Tag: stratification

Recorded seminar on consumerism in American higher education

We are delighted to share with you another seminar recording from the research group HEIK (Higher Education: Institutional dynamics and Knowledge cultures). HEIK is a research group located at the Faculty of Educational Sciences in University of Oslo, the coordinating institution of Hedda.

Professor Christopher Morphew  (University of Iowa)

Professor Christopher Morphew
(University of Iowa)

This time, we are pleased to feature professor Christopher Morphew from University of Iowa who visited University of Oslo in June 2014 and gave a presentation titled: “Academic Consumerism: The American Advantage?

Listen without the Flashplayer

The presentation will draw from several recent articles by Professor Morphew.

Please see: 




Growing criticism towards German university alliances?

Jens Jungblut (University of Oslo)

Jens Jungblut (University of Oslo)

In this post, Hedda associate Jens Jungblut examines current developments with the German university alliances. Jens is working at the University of Oslo where he is writing his doctoral dissertation on the relationship between shifts in governments and changes in higher education policy. 

Institutional differentiation is something rather new to the German university landscape. While classically German universities were, and to a large extend still are, characterized by equality of funding and reputation, different recent activities aimed at creating more diversification in the system. The first and most influential of these activities was the excellence initiative by the federal and Länder governments. In a parallel process several universities formed alliances and associations, following the British example of the Russell-Group, to cooperate in a situation of growing competition for funding and students (see also an earlier article on this issue).

Open letter from a rector criticizing university alliances

Recently the debate around the differentiation of the German university system entered a new round. Ulrich Radtke, the rector of the University of Duisburg-Essen, published an open letter to the German rectors’ conference, in which he criticized the decision of his colleagues to form university alliances.

The University of Duisburg-Essen is the youngest universities in Germany and not a member of any of the German university associations. It is the result of a recent merger of two smaller universities and characterized by a relatively high percentage of students of non-traditional background.

Radtke criticizes several aspects of the newly established university alliances. He starts off by describing the university alliances as co-operations of the old and large universities against the young and smaller ones that try to enhance their position in a higher education system that is characterized by serious under-funding and student overload. For him the German higher education system offers a lot of excellent research environments but they are to be found on the departmental level and spread between many higher education institutions. For him there are maybe three or four universities in Germany that could claim to be overall stronger than the others, the rest are more or less equal.




All different but no longer all equal? New university alliance in Germany

Jens Jungblut (University of Oslo)

Hedda associate Jens Jungblut examines the establishment of a new university alliance in Germany and the implications of this to the system.

The foundation of the university alliance and lobby group German U15, encompassing 15 of the large comprehensive and research intensive universities could mark yet another step in the break-up of the classical formal equality of universities in Germany and could have serious impact on the position of the rectors’ conference as well as the cooperation between politics and the higher education sector in general.

The German universities have been characterised by a formal and structural equality for a long time. Although several universities always had a better reputation for certain subjects, stemming mainly from the employed professors, there was no top-down structural stratification between the universities and all institutions received their core funding based more or less on the same criteria (with some differences between the Bundesländer). It was only with the start of the excellence initiative of the federal government and the Bundesländer that one could identify a group of universities that would be regarded in the public arena as better than other and for this would also receive a significant amount of additional funds. However, the recent foundation of an alliance of 15 large German comprehensive and research intensive universities, the German U15, indicates that the dynamics that the excellence initiative introduced to the higher education system in a top-down manner are continued through bottom-up collaborations.