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)