Tag: public

Podcast: University Civic Engagement – What Does It Mean To Be An Engaged University?

The recording was made during a seminar organized by the research group ExCID (Expert cultures and institutional dynamics: Studies in higher education and work) at University of Oslo. The ExCID group is focused on theoretical, methodological, and empirical understanding of the dynamics of higher education and its way of fostering academic and professional development. The seminar was held 15th of November 2016.

University Civic Engagement: What Does It Mean To Be An Engaged University?

Presenter: Dr. Bojana Culum (University of Rijeka, Croatia)

Bojana Culum (University of Rijeka, Croatia)

Bojana Culum
(University of Rijeka, Croatia)

Abstract for the seminar:

Civic engagement refers to the ways in which citizens participate in the life of a community in order to improve conditions for others or to help shape the community’s (better) future, through both political and non-political processes. Civic engagement is considered to be central to the public purpose of higher education and essential to the student experience, empowering students to become active and socially responsible citizens in a democratic society. However, in the context of major societal changes and challenges, it is argued that publicly-funded universities have to move beyond creating such engaged experiences only for students and that they have a civic duty to engage with wider society on the local, national and global scales, and to do so in a manner which links the social to the economic spheres. There are many ways to live our commitment to community and civic engagement, from big impacts to small decisions. This seminar will reflect on research in the field as well as critics and serve as a platform for discussion on what does it mean for contemporary universities to embrace civic engagement and become active and socially responsible institutional citizen(s) and caring (institutional) neighbours – how to foster meaningful connections and engagement between universities and communities to effect positive change in society.

Bojana Culum works as assistant professor at the University of Rijeka’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Department of Pedagogy, Croatia. Her research focuses on university third and civic mission, university civic and community engagement (the concept of an engaged university) and changes in academic profession with particular interest for early career (female) researchers’ socialisation into academia. She was a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at Portland State University, USA, during the academic year 2015/2016.

Listen without the Flashplayer

View the slides of the presentation here. 


The recording has been reposted with permission from the research group.

View the research group homepage here.




New EUA report on public funding of higher education in Europe published last Friday

EUA Public Funding Observatory online tool

EUA Public Funding Observatory online tool

The European University Association (EUA) has published the 2014 analysis from the Public Funding Observatory. The report examines latest developments (2013-2014) regarding public funding of universities in Europe, as well as devlopments since 2008.

The report is based on data that the EUA has been collecting since 2008, the data is reported by National Rectors Conferences. Currently, the report includes 28 countries/regions in Europe. The report highlights some clear patterns in public funding.

For the most recent developments (2013-2014) data is provided for 19 countries. When corrections for inflation are taken into account, it is about as many countries where funding has been increased (7), than those where it has decreased (8) regarding the latest developments. Another 4 countries experience a stable funding situation (+/- 1%). When the change is adjusted for inflation, two countries show increase over 5% – Poland and Portugal. In both countries, public funding until this year has decreased. In Portugal, this is the first increase since 2010.

The decrease has been more than 10% (after adjustment for inflation) in three countries – Greece, Lithuania and United Kingdom. For Greece this is a rather drastic situation as public funding has been almost halved since 2008. The cuts in UK have not been as drastic, but have also shown a clear downward trend since the peak in 2010. For Lithuania, the funding levels have also been decreasing since 2008, and the cut this year was substantial.

Looking at the overall trends between 2008 and 2014, three countries have experienced an increase of public gunding that is between 20 and 40%, this is Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Furthermore, the countries where the increase has been over 5% include Poland, Austria and the Belgium (French community).




News: 2013 EUA report on public funding of universities launched

EUA2013This week, the European University Association (EUA) published a new report on the issue of funding of higher education in Europe in the context of crisis, following up on the previous report from June 2012 that identified that the countries which had suffered most from cuts in public funding were to a large extent located in Eastern and Southern Europe.

The news release from the 2013 report highlights that out of the 17 countries that had reported data on funding developments the changes in the last year show that in a number of countries the public budgets are now on the increase:

  • nine countries reported an increase in funding (Austria, Iceland, Czech Republic, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Belgian French-speaking Community, France, Lithuania)
  • eight reported cuts up to 25%  (Italy, Netherlands, Slovakia, Croatia, Portugal, UK – England and Wales, Greece, Hungary)

Regarding countries with a high increase, Iceland reports a 23% increase from 2012, but this is mostly linked to student numbers. However, the increases were noticeable also in the other countries with positive numbers. It should be noted that in Italy, Netherlands and Slovakia the picture emerging was in  essence that the budget was stable, and not decreasing in any significant manner.

Only in Greece and Hungary the decrease was above 10%, ranging 25% in Greece. According to the report, in both of those countries the situation now is quite dramatic, with the overall developments beteen 2008 and 2013 (not adjusted to inflation) highlighting cuts that total -46% in Greece and about -31% in Hungary.




Thematic week: Higher education and economic crisis

Prof. N.V. Varghese (IIEP/UNESCO)

In this entry of the thematic week on higher education at times of crisis, professor N.V. Varghese, Head of Governance and Management of Education at IIEP/UNESCO (Paris) examines the current economic crisis and the implications for higher education. He highlights the variety of national and institutional responses, and discusses some factors that might have alleviated some of the effects of the current crisis on higher education. 

The nature of the current economic crisis

From 2008 onwards, the world has been experiencing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. It has been a period of shrinking national income, falling prices and wages, and job losses and increasing unemployment. Unlike several earlier crises which were regional or national in nature, this crisis was global in its spread and effects. Further, while many crises in the past resulted from government budget deficits and borrowings, this crisis, like the East Asian economic crisis during the turn of this century, is caused by the unregulated operation of the market forces. Therefore, the current crisis is more a reflection of the failure of the market processes than a sign of inefficiency in the operation of the state sector.

In all countries, the government interventions were seen as an essential step to revive the economy and get out of the crisis. The stimulus packages and austerity measures were among important public intervention strategies applied in any country. The ongoing street protests in Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy, etc., against austerity measures brought to light the debate on austerity versus growth, deficit versus taxation, reduced public spending versus social security, etc., to the electoral scene and many of those who introduced austerity measures lost in the national elections.

Public investment, aid and education during the crisis period

All sectors including education are affected by the current economic crisis. Public investment in primary education continues to be low in some countries which are far from achieving the Education for All (EFA) goal, and it further declined in some countries during the crisis period. The low public investment in education contributes to reduced enrolment and increased drop-outs of children from poor households, especially at the primary levels of education.




Guest blogger: The future higher education funding settlement – cost-sharing versus public/private substitution

Dr. Vincent Carpentier (Institute of Education, University of London)

Dr. Vincent Carpentier is Reader in History of Education at the Institute of Education, University of London. He is the Programme Leader of the MA in Higher and Professional Education and Associate Editor of the London Review of Education. His comparative research on the historical relationship between educational systems, long economic cycles and social change is located at the interface of economic history, history of education and political economy. His recent publications include Global Inequalities and Higher Education, Whose Interests Are We Serving? (Palgrave MacMillan, 2010 – co-edited with Elaine Unterhalter) and articles in various academic journals. More about his publications here.

This piece draws on the article ‘Public-Private Substitution in Higher Education: Has Cost-Sharing Gone Too Far?, Higher Education Quarterly, 66(4), 363-390, 2012.

Debates on the alternative ways of funding higher education should lead to reflect on the nature and the aim(s) of higher education. This is especially the case during crisis times which invite us to question the increasing competition between the social, political, cultural and economic rationales behind changes in higher education policies and institutional practices. How can we keep a balance between learning for its own sake and professionalisation? Is higher education a public, private or mixed good? A reflection on those issues can best be informed by interdisciplinary insights.

The principles by which a society defines what higher education is (or should be) have a strong practical impact on the design and implementation of higher education funding settlement. Key questions should be considered here. How do governments manage (or struggle) to articulate policies regarding funding, equity and quality? Who pays and who benefits from higher education? What are the implications of the rise of private funding such as fees and the emergence of private provision? What are the financial and non financial barriers to access, participation and outcome? How can these barriers be removed? How should a fair and efficient higher education system be organised? How to address these questions in an increasingly global context?




EUA report on public funding and financial crisis in Europe

A bit over a week ago, EUA’s Public Funding Observatory published a new report examining the relationship between levels of public funding in Europe and the relationship to the financial crisis.

Public funding overview in Europe 2008-2012   (Source: EUA)

The report indicates that while the effects vary across Europe, the financial crisis has had widespread effects on higher education systems in Europe. In some cases these effects have been quite severe. The report prepared a basic map of Europe that divides countries into four main groups:  increase over 1% (green), stable funding situation (blue), decrease between 1-10% (orange) and decrease over 10% (red). In addition, a number of countries were treated as “special cases” (gray).

As quite visible from the map, the countries that have suffered the most from financial crisis (a number of Eastern European countries, and Southern Europe) are also the ones where there have been large cuts in public funding, with some exceptions.

The 11 countries that witnessed a cut over 10% include Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. A number of these countries are also on the forefront of the news in terms of a general economic situation.




The Bologna Process: reinventing the never-ending saga?

In this post, Hedda associate and current Hedda blog research editor Mari Elken gives a short summary of her observations during the recent Bologna Ministerial Summit in Bucharest. What were the main debates during the conference and what can we say about the future of the process?   

Just over a week ago, the Bucharest communiqué was adopted, the seventh communique in the Bologna process that started in 1999. Now encompassing 47 countries it often tends to be glorified by the actors involved as a great success and hallmark of changes achieved, whereas the research evidence tends to be more modest in terms of the actual impacts and convergence.

The presentation of the latest stocktaking report at the ministerial conference indicated a number of fuzzy areas (e.g. lifelong learning) and a number of areas where progress had not been very huge. However, there are areas that seem to be highlighted as success stories by all involved in the process. Indeed, for a number of reasons (and these varying from country to country) Bologna has arguably been an initiator for a number of reform processes in Europe and beyond, and there has been some structural convergence in terms of the introduction of the three cycles.

While the initial deadline for building the European Higher Education Area was in 2010, this did not mark an end point in the process. As the Romanian minister of education formulated it: there really are no alternatives so one needs to reinvent the Bologna Process. So – what would that entail and did the ministerial conference indicate that this reinvention is either taking place or likely to take place?




In Focus: The Catalan Public University Association (ACUP)

We continue our In Focus series where we highlight relevant organisations and associations for higher education in Europe and world wide. This entry was written by Alicia Betts, Project Manager at the Catalan Association of Public Universities (ACUP) and graduate of the European Master of Higher Education (HEEM) programme in 2009. 

The Catalan Association of Public Universities (ACUP) was created in 2002 as a bottom-up initiative stemming from the public universities of Catalonia: Universitat de Barcelona (UB), Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF), Universitat de Girona (UdG), Universitat de Lleida (UdL), Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV) and the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC). The main aim of the organisation is to jointly promote initiatives, programs and projectes to improve the university system for the social, cultural and economic development of Catalonia.

The ACUP has a one-year rotary President which is the Rector of one of the member insitutions and a permanent Executive Secretariat. The General Assembly is formed by the Rectors of the public universities and the Presidents of the Social Councils of the member universities (an external body to the universities) and decides the overall activities of the organization. The ACUP’s Advisory Board’s members are distinguished and experienced professionals in Catalonia as well as two international higher education and research experts.