Tag: dropout

Budget cuts and skills mismatches – doom and gloom in European higher education?

Tertiary education attainment  (Source: Monitor for )

Tertiary education attainment
(Source: EU Education and Training Monitor )

Last week, the latest Education and Training Monitor was published by the European Commission, highlighting the impact of budget cuts on European higher education.

The Commission has been calling Member states to focus on “growth friendly expenditure“, including education and training, issuing individual recommendations to 17 countries in July 2013. However, the tendency is that funding available for education and training has been decreasing and budget cuts are a common phenomenon across Europe.

Europe 2020 Strategy has specified a target of 40% of people aged 30-34 holding a higher education degree, and while progress is slow, there has been steady increase towards that number. However, despite the average number looking good, this increase might only lead to more disparity between countries. Clear differences can be identified between countries like Greece and Italy on the one hand, and the likes of Ireland on the other. With successful countries increasing their attainment levels, the gap with the countries not following this increase is only likely to increase.

The Education and Training Monitor further refers to PIAAC results to highlight problems with adult skills and competencies in Europe, and how this would be a serious concern for competitiveness in Europe. The issue is also closely aligned with EU focus on lifelong learning, as the key findings suggest: “Europe is facing a serious skills gap that risks hampering growth and employment in the future“. Furthermore, the ones participating in lifelong learning tend to be the ones who are young and highly educated. This is highlighted as an issue, as: “20% of 16 to 65 year-olds is unable to exceed a basic level of literacy and 24% is unable to do so in numeracy“.

Report: How to assure fair participation in higher education?

reportWPHigher education systems across the world are undergoing substantial expansion, even if the starting point is in many cases substantially different. However, the general expansion trends puts focus on assuring that this widening participation also reaches under-represented groups. How to assure that widening participation also means fair participation?

HEFCE, the Higher Education Funding Council in England, has commissioned a new report that examines six national case studies that detail effective approaches to widening participation strategy and practices. The main goal was to identify “what works”, what are some of the identified good practices. The case studies focus on impact and effectiveness through multiple levels – from system level policies of widening participation to institutional level interventions.

Based on the six cases in Australia, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa and the United States of America (USA) the report examined some common systemic factors that influence access and progression. General educational system structure is also linked to progression to higher education. As expected, system stratification in many cases is linked to the socio-economic conditions of the particular area, and one can identify a concentration of high performing schools in more advantaged areas. Furthermore the report indicates that social class is the key determinant of both success in education and access to higher education. This class division is also seen amongst those who do go to higher education in cases where there is a more stratified higher education system. Students from higher socio-economic background tend to attend highly selective institutions with more research oriented profile, whereas those from lower socio-economic background tend to attend institutions with less prestige and more vocational/professional profile. The report suggests that focus on alternative pathways (for instance, accreditation of prior learning, options to progress to HE from vocational education, etc) can facilitate more diverse student participation.

Hedda podcast: The future of South African youth with Prof. Teboho Moja

Episode 40 of our podcast series features Professor Teboho Moja (New York University). She shares her experiences with a recent CHET project on South African youth that identified that as much as one third of South African youth in the age of 15-24 was outside the labour market as well as educational opportunities – as such being a “social time bomb“. In the interview she reflects on some of the findings of the project and gives some suggestions on the possible ways forward.

You can also listen to the podcast in audio version:

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Teboho Moja has held key positions at several South African universities as well as being appointed the chair of the board of the University of South Africa and she is a member of the board for several international organisations (UNESCO IIEP and World Education Market). She has worked as a policy analyst and was appointed as the Executive Director and Commissioner to the National Commission on Higher Education by President Mandela. Professor Moja has also been a visiting professor in Oslo as well as Tampere for the Hedda Master programme in higher education. Currently, she is a Clinical Professor at New York University.

Her research interests are focused on higher education reform issues in governance and policy, as well as the impact of globalization on higher education and she has authored a number of publications related to these issues as well as topics related to South African educational system and changes since 1994.

See also an earlier Hedda podcast with Professor Teboho Moja on issues related to reform of higher education and changes in South African educational system.