Tag: autonomy

Thematic week: Scholars at Risk Academic Freedom Monitoring Project – R. Quinn

We continue our thematic week with a recording of a seminar with the director of Scholars ta Risk, Robert Quinn. In the video he introduces the activities of Scholars at Risk Network, their current Academic Freedom Monitoring Project, and answers questions in the QA session.

The recording was done in November 2012 in Oslo at a HEIK guest lecture.

For more information about Scholars at Risk, view also an introductory video produced by Scholars at Risk.

Guest blogger: Different approaches to teacher education policy in Finland and Norway

Hilde Afdal (Østfold University College)

Finland is often cited to be a success story regarding their educational system, not least in measurements such as PISA. So what is so special about Finnish education? Hilde Afdal examines how teacher education policy is organised in Finland in comparison to Norway, and highlights the apolitical, autonomous and research-based nature of the policy processes in Finland. Could this be part of the explanation for their success?

This guest entry is based on a recent article published in ‘Higher Education’, titled ‘Policy Making Processes with respect to Teacher Education in Finland and Norway‘.

It can be argued that teacher education is one of the most politicized higher education programs. The teaching profession has close ties to the state, since it is an important welfare profession and is regarded as crucial for societal development.

The quality and accountability of primary education have relied heavily on teachers’ professional knowledge and skills. With the advent of the 21st century, international testing of students’ learning outcomes has increased. The differences revealed by these tests are one of the main underlying factors for the placement of teacher education and teacher education policy on the international and national policy agendas. Even so, policy making in the area of teacher education can be conducted rather differently.

Usually, policy processes for teacher education are initiated by the state. Who the state decides to involve,  how such processes are steered and by what kind of ‘rules and procedures’ such processes are conducted, will vary from country to country. The rules and procedures for policy making in teacher education determine who is allowed to shape the content of teacher education policy, what kind of experts are consulted, as well as what kind of policy ideology and educational ideology are emphasized and given space.  In addition, how policy is developed and formulated will affect the degree of professional autonomy for teacher education institutions. Finally, policy making must also take a position on what is important knowledge for teachers and what is the best way to organize it.

New working paper published on developments in Swedish higher education

The research group working on higher education at the  Faculty of Education in University of Oslo (HEIK) has recently published a new working paper that is freely available for download.

The paper is by professor Berit Askling from Göteborg University, and it is titled “Integration and/or Diversification: The role of structure in meeting expectations on higher education“.

The paper puts focus on the long term developments of higher education systems, using Sweden as a case. It highlights the evolution of Swedish higher education system from a 50 year perspective and further reflects on the changing nature of higher education in the modern society. A core question in the paper is to what extent markets can be seen as a threat to universities as autonomous institutions, of whether we witnessing a change in the societal pact.

You can read the abstract and download the paper at HEIK website.

Guest blogger: University autonomy in Austria – a review

Philipp Friedrich

This guest entry is written by Hedda master student Philipp Friedrich, who is currently a second year master student at the Hedda Master Programme in Higher Education. Philipp has earlier studied history and political science in University of Vienna in Austria. In the post he examines the recent developments in Austrian higher education regarding institutional autonomy. 

Much has changed in the last ten years since Austrian universities were reformed by the Universities Act 2002. The idea behind this law was to prepare Austrian universities for a global future where a changing environment forces universities to flexibly respond  to new developments and demands, where the international dimension of science becomes more and more important and where funding of education becomes unstable and unpredictable due to public spending cuts. How can the Austrian universities act and succeed under these circumstances? How will they be able to deal with issues like massification, the implementation of the Bologna reform, while simultaneously guaranteeing high quality and performance in research, teaching and learning?  Less political interference, economic benchmarks and university autonomy are seen as a possible solution to these challenges.

The most challenging issue in the recent years has been the massification at Austrian universities, especially through a growing number of foreign students. Austrian universities are attractive for (European) students because they do not increase tuition fees[1] in general and provide free choice and access to higher education. This led partly to very problematic situations and insufficient conditions in research, teaching and learning. Another factor that intensifies this issue is the implementation of the Bologna reform because now the universities have to restructure their study programs – introducing the three-tier-system with bachelor, master and PhD – while simultaneously terminating the old diploma and doctoral programs step by step. So over the years Austrian universities are having multiple burdens because they maintain the new and the old study system.

Guest blogger: Brazilian Higher Education System: the right to develop research

This post is written by Daniel Guerrini who is a PhD candidate in the Graduation program in Sociology at  Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) in Brazil. Currently, he is a visiting researcher at University of Tampere in Finland having received a CAPES Scholarship. His PhD project is focused on the issue of institutional autonomy in Brazil, with using Finland as a contrasting case. In this post he sheds light on the Brazilian higher education system that appears to maintain a rigid and persistent institutional hierarchy in terms of autonomy.

In 2009 Brazil had more than 5 million students enrolled in its higher education system (HES). The majority of these students were enrolled in the private sector, corresponding to 74% of the total.  But there is a big and clear cut inside the system that divides higher education institutions (HEI’s) between those that develop research activities and those that don’t. The ones that develop research have specific funding mechanisms, controlled by academic councils, in addition to enjoying high levels of academic and institutional autonomy.

Taking into account this division, private institutions which develop research activities are responsible for only 29,8% of national enrollments (INEP, 2010), thus being less representative, in the competition between the most prestigious HEI’s. But all HEI’s are subjected to the same Federal law of education (nº 9394, of 1996) and a Presidential Decree (nº 5.773, of 2006). By analyzing them, we can have an overview of how this division in the system operates to better understand some internal particularities of the Brazilian HES.