Tag: European HE

Guest bloggers: The Politics of Higher Education Policies. Unravelling the Multi-level, Multi-actor, and Multi-issue dynamics

Dr. Jens Jungblut (INCHER, Kassel)

This guest entry is written by guest editors of a recent special issue in Policy and Society: Meng-Hsuan Chou, Jens Jungblut, Pauline Ravinet, and Martina Vukasovic. They briefly introduce the key focus of the special issue and describe the “three multi-s”.

In this thematic issue of Policy and Society (all contributions are openly accessible), we highlight the multi-level, multi-actor, and multi-issue (the ‘multi-s’) nature of public policy using the case of higher education policies.

We begin with an overview of how the global shift towards knowledge-based economies and societies has placed ‘knowledge’ at the core of contemporary public policy and policymaking. The governance of knowledge, however, is not a neatly contained policy coordination exercise: it requires collaboration across multiple policy sectors that may have previously experienced very little or less interaction. For example, we can think of a (non-exhaustive) list of relevant policy areas to include, such as higher education, research, trade, foreign policy, development, or migration. In our view, higher education policy coordination is thus permeated with respective sectoral concerns, with discussions taking place across distinct policy arenas, sometimes in silos, both inside and outside of formal government channels.

While the above characterization brings forth the multi-issue aspect competing for attention in higher education policy coordination, we suggest that it also points to the presence of multiple actors: state actors from different ministries or agencies, representatives from universities and businesses, other non-state actors (interest groups, stakeholder organizations), as well as users of such coordinative outputs (concerned parents, students, as well as employers). As regular readers of this blog would recognize: the multi-issue and multi-actor features of higher education policy coordination often result in duplication, competition, inconsistencies, clashing priorities, and even potential bureaucratic and political conflict (Braun, 2008; Peters, 2015)—all symptoms of horizontal policy coordination challenges (Gornitzka, 2010).




National systems for student fees and support systems in Europe – Eurydice report

Eurydice has published a report that looks into student fees and support systems across Europe for 2016/2017 study year. The report provides an overview of key developments in Europe in this area, as well as more detailed national case studies.

Tuition fees and student support are a national issue, but under EU legislation, countries must accept other EU national on same terms as own nationals. However, behind this main logic the content of student fees and student support includes a multitude of practices. Furthermore, the report highlights that there is a significant difference in the amount of public funding provided (see also EUAs Public Funding Observatory for more information).

The data shows that there are four countries with no fees for students, and twelve countries that have universal fees. The report also analyses the relationship between fees and support, arguing that relationship to be crucial in understanding the reality students are facing. Countries are divided into four specific types, distinguishing between high and low (or no) share of fee paying students in the system, and high and low share of those getting grants. 




New website launched for the European Tertiary Education Register

eterETER (European Tertiary Education Register) has launched a new website. ETER was first launched s a result of a European Commission funded project EUMIDA (2009-2011). View a presentation of ETER here.

Currently, the database includes 2785 higher education institutions in 36 countries. Of these, there is data for 2465 institutions. The data currently includes information from 2011, 2012 and 2013. Data for 2014 is expected to be ready by early 2017.

The new website features more advanced data searching and analysis tools, as well as options for downloading data.

View the website here

 




Call for papers: Higher education partnership trends and policy issues between African and European higher education institutions

bigsasThe Workgroup “Higher Education and Society in Africa” is organising a conference at Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies (BIGSAS), University of Bayreuth on 3–4 November 2016. The conference is themed: “Higher Education Partnership Trends and Policy Issues between African and European Higher Education Institutions

Trends in institutional partnership in higher education have shown tremendous growth in the past three decades. The conference aims to stimulate academic discussion on trends and key issues in higher education cooperation between European and African universities pointing to pressing important policy and practical issues. Are there patterns of higher education partnership among African and European universities and how do such patterns evolve overtime? What are the current debates on internationalization strategies between Africa and Europe and the circulation of knowledge in individual and institutional partnerships between the continents? Which insights can be drawn from various case studies of higher education partnerships schemes? Read more about the conference theme here (pdf)

The conference is organised around five themes: 

  • Trends in higher education partnership between African and European universities
  • Policy and practical issues on joint programs, student and staff mobility and research collaboration among African and European universities
  • Strategies in higher education partnership and internationalization
  • Case studies on higher education collaboration among African and European universities
  • Practical challenges and opportunities in higher education collaboration among African and European universities – student mobility, join programs, harmonization strategies etc.

Abstracts deadline: 10th of June 2016. 

Read more about how to submit your abstract and the guideliens here. 




News: new edition of ETER launched

eterThe latest edition of ETER was launched earlier this month. ETER stands for the European Tertiary Education Register, and it is a EU-funded project. The main function of the register is to assure comparable data on higher education institutions in Europe. Thematically, the indicators are grouped as institutional descriptors, geographical descriptors, educational activities, research activities, expenditures, staff and various characterization indicators. Some of the available indicators include amongst else an overview of numbers of students, staff, graduates, international doctorates, income and expenditure, legal status, etc.

The project has been two-fold – to identify the relevant indicators where data could be collected, and to collect this data to make them widely and publicly available. So if you are planning to compare higher education institutions in Europe, ETER data might be a useful starting point.

The new dataset includes data from 2012 and the whole list of indicators can be viewed here. In total, the combined 2011/2012 dataset now includes 2293 HEIs in 31 countries in Europe.

View here some of the analysis that has been done on ETER data.

If you wish to use the dataset, it is possible to access it on ETER website.




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.




Hedda podcast: Party politics and political economy of the welfare states

busemeyer8121

Professor M. Busemeyer (University of Konstanz)

Episode 47 of our podcast series features Prof. Marius Busemeyer (University of Konstanz).

In the podcast, he discusses some of the key findings from his recent book “Skills and Inequality. Partisan Politics and the Political Economy of Education Reforms in Western Welfare States”. Summarising key aspects of how skill regimes have developed in europe, he further reflects on what he as a researcher found as the most interesting finding and shares his thoughts on the practical implications of his research.

Listen without the Flashplayer

Prof. Marius Busemeyer is Professor of Political Science at the Department of Politics and Public Administration at University of Konstanz. He received his PhD in political science from University of Heidelberg in 2006. Between 2006 and 2010 he worked at Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne, Germany. He further received his Habilitation in Political science at University of Cologne in 2010. From 2011 he has worked as a professor at University of Konstanz where he is a head of department in Politics and Public administration since 2014. In 2010, he received a grant from German National Science Foundation (DFG) (Emmy-Noether Program) for his work on “The Politics of Education and Training Reform in Western Welfare States”, and in 2012 he received the European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant. His main research interests are in the area of comparative political economy, welfare states, public spending, social democratic parties and theories of institutional change.

 




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.




Guest blogger: Academic work and careers in Europe

Tatiana Fumasoli  (ARENA, University of Oslo)

Tatiana Fumasoli
(ARENA, University of Oslo)

Changing working conditions at European universities are studied in a recent book ‘Academic Work and Careers in Europe – Trends, Challenges, Perspectives’, edited by Tatiana Fumasoli, Gaële Goastellec and Barbara Kehm. In this post, Tatiana Fumasoli tells about the main findings presented in the book.

What have been the rationales and origins of this book?

The book explores the impact of changes in governance, work and careers in European higher education. It observes empirically how and to what extent a European higher education profession is emerging through convergence, standardization and formalization of academic careers.  The book is an output of the project EuroAC – The Academic Profession in Europe: Responses to Societal Challenges, funded by the European Science Foundations and national research councils coordinated by University of Kassel (Germany). It originates from the qualitative data gathered in 8 European countries (Austria, Germany, Finland, Croatia, Ireland, Poland, Romania and Switzerland) by the 8 national partners. Around 500 interviews were conducted with university leaders, administrators and academics.

What are the main common trends in academic work and careers in Europe?

Standardization and formalization of recruitment, promotion and evaluation, as well as of PhD supervision is everywhere apparent and an international dimension is nowadays – at least ideally – integrated in European universities, for instance in hiring, conducting research, teaching.

Competition for academic positions, research grants, publications is increasing at all levels and takes place within and across universities and countries. Such competitive pressures shape increasing differences between global players (countries, universities, academics) and regional players. Thus elite universities, research groups and academics are connecting more among themselves and less within their institutional and national settings.

What are the main differences between the eight European countries you analyze in the book?

In general the increasing institutional autonomy of universities across Europe has shaped complex dynamics that are not completely under the control of states. The stagnating or shrinking public funding has created unequal distribution of resources among universities, which hold different adaptive capacities.

Concretely, national and local practices are still important in the organization of academic careers. In this sense, the landscape of a European academic profession is still rather fragmented. The recent financial crisis has affected European countries quite differently.

Are the main policies on academic careers made at national and institutional levels or does the European Union also play a role?




News: Education and training monitor 2014

ed2014The European Commision has issued the third “Education and Training Monitor” that examines the development of education and training systems across the EU. Its purpose is to follow up on the Europe 2020 targets for education and training. The two headline targets include: reducing early school leavers under 10% and increasing tertiary attainment to at least 40%. The monitoring exercise follows more indicators that are considered important to reach these targets and understand the context.

Regarding higher education attainment, it appears that participation rates in average in Europe are increasing. In 2010, average tertiary education attainment was at 33,6%, and this has now increased to 36,9% – not far off the 40% target. However, looking at the map of Europe, there are also great disparities in this area, and Italy and Romania have attainment levels at 22,4% and 22,8% respectively, a sharp contrast from Ireland, where tertiary education attainment is at 52%, and additionally UK, Sweden, Finland, Lithuania and Luxembourg where tertiary education attainment is over 45%.

Regarding employability, the target is that by 2020, the share of those who have graduated from upper secondary or tertiary education should be at least 82%. This number has however been steadily decreasing, from 77,4% in 2010 to 75,5% in 2013. Countries like Germany, the Nerthelands and Luxembour show employment rates of over 85% for their graduates. At the same time, and rather unsurprisingly countries in the South of Europe who have been hit hard by the economic crisis show employment rates that are under 60%, where employment rate in Greece is just 40%.