Tag: massification

Report: How to assure fair participation in higher education?

reportWPHigher education systems across the world are undergoing substantial expansion, even if the starting point is in many cases substantially different. However, the general expansion trends puts focus on assuring that this widening participation also reaches under-represented groups. How to assure that widening participation also means fair participation?

HEFCE, the Higher Education Funding Council in England, has commissioned a new report that examines six national case studies that detail effective approaches to widening participation strategy and practices. The main goal was to identify “what works”, what are some of the identified good practices. The case studies focus on impact and effectiveness through multiple levels – from system level policies of widening participation to institutional level interventions.

Based on the six cases in Australia, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa and the United States of America (USA) the report examined some common systemic factors that influence access and progression. General educational system structure is also linked to progression to higher education. As expected, system stratification in many cases is linked to the socio-economic conditions of the particular area, and one can identify a concentration of high performing schools in more advantaged areas. Furthermore the report indicates that social class is the key determinant of both success in education and access to higher education. This class division is also seen amongst those who do go to higher education in cases where there is a more stratified higher education system. Students from higher socio-economic background tend to attend highly selective institutions with more research oriented profile, whereas those from lower socio-economic background tend to attend institutions with less prestige and more vocational/professional profile. The report suggests that focus on alternative pathways (for instance, accreditation of prior learning, options to progress to HE from vocational education, etc) can facilitate more diverse student participation.

HEIK seminar: University of California – Challenges to mass education in the US

We are pleased to share yet another 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 March 2013 and features Prof. Steven Brint (University of California Riverside) who examines the challenges of mass education in the US.

Professor Steven Brint (UC Riverside)

Professor S. Brint

Abstract for the session: Mass access combined with declining requirements and student utilitarianism has led to increases in the size of academically disengaged undergraduate student populations in the United States. This paper presents a method for conceptualizing and measuring these populations. It measures the size and characteristics of academically disengaged populations in a major public research university system, the University of California, and it discusses approaches that can be useful as means to re-engage these students in academic life. The paper briefly discusses the likely implications of mass online higher education within the current context of undergraduate student life.

Listen without the Flashplayer

Read more about Prof. Steven Brint here.

Guest blogger: From Massification to Quality Assurance in Ethiopia

Ayenachew Aseffa Woldegiyorgis

Ayenachew Aseffa Woldegiyorgis

In this guest entry, Ayenachew Aseffa Woldegiyorgis examines recent change of focus in Ethiopian higher education, where after decades of focusing on expansion, concerns of quality have become high on the agenda.

Ayenachew has studied Management and Masters of Public Administration (MPA). For over eight years he has taught at Unity University and Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. Currently he is a student of Masters in Research and Innovation in Higher Education (MARIHE) at Danube University (Austria), University of Tampere (Finland), Beijing Normal University (China) and University of Osnabruck (Germany). 

The past fifteen years are marked by a massive expansion in the Ethiopian higher education (HE). The number of public universities increased from just two by the end of 1990s to 32 in 2013. Total enrollment has increased from 42,132 in 1996/97 to 319,217 in 2010/11 and it is targeted to reach 467,445 by 2014/15 (MOE, 2005; 2010a). Yet, as much as it is hailed for its success in the massification, the government has been equally criticized for immensely neglecting quality. Recently the government has admitted to this  problem and declared that it has redirected its attention from expansion to quality assurance.

Ethiopia’s quality endeavor is now faced with a complicated set of challenges and requires a well thought out, comprehensive strategy and strong commitment. On one hand, the issue of quality has been long neglected implying that the problem has accrued over the years and the reform effort has to begin from almost zero. On the other hand, the very nature of quality assurance in HE is complex and demands multidimensional and concurrent attention on the various determinants. The overall strategy for quality should focus on (but not be limited to) the following major and interdependent challenges, each one of which can be further analyzed in greater detail. 

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.

Guest blogger: Economic growth and higher education policies in Brazil – a link?

Simon Schwartzman

Simon Schwartzman – senior researcher at the Instituto de Estudos do Trabalho e Sociedade in Rio de Janeiro.

In this guest entry, Simon Schwartzman examines the link between economic growth and higher education expansion. He argues that this links exists, but not in the expected direction; economic growth is the cause, not the product of the expansion of higher education and research. However, this situation may be changing now, with the growing demand for qualified manpower and research capabilities by the knowledge economy.

This post was originally published as at International Higher Education (issue 67), but is being reposted with permission from the author. 

Brazil is one of the new “emerging economies.” It is flexing its muscles to become a leading international player, and thus, it needs good university institutions capable to produce the scientists and engineers needed to keep the momentum. Therefore, clear policies are required, to improve the standards of universities and the quality of higher education institutions, based on a clear identification of priorities. However, contrary to the assumptions and expectations of external observers, Brazil does not have such a strategy.

Brazil experienced cycles of rapid economic growth in the 1930s, after World War II, in the 1970s, and again after 2002. Each of these cycles can be explained by favorable external conditions—the revenues created by the agricultural and mining sectors, the influx of international investments, and the use of such resources to finance a growing public sector, the steady transfer of the population from the countryside to the urban centers, and generating a growing internal consumption market. These developments were also preceded by internal reorganizations of the economy, controlling inflation and increasing the governments’ ability to raise taxes, as it happened in the late 1960s and more recently in the 1990s. In none of these cycles is a causal link found between investments in education, science, and technology and economic growth.