Tag: European integration

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.




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.




Erasmus impact study – key results published today!

EUThe Erasmus Impact study was conducted by the Erasmus Student Network (ESN), CHE Consult (DE), Brussels Education Services (BE) and the Compostela Group of Universities (ES).

The study was lauched in spring of 2013 and covered current, former, mobile and non-mobile students across Europe through a quantitative and qualitative analysis. The study had two core aims. The first aim was to identify the effects of Erasmus mobility programme on skills enhancement, employability and institutional development of the individual students. The other main focus was on examining the impact of Erasmus staff/teaching mobility.

In the quantitative student surveys, over 50 000 students participated, in addition to more than 18 000 alumni and almost 5000 staff members from higher education institutions, as well as employer representatives and institutional responses. In total, there was almost 79 000 responses analysed. 

The key results from the study were published today. Five key findings are highlighted – related to the rationales to undertake Erasmus mobility, its relationship to employability, influence on future career, personal relationships and the benefits to staff and higher education institutions.

Perhaps unexpected, 90% of mobile students highlight the importance of having experience with living abroad as a rationale for Erasmus, along with language improvement and benefits to employability. Furthermore, the results highlight the inclusiveness of Erasmus, as very few of non-mobile students report barriers due to selection.




News: European Tertiary Education Register database published

eterYesterday, 2nd of July,  it was announced that the new European Tertiary Education Register (ETER) database is now published and accessible for users. The database represents a “new transparency approach to higher education“, according to the press release by the European Commission.

In the press release, Androulla Vassiliiou, the Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth commented on the potential of new register: “It will increase transparency in higher education and help develop a wider range of analysis and information, improve links between education and research, and support the diversity of higher education in Europe.“.

The ETER database provides detailed information on 2250 higher education institutions in Europe, including such information as:

  • Institutional descriptions, e.g. the name of the institution and founding year.
  • Geographical description such as region, city of the main seat and postcode.
  • Numbers of students and graduates at diploma, bachelor, master, doctoral level, gender, fields of education, nationality and mobility.
  • HEI expenditure and revenue.
  • Number of academic and non-academic staff, number of professors.
  • Research activities (PhD students, R&D expenditure)




Thematic week: The Re-Institutionalization of Higher Education in the Western Balkans.

bookThis final post in our thematic week is a brief background and introduction to one of the key project outputs, the newly published book: “The Re-Institutionalization of Higher Education in the Western Balkans. The interplay between European ideas, domestic policies, and institutional practices”. The review is written by Jelena Brankovic (Ghent University) 

During last three decades, European higher education systems and institutions have witnessed dramatically changing socio-economic, technological and political environments, general public sector reforms aimed at modernizing public sector governance and management, and increasing demands for positive social and economic impacts of their education and research activities. However, the change dynamics experienced and challenges faced by some countries and regions have been essentially different than others.

The countries often described as “the Western Balkans” (former Yugoslavia, minus Slovenia, plus Albania) during the last couple of decades have faced two interrelated sets of challenges. First, they had to re-establish their own national higher education systems following the institutional upheaval of the break-down of former Yugoslavia or the fall of the autocratic regime of Enver Hoxha in Albania. This required the development of new laws and regulations, the establishment of new governance and funding systems, and the adequate handling of problems with respect to the quality, efficiency and relevance of higher education institutions. Second, the countries had to adjust these newly developed systems to European developments, not least the Bologna Process and more internationally oriented higher education institutions while maintaining national and regional relevance.

The book The Re-Institutionalization of Higher Education in the Western Balkans. The Interplay between European Ideas, Domestic Policies, and Institutional Practices, is the 5th volume in the series Higher Education Research and Policy issued by Peter Lang Publishers.




Hedda podcast: Higher education transformation in the Western Balkans

Episode 45 of our podcast series features Martina Vukasovic (CHEGG, Ghent University). In the podcast, we discuss the recently finished NORGLOBAL funded project about higher education transformation in the Western Balkans. We highlight the key project results, including what she thought to be the most surprising research results. Further, we discuss challenges when working with capacity building and reflect on the plans for the future.

Listen without the Flashplayer

Martina Vukasovic  (CHEGG, Ghent University)

Martina Vukasovic
(CHEGG, Ghent University)

Martina Vukasovic is employed as a post-doctoral fellow at CHEGG and is due to defend her PhD dissertation in June at the University of Oslo. She is also an earlier Hedda graduate, having completed her Masters Degree in Higher Education in 2007. Earlier, she has worked as the founding director of the Education Policy Center in Serbia, for the Council of Europe, as well as having been the chairperson of the European Student Union (then ESIB). She is also currently in the Council of the Magna Charta Observatory. Her research interests are primarily focused on higher education governance and policy, with particular focus on European integration processes.




Follow the live stream of a conference on European integration in Western Balkans higher education – tomorrow!

herdataWe are delighted to inform you that tomorrow, 27th of February, we will bring you LIVE the final conference of a project: European integration in higher education and research in the Western Balkans (NORGLOBAL). 

The project is funded by the Norwegian Research Council and is a cooperation between Department of Education (IPED) and the Centre for European Studies (ARENA) at the University of Oslo, the Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education (NIFU) in Norway, as well as partners from the Western Balkan region, including University of Zagreb in Croatia, Faculty of Political Sciences of the University of Belgrade in Serbia and Centre for Education Policy in Serbia.

You can read more about the project results and outcomes on the main project website.

The live stream will be available from 10.00 Norwegian time (CET) and will carry out throughout the day tomorrow with keynotes, book presentations and panel debates.

You can log on as a “guest” on this link.

View the conference programme here.




HEIK seminar with Dr Tatiana Fumasoli on the role of the European Research Council

Tatiana Fumasoli  (ARENA, University of Oslo)

Tatiana Fumasoli
(ARENA, University of Oslo)

We are pleased to inform you about another recorded session from the HEIK academic seminar series in the field of higher education, with both invited international speakers and members of the research group HEIK (Higher Education: Institutional dynamics and Knowledge cultures) here at the University of Oslo.

This lecture was recorded in November 2013 and features Dr. Tatiana Fumasoli who discusses the role of the European Research Council in the emerging European Research Area.

Listen to the session directly on HEIK website

Abstract for the session: 




European Commission report on quality assurance in Europe

EUQuality assurance is one of the areas where European cooperation has advanced in a relatively significant manner over the last decade. Recently, the Commission published a new report on issues related to quality and quality assurance in Europe. The report refers to the 2009 report that put forward three main aims: to make quality assurance (QA) more transparent for users, to link it closer to the wider aims of higher education, and to further develop cross-border cooperation. 

The current report sums up the most important developments in quality assurance in Europe since 2009 with various available reports from sources such as EHEA working group, EUA, EACEA, IBAR and ESU. While progress is reported on most areas, it is also highlighted that linking quality assurance to concrete quality improvement processes and strategic work of the institutions remains a challenge. The positive impact of the European Standards and Guidelines (ESG) is noted, but it is also highlighted that their implementation has this far been rather uneven, and a revision process of ESG is now in process. 

The report highlights that the areas where more action is still necessary are in particular widening access, employability, internationalisation, improvement of doctoral training as well as human resource strategies. The need to shift attention to the content rather than the procedural aspects of quality assurance is highlighted in several parts of the document. Furthermore quality assurance issues are linked to mobility concerns and qualifications frameworks, perhaps a rather unsurprising linkage, considering that both of these topics have been a rather successful themes in European higher education for EU led joint cooperation.