Tag: Europe of Knowledge

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.




Guest blogger: The Bologna Process and its withering political salience

Jens Jungblut (UiO), Martina Vukasovic (UGent), Mari Elken (NIFU)

Jens Jungblut (UiO), Martina Vukasovic (UGent), Mari Elken (NIFU)

In this post, Jens Jungblut, Martina Vukasovic and Mari Elken examine the developments in the Bologna Process. In particular, focus is on the participation at the ministerial conferences and what these can tell us about the state of the Bologna Process.

Jens Jungblut works at the University of Oslo as a researcher and is a member of the ExCID research group, Martina Vukasovic is a post-doctoral researcher at CHEGG in Ghent University and Mari Elken is a researcher at NIFU. 

The ninth and latest ministerial conference of the Bologna Process earlier this year in Yerevan was one of these events where the European higher education community likes to celebrate itself for all of its achievements during the last 17 years of close policy coordination. This positive assessment was shared by most of the press reports that followed the meeting. Anne Corbett, for example, reported in the Times Higher Education that contrary to the “conventional wisdom” that the Bologna Process is no longer of interest for ministers and is left to technocrats and stakeholder organizations, the meeting in Yerevan was characterized by deft ministerial diplomacy, especially with regard to the admission of Belarus into the process.

This optimistic evaluation of the ministerial conference in specific and the political salience of the Bologna Process in general is somewhat contradicted by some of the reports that the different stakeholder organizations presented in Yerevan. While EUA’s TRENDS 2015 report  diplomatically highlights a growing importance of national policy-making in comparison to European-wide initiatives, ESU’s Bologna With Student Eyes 2015  openly warns about a growing lack of interest on the side of the national governments in the European Higher Education Area.




Guest blogger: New Horizons in the Europe of Knowledge

Dr. Meng-Hsuan Chou and Dr. Inga Ulnicane-Ozolina

Dr. Meng-Hsuan Chou and Dr. Inga Ulnicane-Ozolina

In this entry we feature two guests. Inga Ulnicane and Meng-Hsuan Chou are guest editors of the special issue ‘New Horizons in the Europe of Knowledge’. Dr. Inga Ulnicane is Assistant Professor at the Institute for European Integration Research, University of Vienna, Austria. Dr. Meng-Hsuan Chou is Nanyang Assistant Professor in Public Policy and Global Affairs at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

What are the boundaries of the Europe of Knowledge? Does a specific conceptualisation of scientific excellence lead to a more divided Europe of Knowledge? How are diverse aims of research policy such as economic competitiveness, societal relevance and research excellence reconciled? Do universities increasingly behave like private companies? These are some of the key questions addressed in a recent special issue ‘New Horizons in the Europe of Knowledge’ published in Journal of Contemporary European Research.

The six research articles, two commentaries, three book reviews and an editorial in this special issue explore major topics in European research and higher education policies. Most contributions have been presented at conference panels organised by the Academic Association of Contemporary European Studies (UACES) collaborative research network on European Research Area (ERA CRN) in 2013. This special issue seeks to provide timely insights in knowledge policies, which have played an increasing role on national, supranational and global political agendas.

Changing research and higher education policies in Europe and beyond

In the editorial, Meng-Hsuan Chou and Inga Ulnicane explore the historical expansion of the Europe of Knowledge including both supranational (EU Framework Programmes) as well as intergovernmental (the Bologna Process and research infrastructures such as CERN) initiatives. They demonstrate that the shifting policy, political and geographical boundaries of European knowledge policies include interactions among diverse policy fields, governance levels and world regions.




New EU report: Best systems to promote student mobility in Germany, Belgium, Spain, France and Italy

eurydice reportThe EU has now launched a new mobility scoreboard to create an oversight over member state activities in relation to mobility of students. The Eurydice report published four days ago was a follow up to the 2011 Council Recommendation on mobility and is a product of cooperation with experts from the member states. The scoreboard focuses on five areas which we will briefly summarise below:

  • information and guidance
  • foreign language preparation
  • portability of public grants and loans
  • recognition of learning outcomes
  • and mobility support to students from a low socio-economic background

The data was collected in 2012 and 2013 from a questionnaire developed by Eurydice, member  states and the European Commission. The report covers all EU member states as well as Iceland, Turkey, Liechtenstein and Norway.  Based on selected indicators, scorecards were developed that ranked countries from “green” (best scores) to “red” (worst scores), with a total of six ranks of scores.




Call for Papers: ECPR Europe of Knowledge section

ecprWe are pleased to share with you the following call for papers for the ECPR (European Consortium for Political Research) conference and the Europe of Knowledge section. The conference will take place in Glasgow, 3 – 6 September 2014.

Europe of Knowledge section: The year 2014 is significant for the Europe of Knowledge, marking the long-anticipated delivery and renewal of Europe’s ambition to become the global knowledge leader. Indeed, it is the deadline set for completing the European Research Area (ERA), as well as the official start of Horizon 2020, the main European Union (EU) funding instrument for pure and applied research. Against this backdrop, the third Europe of Knowledge section invites contributions to go beyond the ‘crisis mode’ that has occupied EU studies in recent years and to critically reflect on the evolution of European knowledge cooperation and governance. Specifically, we are interested in theoretical, empirical and comparative contributions that investigate the role of the ‘four I’s’ – ideas, interests, instruments and institutions – in the construction of the Europe of Knowledge. By ‘role’, we refer to the effects that an idea, an actor (individual or organisational), a policy instrument and an institution have on the ‘knowledge area building’ exercise. Our focus on ‘roles’ is to enable a multidisciplinary discussion on whether these factors share defining characteristics across the different knowledge policy domains (i.e. research and higher education). From a research design perspective, this entails conceptualising the ‘four I’s’ as either independent or intervening variables. Individual panels are encouraged to have a mix of papers reflecting the three thematic sectors of this section: higher education, research and science. This section continues to welcome all scholars, theoretical and methodological approaches (e.g. political science, European and EU studies, higher education studies, science and technology studies, international relations and public policy), to critically discuss the reconfiguration of European knowledge systems.

The following panels are issuing calls for papers, please send the following information to the designated contacts before 19 January 2014




Education and Training in Europe 2020 – responses in member states

EUThe European Commission has published a new Eurydice report on the responses to Education 2020 from the EU member states. The report reviews all four key areas relevant to Education 2020 strategy: early school leaving (ESL), higher education, youth employment and vocational education and training (VET) and lifelong learning. The aims of the report are to provide a more cross-case analysis rather than a progress report by individual countries that can instead be  found here.

When it comes to higher education, the core benchmark used is the widely stated 40% of age cohort with tertiary education, and the policy ambitions are closely related to the 2011 Modernisation agenda with two main goals being: increased attainment rates and improvement of quality and relevance of higher education. While improvement is reported across the countries, one is still left with a question what that 40% participation rate means in terms of distribution within countries, and why is such a general benchmark useful in itself. Countries reporting growth or decrease can do that for very various reasons, some of which might be minor corrections or have little relevance for higher education policies. While the report also takes into account the equity and access aspects of widening participation, the report also refers to a recent Eurydice report and states that these are rarely a core element in higher education policies (p.37).

Regarding the quality and relevance, the report is primarily concerned with quality assurance systems, performance based funding, closer links to the industry and employability of graduates, following the core focus of the Modernisation agenda. While certain best-practice cases and initiatives related to these topics are highlighted across these topics, there also appears to be great diversity regarding the focus on these issues and the instruments employed, something to be expected considering the diverse higher education landscape in Europe.




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“.




EUSA fellowships for PhD research related to European integration

eusaThe 2014 EUSA Haas Fund Fellowship Competition has recently been announced. This is an annual fellowship for graduate student EU-related dissertation research (including themes related to Europe of Knowledge!).

The fellowship honoring the memory of the late scholar Ernst B. Haas (1924-2003). They offer one or more unrestricted fellowship of at least $1,500 to support the dissertation research of any graduate student pursuing an EU-related dissertation topic in the academic year 2013-2014. Applicants must:

  • be pursuing the doctoral degree (PhD) at an accredited institution in any country;
  • be writing a dissertation in English;
  • have an EU-related, doctoral dissertation topic approved by the professor who will supervise it; and,
  • be able to demonstrate clearly the relevance to EU studies of the dissertation topic.

For application, you need to submit:

  1. A one-page précis of the project that specifies its relevance to EU Studies and describes how the fellowship would be used;
  2. A CV, and
  3. Ask for two letters of support to be sent directly to EUSA. These letters should be from professors serving on the student’s dissertation committee, and one should be the chair.

The applications should be sent by email to eusa@pitt.edu with the heading “2014 E.B. Haas Fund Fellowship competition.”
The firm deadline for applications to be received in the EUSA office is January 3, 2014.

The successful applicant will be notified in March of 2014, and will receive the grant soon thereafter. The fellowship will be paid in one lump sum by check and in US dollars only.




Erasmus+ now approved in the European Parliament

EUA few days ago, on Tuesday, the European Parliament approved the new Erasmus+ programme and budget for 2014-2020. Erasmus+ represents a new approach by the European Union to approach its various programmes where existing programmes for education, training, youth and sport will be merged into one unified programme with a growing budget that will begin in January 2014.

The budget for the new programme is €14.7 billion which represents a 40% increase in comparison to current budgets. The name follows up on the existing Erasmus programme which is a successful mobility scheme for European higher education students. Erasmus has since its introduction in 1987 been the flagship project for education in the European Union, and in July 2013 the number of Erasmus students reached 3 million.

In the new Erasmus+ programme, existing EU programmes will be merged into one, including the Lifelong Learning Programme (Erasmus, Leonardo da Vinci, Comenius, Grundtvig), Youth in Action and five international cooperation programmes (Erasmus Mundus, Tempus, Alfa, Edulink and the programme for cooperation with industrialised countries). This also represents a more holistic perspective on education promoted by the EU in recent years where there is a clear aim of more policy coordination between various educational sectors but also with relevant adjacent policy areas.

The new programme will provide mobility grants for 4 million individuals, the press release highlighted that this includes 2 million higher education students, 650 000 vocational training students and apprentices, and half a million youth in exchange programmes as well as volunteers. Furthermore, funding will be provided for education and training staff, youth workers and for partnerships between universities, colleges, schools, enterprises, and not-for-profit organisations, following up on existing instruments and programmes.




Resource: EURASHE library

eurasheEURASHE is the European Association of Institutions in Higher Education, its members being institutions that offer professionally oriented programmes.

EURASHE was established in 1990 and has now over 1,400 higher education institutions in 40 countries. 

Did you know that the EURASHE website also includes an extensive library?

The library includes a large variety of documents related to EURASHE – including publications (policy positions, ad-hoc reports, studies, etc), documentation of presentations at events arranged by EURASHE (including various seminars, conferences etc), information about projects EURASHE has participated in, and various other kinds of documents. The library is searchable by keyword or author and includes within document search.

For anyone interested in European policy or professional higher education, the library can provide some valuable insights into the developments in policy positions.

Visit the electronic library here.