Tag: policy

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).

Review: ICPP conference featured multiple panels on higher education policy

ICPPIn this post, we share some experiences from the recent International Consortium for Public Policy (ICPP) conference. The 2nd ICPP conference was held in the beginning of July (1st to 4th) in Milan. The local organisation in Milan was by the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore and Éupolis Lombardia – Institute for Research, Statistics and Training. The post is written by Mari Elken. 

Milan greeted conference participants with burning heat and a gorgeous conference location at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore. The conference attracted 1400 people this year, marking a considerable rise from the first conference in Grenoble in 2013. The conference featured 23 different thematic areas. 17 of these were focused on various aspects of policy analysis, and the remaining focused on specific topics or specific sectors in policy analysis.

Higher education was featured in the Comparative Policy theme, with two panels, “Patterns and pathways of convergence/divergence in higher education: A comparative perspective” and te panel “Higher Education Policy in Asia: Reform, Outcomes, Equity and Access”. Furthermore, education policy received a separate category was well, featuring two different panels – one organised by ERA-CRN with its main focus on “Governance of Knowledge Policies”, and the other was themed “Higher Education Governance between Historical Roots and Transnational Convergence Pressures”.

Call for papers: various themes related to higher education policy

ICPPThe International Conference on Public Policy will take in Milan from Wednesday, 1st July to Friday, 4th July, 2015. The call for papers has recently been issued.

Deadline for applications – 15th of January 

In total there are 18 various section, including a section for specific topics that also includes education. Here are a number of panels of interest for higher education policy:

T18P27 – Governance of Knowledge Policies (Section 18c – Education)

Chaired by Jens Jungblut, University of Oslo, Department of Education; Meng Hsuan Chou, Nanyang  Technological University; Pauline Ravinet, Université Lille 2. Discussants: Mitchell Young (Charles University), Tim Flink (WZB) and Tatiana Fumasoli (ARENA; Oslo)

The governance of knowledge – generation, organisation, or dissemination – has now permeated all policy levels, from the local, national, regional to the global. These processes, however, are studied across diverse disciplines – science and higher education (policy) studies, international relations, comparative politics, sociology and organisational studies – often disconnected from one another. This is surprising given that there are at least three clear research foci they have in common. At the level of (i) discourse and ideas, attention is paid to whether, how, and why concepts such as excellence, globalism and regionalism, innovation, to name but a few, percolate into daily practices and how they are then weaved into the fabric of policies, organisations or systems. Similarly, these disciplines have in common their interests in how the dynamics of higher education, research and science have impacted (ii) the central organisations, i.e. universities and non-university research institutes, as well as the funding and regulatory agencies. Finally, there is also clear shared research interest in how such dynamics have affected (iii) groups and individuals as members of these organisations, e.g. asking whether and how the normalisation of universities or their global differentiation/isomorphism clash with the normative foundations of science as a profession/vocation or, even earlier, with the hitherto humanistic ideals of ‘socialising’ students by education.

This panel invites researchers from across diverse disciplines to examine the multi-level governance of knowledge policies and politics, focusing on any of the above-mentioned dynamics as well as the role of actors in influencing them. Submitted papers should be clearly linked to one of the three sections – each addressing one of the three research foci identified. All accepted papers must have a clear conceptual approach, preferably supported by empirical examples beyond a single case study.

T02P05 – Patterns and pathways of convergence/divergence in higher education: A comparative perspective (Section 02: Comparative Policy)

Chaired by – Martina Vukasovic, Centre for Higher Education Governance Ghent (CHEGG), Ghent University, and Donald Westerheijden, CHEPS, University of Twente. Discussant: Giliberto Capano

HEIK seminar with Jens Jungblut – do political parties matter for higher education policy?

Jens Jungblut  (HEIK/Hedda)

Jens Jungblut

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 April 2013 and features Jens Jungblut who discusses how political parties matter in higher education policy.

Jens is also involved as a teacher at the Hedda master programme, where he teaches both courses on methods and higher education governance.

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Abstract for the session

HEIK seminar: The role of European initiatives in higher education in national policy development

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 February 2013 and features Martina Vukasovic (HEIK, UiO) who discusses the role of European initiatives in higher education in national policy development, with focus on three countries of the former Yugoslavia – Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia, and covering roughly the period between the break-up of the former federal country (1990) and the proclaimed deadline for establishment of the European Higher Education Area (2010).

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Abstract for the session:

Martina Vukasovic  (HEIK, UiO)

Martina Vukasovic

The paper analyses the changes in governance and policy of QA in the three countries by tracing the shifts in (a) the rationale for quality as an issue for national policies, (b) the actors involved in quality assurance, their roles and relationships and (c) key elements of the QA approaches on the system level (regulative basis, focus on higher education institutions and/or study programmes, etc.).

The role of European initiatives in higher education is seen through three different theoretical perspectives: Europeanization of higher education focusing on the vertical dynamics, policy transfer facilitated by European initiatives focusing on the horizontal dynamics and multiple streams approach focusing on whether and how European initiatives facilitate opening of policy windows.

The paper concludes with highlighting the key similarities and differences between the three theoretical approaches and stressing the benefits of using multiple perspectives in terms of minimizing analytical blind spots.


NOMA summer school: Research and policy nexus

In this series of presentations the focus is put on the so-called research policy nexus. How can research on higher education influence policy in this field? What is evidence based policy? How can you assure that policymakers and politicians listen to what you have to say?

These are some of the questions that will be focused on in this session of the NOMA summer school.

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The presentations include

  1. Teboho Moja “Disconnections between research and policy”
  2. Julian May “Talking to the Finance Minister about poverty”
  3. Tracy Bailey “Experiences with HERANA and contributions to policy”

The accompanying powerpoint presentations: 

Guest blogger: Rewarding excellent teaching in the UK – from policy to practice

Dr Rebecca Turner and Prof David Gosling
(University of Plymouth)

In this blog posting Dr Rebecca Turner and Prof. David Gosling examine how a national policy initiative attempted to promote the agenda for rewarding excellent teaching within the UK.  It considers the interplay between national policy and local agenda and the implications for achieving change in higher education

This entry is based on the article: “Rewarding Excellent Teaching: the translation of a policy initiative in the United Kingdom. Higher Education Quarterly, 44 (4) 415-430.

There is a well-rehearsed argument that systems of reward for teaching and learning and for research should be more equitable. Since the 1970’s policymakers have been calling for increased recognition to be given to those who are excellent teachers because of the role they play in educating future generations. However, despite the prevalence of awards for teaching, and the growth of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning movement, recognition for teaching still appears to be falling behind that of research, with increasing fears of the implications of this for teaching quality – as highlighted in a recent article by Vassiliou & McAleese (2012).

In the UK, under the New Labour government, considerable attention was paid to the issues of teaching quality from the late 1990’s.  There were several national initiatives with the dual purpose of promoting and rewarding high quality teaching and learning.   The largest of these was the Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) initiative, introduced by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) in 2004.  The declared purpose of the initiative was to reward excellent teaching and to invest in the identified excellent practice in order to increase and deepen its impact.  The CETLs were awarded after a two-stage competitive bidding process in which a case was made for self-identified excellence within or across a network of institutions.  In 2005, 74 CETLs were awarded, each receiving up to £500,000 annually with an initial capital investment of up to £2 million. This in itself marked the CETL initiative out as significant because it was the most generously funded initiative targeted at improving teaching there had ever been.

Guest blogger: Different approaches to teacher education policy in Finland and Norway

Hilde Afdal (Østfold University College)

Finland is often cited to be a success story regarding their educational system, not least in measurements such as PISA. So what is so special about Finnish education? Hilde Afdal examines how teacher education policy is organised in Finland in comparison to Norway, and highlights the apolitical, autonomous and research-based nature of the policy processes in Finland. Could this be part of the explanation for their success?

This guest entry is based on a recent article published in ‘Higher Education’, titled ‘Policy Making Processes with respect to Teacher Education in Finland and Norway‘.

It can be argued that teacher education is one of the most politicized higher education programs. The teaching profession has close ties to the state, since it is an important welfare profession and is regarded as crucial for societal development.

The quality and accountability of primary education have relied heavily on teachers’ professional knowledge and skills. With the advent of the 21st century, international testing of students’ learning outcomes has increased. The differences revealed by these tests are one of the main underlying factors for the placement of teacher education and teacher education policy on the international and national policy agendas. Even so, policy making in the area of teacher education can be conducted rather differently.

Usually, policy processes for teacher education are initiated by the state. Who the state decides to involve,  how such processes are steered and by what kind of ‘rules and procedures’ such processes are conducted, will vary from country to country. The rules and procedures for policy making in teacher education determine who is allowed to shape the content of teacher education policy, what kind of experts are consulted, as well as what kind of policy ideology and educational ideology are emphasized and given space.  In addition, how policy is developed and formulated will affect the degree of professional autonomy for teacher education institutions. Finally, policy making must also take a position on what is important knowledge for teachers and what is the best way to organize it.

Call for Erasmus Mundus visiting scholars in public policy (2013-2014)

Mundus MAPP, the Erasmus Mundus Master Programme for Public Policy has issued a call for visiting scholars. Mundus MAPP is a joint programme organised by Central European University (Hungary), Institut Barcelona d’Estudies Internacionals (Spain), the International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (the Netherlands), and the University of York (UK).

Funding is available for visits between two weeks and up to three months in one of the Consortium’s institutions. The activities during the period include teaching or developing elements of the MAPP master programme (for instance contribute to courses, supervise thesis projects, participate in study visits). After complition the scholars are expected to contribute to the promotion and dissemination of the Erasmus Mundus Programme in general, and Mundus MAPP in particular in their home institutions and country of origin.

You can read more about the visiting scholar arrangements here, or download the visiting scholar flyer.

Innovation policies in the Nordic countries – different national policy debates?

In June 2012, the research group HEIK at the Faculty of Education in University of Oslo held an international open seminar titled “The challenge of the Research, Development & Innovation (RDI) role of Higher Education Institutions: different national policy debates and institutional developments in Finland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden“.

We are delighted to be able to offer you the possibility to listen to these presentations here on the Hedda blog as well.

Speakers at this seminar included Mats Benner (Lund University and Uppsala University), Peter Maassen (University of Oslo), Bjørn Stensaker (University of Oslo) and Kaare Aagaard (Århus University).

The main starting point for the seminar was that in recent decades one can identify a series of large scale reforms, where higher education increasingly has to deal with complex tasks beyond the traditional teaching and research activities. A growing number of societal problems call for a closer connection between innovation and higher education – however, what do we really know about current RDI policies in the Nordic countries and what have been the experiences this far?

You can download the background paper further reflecting on the topic of the seminar at the HEIK homepage, and listen to the introductory presentation and presentations of four country cases here.