Vacancy: Two post-doc positions: “Knowledge and Africa” project and higher education studies in Africa at BIGSAS

bigsasThe Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies(BIGSAS) that is funded by the German Research Foundation within the Excellence Initiative, offers two post-doctoral fellowship positions for the period of two years starting 1 November 2015.

BIGSAS does research on three main areas:

A Uncertainty, Innovation and Competing Orders in Africa
B Knowledge, Communication and Communities in Motion
C Negotiating Change: Discourses, Politics and Practices of Development

The Post-doctoral fellow is expected to develop an innovative, independent and interdisciplinary research project in the field of African Studies and submit a full proposal for research funding within the two years.

One position is offered for a research project on “Knowledge and Africa”. The other position is offered for a project in the area of higher education research on/in Africa.

Deadline for applications 30th of April 2015. 

Read more about the details of the position and application requirements/details here (pdf).

Report analysing PIAAC data reveals that American youth is increasingly better educated but with lower skills


Educational Testing Service (ETS), an US based private non-profit educational testing and assessment organisation has examined PIAAC data for US.

PIAAC is the short version for Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, an OECD led project in 24 countries to examine the skills among adult populations. Here, PIAAC results complement the skills assessment of pupils with PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) and AHELO (Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes). Some of the initial analysis were published in late 2013.

ETS has examined PIAAC data for the US, and in particular for the so-called millenial generation that has been isolated from the total for this report. Their main starting point is that this is the best educated generation in the US history, but this generation also consistently appears to score below international average in literacy, numeracy and problem solving with technology.

Literacy in the PIAAC study is defined as “understanding, evaluating, using and engaging with written texts to participate in society, to achieve one’s goals, and to develop one’s knowledge and potential”, and it was operationalised both as an ability to comprehend and decode text as well as using the text appropriately in context. The test did not measure actual writing skills. Numeracy was defined as “the ability to access, use, interpret and communicate mathematical information and ideas, in order to engage in and manage the mathematical demands of a range of situations in adult life” and its operationalisation included both understanding mathematical information, but also a wider understanding of mathematical content – such as quantity and number; dimension and shape; patterns, relationships and changes; and data and chance. The third skill in focus in the ETS report is “problem solving in technology-rich environments”. While on first glance somewhat cumbersome definition, in PIAAC this refers to digital skills, that is: “using digital technology, communication tools and networks to acquire and evaluate information, communicate with others and perform practical tasks”. Here, a wide range of digital skills were evaluated. (more…)

Hedda Master Programme in Higher Education: European and Nordic admission round!

We are delighted to inform you that the application round for European and Nordic countries is now on its way!

Are you interested in knowing more about the role of higher education in modern knowledge society and how it operates? The Faculty of Education at the University of Oslo (Norway) is proud to offer an award winning 2-year Master of Philosophy Programme in Higher Education.

The two year research focused international programme is the first Master’s programme on higher education in Europe and one of the few in the world covering a broad range of disciplinary perspectives on higher education.

Listen to the Director of Hedda, Professor Peter Maassen talk about the Master Programme:

Or, view two of our students sharing their views of the field and the Master Programme after completing the first semester of the programme.

Multidisciplinary programme

The programme is focused on changing functions, policies, and operations of Higher Education using an international and comparative perspective. The students receive a solid basis for analysing and critically assessing change processes at all relevant levels in higher education – from activities inside the classroom to understanding national and global developments.

International focus

The student body and staff are highly international. The programme has had students from more than forty countries in the world, including faraway places such as Maldives and Vanuatu, as well as USA, China, Brazil, UK, Australia and various European countries. 
In addition, the students have an opportunity to spend parts of their studies in partner institutions abroad.

Innovative and high quality learning environment

The programme features lectures from highly renowned researchers from across the world and is based on multi-faceted modes of delivery and supported by a state of the art e-learning platform. 
In 2009, the Master of Philosophy in Higher Education programme was awarded the prize as the best learning environment at the University of Oslo.

Research integration

The programme is research oriented and the students have the opportunity to have their master thesis integrated into larger research projects and learn first-hand skills of conducting research in a team.

Master Programme Brochure (pdf)

Master Programme Brochure (pdf)

Multiple career opportunities

Understanding the key institution of the knowledge economy – higher education – is a highly valued competence in the modern society. About 40% of the graduates continue onto a PhD, and the graduates of the programme are employed within higher education in various international and supranational organisations, such as the European University Association and the EU, ministries of education and national agencies, as well as university administrations around the world.

Comments from our alumni

Here is what our alumni says!


Alumni spotlight: Jelena Branković

Jelena Branković  (Hedda alumni, now CHEGG)

Jelena Branković
(Hedda alumni, now CHEGG)

In this edition of our alumni spotlights, current Hedda master student Enzo Rossi has asked a few questions from Jelena Branković, who is a Hedda HEEM programme graduate from 2010. 

About Jelena

Jelena Branković is currently a PhD student at the Centre for Higher Education Governance Ghent (CHEGG), at Ghent University. She graduated from the Higher Education Master Programme (HEEM) jointly delivered by the University of Oslo, the University of Tampere, and the University of Aveiro in 2010 and holds a Master’s degree in English Language and Literature obtained from the University of Belgrade.

After obtaining Master’s in Higher Education, she was a researcher at the Centre for Education Policy in Belgrade, where she focused on higher education in the Western Balkans. She joined the CHEGG team in November 2013. In the interview Jelena reflects on her Master programme experience and the role it played in her career so far.

What made you choose the Master programme in Higher Education?

I used to be involved in the Student Union while at the University of Belgrade. That is when I became interested in all sorts of issues related to higher education. After graduation I got my first higher education related job, I became the national coordinator of the European Union’s Tempus programme in Serbia, which is a programme supporting higher education reforms through international cooperation. It was at that point I realised that if I wanted to pursue a career in higher education, I needed to deepen and broaden my knowledge. That is how I ended up in HEEM.

How has what you learned within the Higher Education programme helped you in your career?

First, it helped me better understand my prior experience, which I think was crucial, especially in the beginning. It also helped me decide what I wanted to do in higher education, because there are so many things one can do. For instance, you can work as a policy maker or policy adviser, you can work in university management or administration, you can do research on higher education, you can be a consultant in higher education projects, and so on. Perhaps it was because I found research as something closer to my aspirations, or it was the fact that HEEM programme was more geared towards that type of career, I eventually decided to pursue the research path. And I think that the master programme was an excellent starting point for such a career. Upon graduation I was offered a research position at the Centre for Education Policy in Belgrade where I spent three and a half years working in the field of higher education. Doing a PhD was an obvious next step. Today when I look back at what HEEM gave me, I feel very thankful. (more…)

Widespread opposition to cuts in EU research budget

EUEurope has been struggling with financial crisis in recent years. One of the latest initiatives has been the introduction of EFSI – European Fund for Strategic Investments. After being put forward in late November, the principal plan received political backing in the December meeting of the European Council. The funding available would have its aim to target projects that would boost European economy, as outlined in the press release “to get Europe growing again and get more people back to work“.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commissions president stated that “If Europe invests more, Europe will be more prosperous and create more jobs – it’s as simple as that. The Investment Plan we are putting forward today in close partnership with the European Investment Bank is an ambitious and new way of boosting investment without creating new debt.” More investment without new debt sounds like a great idea. However, this means that the funds for this initiative need to be found from another place.

In this proposal, funding for this investment fund would be partially re-channeled from current European research funding. In a speech to the Parliament, Juncker argued that this would not be an issue as money from EFSI could also be used for research and that this would be “maximizing input”. This claim can be taken with some caution, as the secretary general of LERU noted, there are no earmarked funds, so the funding that is drawn from research can go for any kind of projects in EFSI. Initial overviews show that most of the projects would in fact have a different character.

The plan has been faced with considerable opposition in the university/research sector, where one sector representative called described the proposal as Cutting Horizon to improve the competitiveness of Europe equals cutting off your nose to spite your face’. LERU, the League of European Research Universities also quickly reacted on the proposal, arguing that EFSI was a “vague and highly uncertain project”. They also refer to the frequent attempts to squeeze European research funding: “It should be clear for the EU institutions and the member states that Horizon 2020 is not a lemon which can be squeezed according to the flavour of the day!”. Euroscience, an association for researchers and research professionals, has highlighted how the basic idea is unproductive as the very idea of investing in European research is based on the principle of creating growth. However, despite initial opposition, the plan has moved forward.  (more…)