Tag: EUA

Student Chronicle: Study trip to Brussels 2015 – part 1

As a part of their Master studies at University of Oslo, Hedda students made a study trip to Brussels in end of April. In this post, Kate Belova and Raymond Olufsen write about the experience and highlight some of the knowledge they gained during this study trip. 

On Tuesday April 21st, seven representatives, from the masters’ class of higher education at the university of Oslo, went to the bureaucratic capitol of Europe; the city of Brussels for a four-day visit. On the agenda was a tight program consisting of meetings with different organisations and persons working in the area of higher education within the EU. The purpose for the trip was to give the students a better insight into the field they are studying.


From left to right: Misar and Nirmal from Nepal; Beatrice and Joshua from Ghana; and Kate from Ukraine.

Our group consisted of people from Kenya, Ghana, Nepal, Norway and Ukraine. In many ways our little gang reflected the multicultural society that makes up Brussels. None of us had ever been to Belgium and we were excited to see what the city of Brussels would have in store for us.

Arrival and the first day of meetings

After settling into the apartment we rented, using Airbnb; we went out to familiarise ourselves with the neighbourhood. The apartment was located in Schaerbeek, which is one of the nineteen municipalities that make out the Brussels-Capital Region.

News: The latest Bologna Process communique adopted in Yerevan last week

bolognaLast week, on May 14-15th of 2015 the latest Bologna Process Ministerial Conference and Bologna Policy forum was held in Yerevan, Armenia. The participants of the process met at the event, amongst else to agree upon the most recent communique that sets the agenda for the coming years, and approve new members. At the meeting, Belarus was approved as a member. The approval of Belarus was anticipated, and has been linked to recent geopolitical developments, despite frequent concerns regarding academic freedom in the country.

The 2015 Yerevan conference also marked a shift in main focus. While in 2012 in Bucharest the main topics were the “F-word” (funding) and automatic recognition, there were other themes that were in focus in Yerevan has slowly shifted closer to the core of higher education enterprise – teaching and learning. The Bologna process has arguably had more focus on the structural aspects of higher education systems this far, so one can argue that this shift is a change. One could argue that this is necessary to also create new enthusiasm for the process.

The Yerevan Communique that was adopted highlights  four key priorities, where the quality and relevance of teaching and learning is now set as the “main mission of the EHEA”. In addition to quality, the other two points concern employability and inclusiveness – illustrating how the values in the process have a dual attention on social cohesion while promoting the interests of the labour market as well. While teaching and learning have been put to the forefront, structural reforms remain one of the four key objectives, where degree structure, credits system, quality assurance standards and guidelines, as well as various cooperation in mobility and joint degrees are highlighted as the “foundations of the EHEA”.

In this context, the BFUG has received a task to review and simplify its governance structures. A number of policy measures were also adopted, amongst else the revised version of ESG (European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area), the European Approach for Quality Assurance in Joint Programmes as well as the revised ECTS users guide. It should also be noted that during the conference, a call was made to have more precise instruments to measure implementation.

New EUA report: mergers on the rise in the EU

definemergersThe European University Association (EUA) has published a new report that examines merger processes in 25 higher education systems in Europe. The report is produced for the DEFINE project, in which EUA looks into excellence initiatives, mergers and performance-based funding across Europe – being also described as a “stock-taking exercise” with aims to provide recommendations for policymakers. The project is funded by the EU.

The report maps merger processes across Europe, and is based on questionnaires, focus group discussions and interviews.

What emerges is that there are different kinds of merger processes that can be identified. They distinguish between horizontal and vertical mergers – in principle whether two more or less equal partners merge, or whether smaller units become part of larger institutions. The other dimension highlighted is the comparability of the institutions in terms of their similarity, and the depth of the integration process.

Another central point is that mergers have at least been discussed in the majority of the systems that were examined, suggesting the prominence of the topic in the political agenda in Europe. In total, almost 100 merger cases were identified in the systems identified in the period 2000-2015.

One minute silence against violence

The European University Association (EUA), with support from the European Student Union (ESU) have called higher education institutions, student unions and other organisations across Europe to stand united for one minute silence on Monday 27th of April 2015  (12:00 CET) in remembrance of the 147 students killed at Garissa on 2 April 2015.

The role of education in military conflict and the attacks on educational institutions also led to the adoption of the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack in 2014. Read more here.


Leslie Wilson, the secretary general of EUA commented on this: “While the events in Garissa stand out in their barbarity, we draw attention to the appalling reality that attacks continue to happen every day. Attacks on universities, their students and scholars weaken or obliterate academic freedom; have a devastating impact on research, teaching and access to education; and impair society’s long-term development. Safeguarding the freedom and safety of universities and university communities is therefore vital in ensuring the advancement of knowledge and the cultural and scientific development of humankind.

Join the ESU event here

The European Student Union has also encouraged to support Kenyan Red Cross who has provided help to the survivors and families of the victims. We would also strongly encourage you to consider this.


Job opportunity: Policy officer at EUA (research and innovation)

euaEUA has a job offer for a policy officer in the area of research and innovation. The job is linked to work on strengthening the capacity of universities in research and innovation and their representation at European policy level.

The position involves gathering informationfrom EUA membership and other relevant sources, organisation of meetings and events,building relationships with external partners and providing evidence-based support for policy development. The work relates specifically to the European research and innovation policy context (Horizon 2020, Structural Funds, European Research Area,international research cooperation) and the engagement of universities in this area.

Required qualifications:
– Relevant higher education degree (Masters or Doctorate).
– Preferably with a minimum of 3 years’ relevant professional experience
– Knowledge of research and innovation areas (preferably at European level) and familiarity with the university sector
– Knowledge and experience on information management and preparation of reports
– Demonstrated ability to relate to senior university leaders


News: University rankings as institutional strategy tools?

euaLast week, EUA published a new report on rankings  ‘Rankings in Institutional Strategies and Processes: Impact or Illusion?‘ (RISP) where the project examines in detail how rankings are used for institutional development across Europe. This report directly follows up on two earlier EUA reports on rankings that had primary focus on analyzing the methodology of rankings. Earlier this year, NIFU also published a report on the Nordic countries, where focus was on a comprehensive deconstruction of the rankings to identify what assures success, and to examine the impact of rankings on the leadership of research intensive universities in the Nordic region.

Data for the EUA report was gathered in various forms. An online survey was sent out to all EUA members (about 850). The survey yielded responses from 171 institutions in 39 countries, with a broad coverage of various European countries. 90% of the respondents came from instituions who are part of a ranking. Folloing up on the survey, a total of 48 meetings were conducted through six site visits to understand in more detail how instituions work with rankings, and a roundtable was organised with 25 participants from 18 European countries to create an arena for peer learning and sharing of experiences.

The main conclusion from this project is that rankings indeed do have an effect on institutional behaviour, but that this effect varies. 60% of those who answered in the survey replied that rankings are used in their institutional strategies – but the specific kind of use varied from examining certain indicators to using them in a comprehensive manner. Furthermore, it is highlighted that as many as 39% report that the results of rankings “to inform strategic, organisational, managerial or academic actions, and another third of respondents were planning to do so”. Unsurprisingly, rankings were widely used in marketing, but the respondents had also reported use in “the revision of university policies, the prioritisation of some research areas, recruitment criteria, resource allocation, revision of formal procedures, and the creation of departments or programme”.

New EUA report on public funding of higher education in Europe published last Friday

EUA Public Funding Observatory online tool

EUA Public Funding Observatory online tool

The European University Association (EUA) has published the 2014 analysis from the Public Funding Observatory. The report examines latest developments (2013-2014) regarding public funding of universities in Europe, as well as devlopments since 2008.

The report is based on data that the EUA has been collecting since 2008, the data is reported by National Rectors Conferences. Currently, the report includes 28 countries/regions in Europe. The report highlights some clear patterns in public funding.

For the most recent developments (2013-2014) data is provided for 19 countries. When corrections for inflation are taken into account, it is about as many countries where funding has been increased (7), than those where it has decreased (8) regarding the latest developments. Another 4 countries experience a stable funding situation (+/- 1%). When the change is adjusted for inflation, two countries show increase over 5% – Poland and Portugal. In both countries, public funding until this year has decreased. In Portugal, this is the first increase since 2010.

The decrease has been more than 10% (after adjustment for inflation) in three countries – Greece, Lithuania and United Kingdom. For Greece this is a rather drastic situation as public funding has been almost halved since 2008. The cuts in UK have not been as drastic, but have also shown a clear downward trend since the peak in 2010. For Lithuania, the funding levels have also been decreasing since 2008, and the cut this year was substantial.

Looking at the overall trends between 2008 and 2014, three countries have experienced an increase of public gunding that is between 20 and 40%, this is Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Furthermore, the countries where the increase has been over 5% include Poland, Austria and the Belgium (French community).

Twenty years of EUA Instituional Evaluation Programme

euaThe European University Association (EUA) is celebrating twenty years of their Institutional Evaluation Programme (IEP). The main focus of the programme is to provide external evaluations to institutions, taking into account the specific profiles of the institutions. The programme was started in 1994 and the first evaluations were conducted in universities of Gothenburg, UTrecht and Porto. In these 20 years, about 380 evaluations in 45 countries have been conducted. The set of countries is well beyond Europe, and institutions from Africa, Japan, Latin America and the Middle East have gone through the evaluation.

EUA is celebrating this with a separate publication summarising the key results from these years and outlining some of the background developements. In the foreword, Lothar Zechlin also emphasizes the importance of IEP for the development of quality development practices in European universities. The primary approach to quality evaluation in the programme has followed the “fitness for purpose” approach, as Alicja Bochajczuk argues in the publication. She highlights that the core questions for the evaluations are focused on: What is the institution trying to do? How is the institution trying to do it? How does the institution know it works?
How does the institution change in order to improve?

New report from EUA on quality assurance

euaThe European University Association (EUA) has published a case study report, which in essence is a selection of papers from the 8th European Quality Assurance Forum that took place in November 2013. The publication is edited by: Dan Derricott, Helka Kekäläinen, Maria Kelo, Regitze Sparre Kristensen, Tia Loukkola, Barbara Michalk, Fernando Galán Palomares, Norma Ryan, and Bjørn Stensaker.

The European Quality Assurance Forum is organized by the E4 group (ENQA, ESU, EUA and EURASHE), in 2013 it attracted participants from 50 countries, both academics and administrators, stakeholder and agency representatives as well as researchers.

The publication includes eight chapters, written both by researchers and practitioners. Two chapters focused on specific evaluation processes (Sanchez Chaparro et al; Ullern), and a third one on the implementation of the ESG on institutional level (Westereijden and Kohoutek). Furthermore, issues related on internal quality culture development were examined (Greere and Riley; Froyen et al). Furthermore, two chapters focused on student engagement and involvement first examining the role of students in external evaluators (Zhang) and in terms of conceptualising student engagement (Harrison). Engagement was also viewed from a more professional perspective (Vettori and Loukkola).

You can read the whole publication here.

Conference review: EUA conference ‘Changing Landscapes in Learning and Teaching’

EUAconf We would like to share with you a review from a recent EUA conference that took place early April in Belgium. EUA is the Association of European institutions of higher education and the annual conference includes representatives from EUA members to discuss issues related to higher education in Europe.

This review was originally posted on EUA website and has been re-posted with explicit permission. Note that there is also a link to all the conference presentations in the bottom of the post! 

Around 350 university leaders and representatives from the higher education sector gathered last week (3-4 April) for the EUA Annual Conference, hosted by the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) in Belgium. The theme of this year’s conference was “Changing Landscapes in Learning and Teaching”.Discussions highlighted that the importance of the core university mission of learning and teaching has been rising in recent years, and is likely to grow in the future. Participation in higher education, which has already increased substantially, is set to rise further. In addition, Europe is facing demographic and economic changes, and higher education is expected to play a critical role in lifelong learning.

More diverse student bodies and growing pressure on universities to respond to different economic and societal pressures mean it is likely that universities will need to provide more flexible learning paths and individualised support for learners. Plenary session presentations also demonstrated for example, that diverse student populations provide an opportunity to mix different groups of learners so they benefit from “cross-learning”; there was also discussion of combining traditional research-based learning with practical and experiential learning.