Tag: Serbia

Guest blogger: Learning outcomes – between perspectives and practice

Liliana Krstic

Liliana Krstić

Ljiljana Krstić is a recent graduate from the UiO’s Higher Education Master’s Programme. Her prior education includes a degree in the Greek language and literature as well as the human resources management. Main research interests involve organisational change within universities, management and internationalisation of higher education.

The idea to write the thesis about learning outcomes resulted from the article I read on how research has pointed out to the discrepancy between the narrative and actual application of the concept in practice, and how in fact application has turned out to be the slow and difficult (Adam, 2008). In addition, a CEDEFOP study (2012) confirmed that interpretations of the concept vary throughout Europe, and even within individual institution (Dobbins, Brooks, Scott, Rawlinson, Norman, 2014). Research indicates that application of such a broad concept may cause a variety of interpretations, misconceptions and misuses.

In general the problem with the reform rhetoric and changes that follow, are empirically unverified beliefs and assumptions of the reform policies. Some are expected to be adopted even if they lack empirical verification, normative agreement and clear theoretical propositions (Maassen, Olsen, 2007). Learning outcomes exemplify how a policy debate throughout Europe has the tendency to become more similar, despite the different traditions and varieties between the counties, implying the willingness of national actors to follow the new terminological fashion (Teichler, 2004) and to emphasise the “European perspective’.

Therefore I decided to write about perspectives necessary for understanding the concept of learning outcomes and empirically verifying whether some of them are more dominant than the other. Additionally, I wanted to hear the voices of academics and academic leaders as the ultimate recipients of the policy, responsible for its reshaping in practice and enquire about their interpretation of the concept and its embeddeddness within the institutional context of the University of Belgrade. Lastly, I used the data to find patterns in the perceptions of changes which occurred as a result of the application of learning outcomes in practice.

As for the methods of inquiry, University of Belgrade was treated as an embedded single-case study, with three faculties as sub-units integral to the University as a whole. The selection of faculties reflected the classification of disciplines into four broad headings: hard-pure, soft-pure, hard-applied and soft-applied (Becher, 1989; Neumann, Becher, 2002).

Understanding and interpretation of learning outcomes may vary respectively to the perceived learning orientation and purposes of the concept among academic community who assume different functions within the University. Thus, it was essential for the study to explore the perceptions of academics and academic leaders. Empirically, the thesis is built upon twelve in-depth semi-structured interviews and relevant university and legislative documents. The respondents are academics and academic leaders from: soft-pure, hard- pure and hard-applied faculties respectively.




New research reports on higher education systems in the Balkans

western balkansHigher education in the Western Balkans was for a long period a relatively under-researcher region in Europe, but has in recent years gained more attention and an number of interesting research projects are underway.

As part of the project “European Integration of Higher Education and Research in the Western Balkans,” (read more about the project here) the project team has produced the series of reports entitled “Overview of Higher Education and Research Systems in the Western Balkanswhich are now available for download on the project website. The reports cover seven higher education systems in the region – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo*, FYR Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia and each of the reports represents a comprehensive overview of the higher education and research systems in the region, covering topics such as policy, governance arrangements, funding, institutional landscape, and quality, while focusing on the major reforms and trends in the recent years.

Another project that examines the region is titled “Differentiation, Equity, Productivity: The Social and Economic Consequences of Expanded and Differentiated Higher Education Systems – Internationalisation Aspects“, led by University of Ljubljana, where the research team is led by prof. Pavel Zgaga from Centre of Educational Policy Studies (CEPS). In a recent report they have published the results of a survey at seventeen higher education institutions from eight countries of the Western Balkans. You can download the report here. 




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).


Listen without the Flashplayer

Abstract for the session:

Martina Vukasovic  (HEIK, UiO)

Martina Vukasovic
(HEIK, UiO)

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.

 




Research policy, Financing and Performance: Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia in comparative perspective

by Jelena Branković and Norbert Šabić 

The recent publication of the Centre for Education Policy deals with current trends and insights from the field of scientific research. The aim behind the study was to provide an informative comparison of policy developments, financing and performance in the three countries which were once part of the former Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia: Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia.

It explores extensively the degree to which financing as a policy instrument is conducive to the development of scientific research within these countries.

The book offers empirical data on research policy, funding and performance, which can be of use for future policymaking in the three countries, as well as useful for international institutions and organisations approaching or seeking to enhance their understanding of the research systems under study.

Differing relationship between the state and research organisations

Using the principal-agent model as the analytical framework, the authors conclude that even though the studied countries had the same departure point – the one of the former Yugoslavia, today, the relationship between the state and research organisations in these countries demonstrate different characteristics. While the Slovenian government has handed over the role of the principal to an independent agency and Croatia is beginning to follow suit, Serbia still operates a basic delegation model, which enables a direct relationship between the policy maker and the research providers.




Call for Papers: CHER 2012

The 25th annual conference of the Consortium of Higher Education Researchers (CHER) will take place in Belgrade on 10-12 September 2012, and will be organized by the Centre for Education Policy (CEP) and the Centre for Education Policy Studies of the University of Ljubljana Faculty of Education (CEPS).

This years conference also marks the 25th anniversary of the Consortium of Higher Education Researchers. In 2012, the conference is themed “Higher Education and Social Dynamics” and contributions are accepted on four different thematic tracks:

  • The role(s) of higher education institutions in contemporary society
  • The effects of the wider societal dynamics on higher education
  • Higher education at the borders of Europe
  • Core themes in higher education research

More information about the four tracks and the specific guidelines for abstract formatting requirements can be found here. Please note that the abstracts can be submitted for individual papers and panels consisting of 3-4 papers.

Proposals may be submitted from 23 January until 19 March 2012 (15:00 CET).  

More information about the venue, schedule and practical details can be found on the conference website.