Call for applicants: Magna Charta Observatory is looking for monitors

magnaThe Magna Charta Observatory (MCO) is a non-profit organisation with its base in Bologna. The establishment of the Observatory is linked to the Magna Charta Universitatum – a charter that is currently signed by 388 rectors and heads of higher education institutions in Europe, outlining the principles of academic freedom and institutional autonomy. The Observatory’s main aim is to monitor developments in these areas in Europe. Currently, MCO is looking to expand its monitoring capacity and is therefore looking to appoint Monitors.

Here is the call for applicantsOne of the functions of the Magna Charta Observatory is to monitor the status of institutional autonomy and academic freedom. It acts on behalf of signatories or members of universities and also investigates independently. It commissions case studies on specific issues in individual countries or regions and publishes books and essays on a range of topics, all connected to current issues related to either institutional autonomy or academic freedom. It conducts site visits to universities or university systems in order to explore the situation, always with the self-understanding to offer an objective view, an outside “reference point” to create shared ideas motivating sound and effective relations among actors in higher education and research.

Traditionally, it has relied solely on members of its Council to play a leading role in this work. As the Observatory broadens its geographical reach and as the range of challenges to fundamental values broadens, the Observatory is committed to increasing its capacity to provide its monitoring service. The Council will therefore be selecting and providing training for people who can become part of an accredited group to assist with the development of the Observatory’s protocols, lead and undertake reviews in different parts of the world and produce reports and provide quality assurance of this work.

The Observatory now invites expressions of interest from people in the higher education sector to become members of its monitoring team. It is seeking to recruit a team of 12 people in the first instance. (more…)

The latest Bologna Process communique adopted in Yerevan last week

bolognaLast week, on May 14-15th of 2015 the latest Bologna Process Ministerial Conference and Bologna Policy forum was held in Yerevan, Armenia. The participants of the process met at the event, amongst else to agree upon the most recent communique that sets the agenda for the coming years, and approve new members. At the meeting, Belarus was approved as a member. The approval of Belarus was anticipated, and has been linked to recent geopolitical developments, despite frequent concerns regarding academic freedom in the country.

The 2015 Yerevan conference also marked a shift in main focus. While in 2012 in Bucharest the main topics were the “F-word” (funding) and automatic recognition, there were other themes that were in focus in Yerevan has slowly shifted closer to the core of higher education enterprise – teaching and learning. The Bologna process has arguably had more focus on the structural aspects of higher education systems this far, so one can argue that this shift is a change. One could argue that this is necessary to also create new enthusiasm for the process.

The Yerevan Communique that was adopted highlights  four key priorities, where the quality and relevance of teaching and learning is now set as the “main mission of the EHEA”. In addition to quality, the other two points concern employability and inclusiveness – illustrating how the values in the process have a dual attention on social cohesion while promoting the interests of the labour market as well. While teaching and learning have been put to the forefront, structural reforms remain one of the four key objectives, where degree structure, credits system, quality assurance standards and guidelines, as well as various cooperation in mobility and joint degrees are highlighted as the “foundations of the EHEA”.

In this context, the BFUG has received a task to review and simplify its governance structures. A number of policy measures were also adopted, amongst else the revised version of ESG (European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area), the European Approach for Quality Assurance in Joint Programmes as well as the revised ECTS users guide. It should also be noted that during the conference, a call was made to have more precise instruments to measure implementation. (more…)

Hedda podcast: Party politics and political economy of the welfare states


Professor M. Busemeyer (University of Konstanz)

Episode 47 of our podcast series features Prof. Marius Busemeyer (University of Konstanz).

In the podcast, he discusses some of the key findings from his recent book “Skills and Inequality. Partisan Politics and the Political Economy of Education Reforms in Western Welfare States”. Summarising key aspects of how skill regimes have developed in europe, he further reflects on what he as a researcher found as the most interesting finding and shares his thoughts on the practical implications of his research.

Listen without the Flashplayer

Prof. Marius Busemeyer is Professor of Political Science at the Department of Politics and Public Administration at University of Konstanz. He received his PhD in political science from University of Heidelberg in 2006. Between 2006 and 2010 he worked at Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne, Germany. He further received his Habilitation in Political science at University of Cologne in 2010. From 2011 he has worked as a professor at University of Konstanz where he is a head of department in Politics and Public administration since 2014. In 2010, he received a grant from German National Science Foundation (DFG) (Emmy-Noether Program) for his work on “The Politics of Education and Training Reform in Western Welfare States”, and in 2012 he received the European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant. His main research interests are in the area of comparative political economy, welfare states, public spending, social democratic parties and theories of institutional change.


2 PhD positions available at the University of Oslo – higher education governance and innovation & learning

uio logo nyDepartment of Education at the Faculty of Educational Sciences in the University of Oslo has announced a call for two doctoral research fellowships in the research group ExCID (Expert Cultures and Institutional Dynamics: Studies in higher education and work).

ExCID was formed in 2015 and is a result of a merger of earlier research groups HEIK and FALK at the University of Oslo. The main analytical approaches used in ExCID projects are an institutional perspective on political governance and organizational dynamics, and a cultural perspective on how knowledge and participation possibilities are organized within and among fields of expertise.

The first position is for a candidate specializing in the research field innovation and learning. Within the overall research focus of the ExCID group the candidate’s research project is expected to be targeted on relationships between organizational learning and innovativeness, or alternatively, the research project can be focused on the relationship between learning within working life and change processes in organizations (organizational innovation) or in society (social innovation).

Concerning the second position we are looking for a candidate specializing in the governance of higher education. Relevant project themes are the national and supranational coordination of knowledge policies; agencification in the governance of higher education; and the changing role and use of expertise in the governance of higher education.

The positions are fully funded contracts of 4 years (including 25% requied duties for the department, often including teaching activities). (more…)

New EUA report: mergers on the rise in the EU

definemergersThe European University Association (EUA) has published a new report that examines merger processes in 25 higher education systems in Europe. The report is produced for the DEFINE project, in which EUA looks into excellence initiatives, mergers and performance-based funding across Europe – being also described as a “stock-taking exercise” with aims to provide recommendations for policymakers. The project is funded by the EU.

The report maps merger processes across Europe, and is based on questionnaires, focus group discussions and interviews.

What emerges is that there are different kinds of merger processes that can be identified. They distinguish between horizontal and vertical mergers – in principle whether two more or less equal partners merge, or whether smaller units become part of larger institutions. The other dimension highlighted is the comparability of the institutions in terms of their similarity, and the depth of the integration process.

Another central point is that mergers have at least been discussed in the majority of the systems that were examined, suggesting the prominence of the topic in the political agenda in Europe. In total, almost 100 merger cases were identified in the systems identified in the period 2000-2015. (more…)