Tag: governance

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).

Guest blogger: From performance to conformance: The ‘coercive’ effect of performance-based governance systems

Dr. Peter Woelert

Dr. Peter Woelert

Dr Peter Woelert is a Research Fellow in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne. He has training in sociology and philosophy. His research interests include current trends in university and research policy & governance, organizational change within universities, and organizational forms of university autonomy. 

Over recent decades, many governments have sought to comprehensively reform the system-level policy and governance arrangements for their public universities. One central element of this reform has been the strengthening of performance-based funding mechanisms, with a growing proportion of public funds being distributed to universities according to the results (or ‘outputs’) achieved by them.

A striking case in point for this trend is the Australian higher education system. Since the late 1980s, various Australian governments have developed a funding system for their universities that places paramount emphasis on the performance-based allocation of funds. Most far-reaching have been the changes to the funding of university-based research activities.

In Australia, all recurrent governmental research funding – as compared to the competitive research grant funding awarded by the two Australian research councils – is allocated to universities on the basis of an indicator-based funding formula. The key performance indicators in this regard are the number of publications, external research income, and the number of students completing research degrees such as a doctorate, and which are applied equally to all Australian universities. While indicator-based public research funds only form a relatively small proportion of the annual income of Australian universities (in between 5-10%), they are taken extremely seriously at the university level, and have had a lasting impact on institutional governance systems.

Most notably in this regard is that within the Australian university system, the reshaping of system-level funding arrangements has triggered a vertical adaptation process as a result of which various organizational levels of the university almost identically replicate the performance criteria that are applied to it from above.

This begins with the executive center of the university, which usually applies the same or nearly the same performance criteria across the university’s organizational divisions that the Australian government uses for the performance-based allocation of research funds across the entire university sector.

Podcast: Horizontal governance and learning dynamics in higher education

We are pleased to share with you a presentation of some of the key messages from a large scale project “Horizontal governance and learning dynamics in higher education (HORIZON). The project is undertaken at the Faculty of Educational Sciences in University of Oslo.

In the presentation, Prof Peter Maassen, Prof Monika Nerland, dr. Jennifer Olson, dr. Hilde Afdal and dr Crina Damsa share their insights about he project. The seminar was recorded on 11th of February at the University of Melbourne.

Group presentation

Prof. Monika Nerland | Prof. Peter Maassen | Dr. Crina Damsa | Dr. Jennifer Olson | Dr. Hilde Afdal


Download the powerpoint slides for the presentation here

HORIZON project outline: 

The HORIZON project is aimed at contributing to an improved understanding of major change dynamics in higher education with respect to higher education governance and learning processes in higher education institutions, as well as the way these two are connected.

Seminar: a new social contract for higher education

We are pleased to present you another recorded session from the HEIK academic seminar series in the field of higher education. This lecture was recorded in December 2013 and features Professor Peter Maassen who in this presentation discusses the new social contract for higher education.

Abstract for the session: 

Seminar recording: the early history and governance of Harvard College with Tito Correa

Tito Correa (University of Cambridge)

Tito Correa (University of Cambridge)

We are pleased to feature another recording from the academic seminar series of the research group HEIK (Higher Education: Institutional dynamics and Knowledge cultures) at University of Oslo.

The seminar sheds light on some of the surprising and previously unknown aspects about the establishment of Harvard College and how its initial governance structure was set up on 17th century. The story unfolds around Harvards first beneficiary John Harvard, and two puritans William Ames and Hugh Peter who had important influence during the prehistory of Harvard College.

The seminar was recorded in December 2012 in Oslo, and you can view the full abstract of the seminar here.

Tito Correa is an alumni of the Hedda master programme and is currently enrolled as a doctoral student at the University of Cambridge where his research project is focused on the early history of Harvard.

Listen without the Flashplayer

New working paper published on developments in Swedish higher education

The research group working on higher education at the  Faculty of Education in University of Oslo (HEIK) has recently published a new working paper that is freely available for download.

The paper is by professor Berit Askling from Göteborg University, and it is titled “Integration and/or Diversification: The role of structure in meeting expectations on higher education“.

The paper puts focus on the long term developments of higher education systems, using Sweden as a case. It highlights the evolution of Swedish higher education system from a 50 year perspective and further reflects on the changing nature of higher education in the modern society. A core question in the paper is to what extent markets can be seen as a threat to universities as autonomous institutions, of whether we witnessing a change in the societal pact.

You can read the abstract and download the paper at HEIK website.

New HEIK working paper on changes in English higher education

The research group HEIK (Higher Education: Institutional dynamics and Knowledge cultures) from the University of Oslo has recently launched the third issue of the HEIK Working Paper Series. The working paper series features papers on various issues related to higher education research, both from HEIK members and selected national and international guests.

The paper is titled “The regulated market and the process of change in English higher education: Lessons from Oxbridge” and is written by prof. Ted Tapper. Professor Ted Tapper has extensive experience in the fields of political science and higher education. He was a long time professor at the University of Sussex, and holds a research professorship at the Oxford Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies. One of his core interest areas has been on the relationship between education and politics and he has extensively published on system level governance and policy issues related to higher education.

You can view the abstract and download the paper here.

HEIK academic seminar about student power in Europe with M. Klemenčič

This video features a presentation by dr. Manja  Klemenčič, titled “Student Power in Europe. The presentation highlights some of the important similarities and differences in how students are organised across Europe and what their role is in higher education governance. It will further highlight how one could analytically understand the organisation of student interests in a cross-European perspective and analyse the institutional change that has taken place in representative student organisations.

Manja  Klemenčič currently is a visiting scholar at Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin fuer Sozialforschung and CEPS at University of Ljubljana. She holds BA in Economics from University of Maribor (2000), and M.Phil in European Studies (2002) and a PhD in International Studies (2006) both from University of Cambridge. Earlier, she has held fellowship positions at Harvard’s Center for European Studies and School of Government and at the Center for European Policy Studies in Brussels.  Her research interests include the role of students in higher education governance, the development and organisation of student unions and the role of higher education in democratic citizenship.

The lecture was recorded in March 2012 as a part of the academic seminar series of the research group HEIK (Higher Education: Institutional Dynamics and Knowledge Cultures) at the university of Oslo. 

Call for Participants: ‘Innovating Governance in the Construction of the European Research area’

ARENA and UACES are jointly arranging a workshop titled ‘Innovating Governance in the Construction of the European Research Area’, in Oslo, Norway on 8 June 2012.

Workshop aim: to enable the creation of a pan-European collaborative research network
: Johan P Olsen room, ARENA, University of Oslo, Norway
: 10:00-16:30, Friday, 8 June 2012

The aim of this workshop is to enable the creation of a pan-European collaborative research network by bringing together scholars at all career stages and policy-makers working on the construction of a Single Market of Knowledge. The EU Commission launched the European Research Area in January 2000 and is scheduled to present in June 2012 a ‘Framework on the European Research Area’ that will pave the way for its completion by 2014.

Whilst high on the EU political and policy agenda, the creation of the European Research Area is one of the most under-studied phenomena in European integration. What is the European Research Area and what is its governance structure? How has it evolved and what is the relationship between this ‘area formation’ and others (e.g. the European Higher Education Area)? What are the pressing issues (e.g. legitimacy, effectiveness, or democratic accountability) concerning these developments? Are the theories and approaches we have for investigating European integration adequate to capture and account for its evolution? These are some issues the participants are expected to explore.

The workshop welcomes scholars at all career stages and policy-makers working on the European Re-search Area or related issues. To facilitate constructive interaction, the total number of participants is limited to 15.

Higher education in Japan – current challenges

Higher Education in JapanJapan has been frequently featuring media during the last two months, since the tragic earthquake on March 11, 2011 that has taken countless lives and created destruction beyond imaginable. While great attention has been paid to the courageous attempts to keep the nuclear plants under control and avoid even greater catastrophe, the aftermath of this crisis has also had a major impact on higher education, as on all other spheres of society.

Japan has been through quite significant changes in recent decades. Being a huge success story during the 80s through production of high-tech, consumer electronics and car industry, Japan faced an economic downturn during the 90s. From societal perspective, one of the more striking features is the significantly aging population, and a recent OECD report on tertiary education in Japan indicated that by 2050, the population will have decreased by 25%, this rapid shift is already taking place and is having major consequences for the whole society.

Japanese higher education system is characterized by a large private sector and a high participation rate, where expansion has been achieved through diversification of institutional missions (OECD 2009). From governance perspective, Japanese higher education system has been described as a hybrid system, characterised by policy borrowing/learning from both the US and Germany, as argued by Tom Christensen in a recent article in Higher Education Policy.  Christensen provides a thorough examination of the various reforms that have taken place in Japan this far, and argues that the reform trends can be characterised both by New Public Management (NPM), but also post-NPM trends. These trends are characterised by focus on efficiency and effectiveness, institutional leadership, competition and management.