahnke is a Professor in Interactive Media and Learning (IML) at Department of Applied Educational Science in Umeå University, Sweden.




Hedda podcast: Autonomy of universities with Dr Tatiana Fumasoli

Episode 42 of our podcast series features dr. Tatiana Fumasoli from ARENA, the Centre of European Studies at the University of Oslo. In the podcast she reflects on the issue of autonomy and shares some preliminary and highly interesting findings on a recent project focused on examining how Norwegian and other Western European universities use and interpret autonomy in the context of balancing excellence with socio-economic relevance.


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Tatiana Fumasoli  (ARENA, University of Oslo)

Tatiana Fumasoli
(ARENA, University of Oslo)

Dr. Tatiana Fumasoli is employed as a post-doctoral fellow at ARENA in University of Oslo. She holds a PhD (2011) in Communication Sciences from Università della Svizzera italiana (USI). Her thesis was called ‘Strategy as evolutionary path. Five higher education institutions on the move’. Prior to her PhD she obtained an Executive Master in Communications Manafgement from USI and worked as a researcher at CORe (Centre for Organizational Research) Faculty of Economics at the USI.

She is also a member of the UACES Collaborative Research Network on the European Research Area (ERA-CRN).

Her main research interests are linked to higher education research, management sciences, and organisation theory.




Guest blogger: From Massification to Quality Assurance in Ethiopia

Ayenachew Aseffa Woldegiyorgis

Ayenachew Aseffa Woldegiyorgis

In this guest entry, Ayenachew Aseffa Woldegiyorgis examines recent change of focus in Ethiopian higher education, where after decades of focusing on expansion, concerns of quality have become high on the agenda.

Ayenachew has studied Management and Masters of Public Administration (MPA). For over eight years he has taught at Unity University and Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. Currently he is a student of Masters in Research and Innovation in Higher Education (MARIHE) at Danube University (Austria), University of Tampere (Finland), Beijing Normal University (China) and University of Osnabruck (Germany). 

The past fifteen years are marked by a massive expansion in the Ethiopian higher education (HE). The number of public universities increased from just two by the end of 1990s to 32 in 2013. Total enrollment has increased from 42,132 in 1996/97 to 319,217 in 2010/11 and it is targeted to reach 467,445 by 2014/15 (MOE, 2005; 2010a). Yet, as much as it is hailed for its success in the massification, the government has been equally criticized for immensely neglecting quality. Recently the government has admitted to this  problem and declared that it has redirected its attention from expansion to quality assurance.

Ethiopia’s quality endeavor is now faced with a complicated set of challenges and requires a well thought out, comprehensive strategy and strong commitment. On one hand, the issue of quality has been long neglected implying that the problem has accrued over the years and the reform effort has to begin from almost zero. On the other hand, the very nature of quality assurance in HE is complex and demands multidimensional and concurrent attention on the various determinants. The overall strategy for quality should focus on (but not be limited to) the following major and interdependent challenges, each one of which can be further analyzed in greater detail. 




Hedda podcast: Recent developments in quality assurance in the Netherlands with Dr. D.F. Westerheijden

Episode 37 of our podcast series features dr. Don F. Westerheijden who reflects on recent developments in quality assurance in the Netherlands, after a large scale public scandal highlighting doubts over quality in a number of Dutch higher education institutions.


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Dr. Don F. Westerheijden (CHEPS)

Dr. Don F. Westerheijden
(Photo: CHEPS)

Dr. Don F. Westerheijden is a Senior Research Associate at the Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS) in University of Twente in Netherlands. He obtained his PhD from University of Twente and is now working as a co-ordinator of research related to quality management.

He has published a number of books and journal articles on issues related to quality assurance and has extensive experience in self-evaluation and external quality assessment processes in many countries around the world.  His current research interests are related to institutional and systemic impacts of both internal and external quality assessment procedures, and design of rankings and public information systems for higher education.