Commission Working Document on recent developments in European high education systems Accompanying the document Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions Supporting growth and jobs - an agenda for the modernisation of Europe's higher education systems - Hoofdinhoud
COUNCIL OFBrussels, 22 September 2011
THE EUROPEAN UNION
14198/11 ADD 1
EDUC 234 COMPET 392 RECH 298 SOC 803
Secretary-General of the European Commission, signed by Mr Jordi AYET PUIGARNAU, Director
date of receipt: 22 September 2011
to: Mr Uwe CORSEPIUS, Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union
No Cion doc.: SEC(2011) 1063 final
Subject: Commission Working Document on recent developments in European high education systems Accompanying the document Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions Supporting growth and jobs - an agenda for the modernisation of Europe's higher education systems
Brussels, 20.9.2011 SEC(2011) 1063 final
COMMISSION WORKING DOCUMENT
on recent developments in European high educations systems
Accompanying the document
COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN
PARLIAMENT, THE COUNCIL, THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL
COMMITTEE AND THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
Supporting growth and jobs an agenda for the modernisation of Europe's higher
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1.Introduction .................................................................................................................. 3
1.The changing face of European higher education........................................................ 3
1.1. European higher education: a diverse institutional landscape ..................................... 3
1.2. Convergence in European higher education systems................................................... 5
2.The contribution of higher education to smart, sustainable and inclusive growth....... 8
2.1. Higher education's contribution to the EU growth agenda .......................................... 8
2.2. Higher education and employment .............................................................................. 9
2.3. Higher education, social returns and economic performance .................................... 14
3.The changing demographics of higher education ...................................................... 16
3.1. The massification of higher education ....................................................................... 16
3.2. The social dimension of higher education: who are today's students? ...................... 21
3.3. Entry routes to higher education ................................................................................ 26
3.4. The impact of demographic aging.............................................................................. 28
4.Responding to the skills challenge ............................................................................. 30
4.1. Europe's changing skills requirements ....................................................................... 30
4.2. Key implications for higher education ....................................................................... 32
4.3. ICT in higher education ............................................................................................. 37
4.4. The added value of learning mobility ........................................................................ 39
Higher education plays an essential role in Europe's collective well-being, creating new knowledge, transmitting it to students and fostering innovation. Within Europe, national and regional governments are responsible for education and training systems and individual higher education institutions have considerable, albeit variable, autonomy in organising their own activities. However, many challenges facing higher education are similar across the EU and there are clear advantages in working together. The role of the European Commission is thus to support the efforts of public authorities and institutions themselves to modernise Europe's higher education systems to respond to today's social and economic challenges.
Against this backdrop, the Commission's Communication on Supporting growth and jobs an agenda for the modernisation of Europe's higher education systems presents an updated reform agenda for higher education in Europe to help focus European support, as well as action at national and institutional level.
This Staff Working Paper provides background information and evidence to underpin the messages of the Communication, covering the following issues:
(1) The key characteristics of higher education in today's Europe;
(2) Evidence on the economic and social contribution of higher education
(3) The changing student population;
(4) The evolving skills requirements to which higher education needs to respond;
(5) The ways higher education institutions contribute to innovation;
(6) Funding and governance of higher education at system and institutional level
higher education systems has a positive impact on performance2. In comparison to more
homogenous systems, diversified higher education systems are argued to:
(1) Meet a wider range of student needs : a more diversified system is better able to offer access to higher education to students with different educational backgrounds, with a positive influence on overall levels of access and on social mobility;
(2) Respond better to labour market needs : institutional diversity makes it easier to meet the requirements of a changing labour market, with an increasing variety of specialisations;
(3) Be more effective : diversity favours institutional specialisation, which allows higher education institutions to focus their attention and energy on what they do best;
(4) Be more innovative : diversity offers greater possibilities for exploring new approaches, without the need for all institutions to implement changes at the same time, reducing risks and favouring mutual learning.
Differences between higher education systems are also important. National and regional systems serve the needs of their own populations, societies and economies. There can be no "one size fits all" for the most appropriate mix of institutional types and forms. Those responsible for defining the legal and administrative frameworks for higher education across Europe face the challenge of creating the conditions for the most appropriate institutional mix for their specific requirements. But to do this, it is first important to understand the existing diversity that exists within and between individual systems.
Whereas the US has long had the Carnegie Classifications3 as a tool to help understand the
American higher education landscape and facilitate the task of taking a system-wide perspective, no such consistent overview currently exists in Europe, where the diversity of national systems makes such classification even more challenging. The EU-sponsored U-Map and U-Multirank projects have sought to address this gap in knowledge.
Launched in May 2009, the U-Multirank feasibility study builds on the experience of the U-Map project. The core objective of the work has been to develop and test a tool to provide comparable and accurate information on higher education programmes and institutions, going beyond the research focus found in most existing comparisons and rankings. This has involved defining indicators and collecting data directly from 150 higher education institutions within and outside the EU on their activities and performance in the five areas used in the U-Map classification. The test phase has initially focused on the fields of engineering and business studies.
The data tool developed has been designed to allow users to generate personalised rankings, making it possible to compare institutions using a wider range of variables than used in existing university rankings. The results of the study, presented at a final conference on 9 June 2011, show that this multidimensional ranking concept is workable in practice, although further work will be needed to refine the indicators used in certain dimensions. As the Multirank concept relies on the new data and the voluntary participation of institutions, gaining the buy-in of institutions will be crucial. The European Commission is now working on proposals to further develop the information tool.
1.2. Convergence in European higher education systems
Although diversity remains a dominant characteristic of the higher education landscape in Europe, intensive cooperation between European countries over the last decade has also brought about a significant degree of convergence. Efforts have been focused on creating the European Higher Education and Research Areas, in which national higher education and research systems become more compatible and comparable, thus facilitating increased interaction and mobility of students, graduates and staff across borders.
The development of the European Higher Education Area
With the 1999 Bologna Declaration, the governments of 29 European countries agreed to establish a coherent and attractive European Higher Education Area (EHEA). Since extended
to 47 countries
6, the core focus of the Bologna Process has been on structural reforms aimed
achieved, thus allowing comparison with the Qualifications Framework for the European Higher Education Area (QF-EHEA)
(4) Recognised national quality assurance systems, consistent with European Standards and Guidelines (ESG) for quality assurance adopted in 2005 and articulated at European level
(5) Mutual recognition of qualifications and learning credits (supported by the elements above), in line with the Lisbon Recognition Convention
In addition to these structural reforms, the initial scope of the Bologna Process was swiftly expanded to encompass the social dimension
12 of higher education - in particular widening
access to under-represented groups - and measures to embed higher education into wider systems of lifelong learning. The Bologna Process has provided the EU's own higher education modernisation agenda with additional momentum. The European Commission has supported the work of the Bologna Follow-up Group (BFUG) and funded Bologna-related initiatives, notably under the centralised actions of the Erasmus strand of the Lifelong Learning Programme
Implementation of the Bologna Process has been monitored closely by the main stakeholder groups
14.While the different assessments of progress start from different perspectives, there is
a broad consensus that Bologna has led to greater convergence in the architecture of national higher education systems and has achieved real impact in higher education institutions and systems across the EU.
Figure 1-1: Bologna "Scorecards" degree structure, quality assurance, recognition, 2009
Bologna Scorecard 2009: average scores in the three areas (max.= 15 score points)
UK UK EW
Source: Bologna Stocktaking Report 2009
(UK SCOT: Scotland, UK EW I: England, Wales and orthern Ireland)
As shown in
Figure 1-1, based on the stock-taking exercise undertaken for the 2009 meeting of Bologna ministers in Leuven and Louvain-la-Neuve, nearly all EU Member States have made considerable progress in the core Bologna areas of degree structure reform, establishment of quality systems for higher education and recognition of learning outcomes gained abroad. This is a pattern confirmed by the European University Association's most
recent Trends review, which found 95% of higher education institutions in Europe had implemented the Bologna degree structure
15.However, the same review highlights ongoing
variation between Member States in the implementation of structural reforms at system level.
In particular, the Bologna Process reforms have not been applied consistently to all types of higher education programmes, with courses in specific professional fields, including medicine, veterinary science, architecture and law, have more frequently retained distinct degree structures. Moreover, as the Bologna Process focused on course structure, rather than the substance of what is taught, there has been limited convergence in the content education programmes in professional fields. This creates particular challenges for authorities at national level dealing with academic or professional recognition of diplomas obtained in other Member States.
student workload and learning outcomes: a 2010 study16 found that full
implementation had been achieved in only 12 countries in the EHEA.
· The development of National Qualifications Frameworks has proved to be challenging, leading to an extension of the deadline for implementation until 2012: the existence of NQFs, linked to the overarching Qualifications Framework for the European Higher Education Area
17 and the European Qualifications Framework
(EQF)18, is an important pre-requisite for smooth recognition of learning outcomes
· There is evidence of students and graduates still facing considerable difficulties in achieving recognition for qualifications and credits gained abroad
· Quality assurance systems frequently focus on the accreditation of specific programmes based on minimum quality thresholds, rather than actively seeking to stimulate continuous improvement in the programmes that meet the minimum standards. Studies have highlighted an ongoing perception of variation in the quality of higher education between countries, which undermines the effective functioning
of the EHEA
· Progression routes into higher education from other parts of the education system and well developed procedures for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) are absent or in need of improvement in many Member States
· Considerable differences exist in Member States' interpretation of the social dimension of the Bologna Process and there are comparatively few examples of significant policy reform in this area (see below
· While the place of higher education in lifelong learning systems is recognised as a relevant policy issue in most Member States, this remains a peripheral concern in many countries
can subsequently draw upon as individuals (creating "individual returns" in terms of personal fulfilment and income) and for the good of society and economy more generally (so-called "societal returns"). Second, as centres of knowledge creation, higher education institutions are able to contribute to innovation in the wider economy, notably through exchanging expertise, knowledge and research findings with other economic actors.
These two main processes are closely inter-linked. For example, human capital development is a pre-requisite for excellent basic and applied research and effective knowledge transfer activities. At the same time, the quality and relevance of higher education institutions' human capital development activities - essentially their study programmes is influenced by inputs from the world of research and from actors in the wider economy.
As stressed in the Europe 2020 Strategy, the availability of highly skilled human capital and well-functioning innovation systems are crucial perquisites for Europe's future well-being.
As discussed in more depth in Section
4, a significant body of evidence underlines the importance of a skilled workforce in underpinning the type of knowledge-based economy that will allow the EU to compete effectively with other world regions. Highly skilled, creative individuals with critical mindsets are needed to create the businesses of the future and more generally to help business and the public sector to innovate. Within this context, higher education staff play a crucial role in transmitting knowledge through well-designed and structured programmes of education and research. At the same time, programmes need to be based on scientific excellence and can benefit from insights from business and other organisations external to higher education. As discussed in more detail below, higher education increases the employment and earnings potential of individuals, which, in turn, has positive impacts on social inclusion.
Better exploitation of the expertise and knowledge found in higher education institutions can strengthen innovation potential and, thus, economic performance at regional, national and European level. Research and development work in higher education institutions also makes a decisive contribution to Europe's response to environmental challenges and the EU's long- term environmental sustainability.
stands at over 82% and is above 75% (the Europe 2020 employment target) in all Member States.
Figure 2-1: Employment rates by level of educational attainment - 20-64 years (2010 Q4)
Low er Secondary513749.8 51.5 52.5 56.7 4538.7 39.7 28.7 45.5 31.2 47.1 53.3 54.6 45.5 50.8 67.3 6242.3 53.8 55.4 57.6 56.7 61.5 67.7 62.2 63.3
Upper Secondary77.3 62.4 67.3 62.4 63.2 59.4 62.4 66.6 62.8 66.4 63.3 59.9 70.8 69.9 70.6 67.9 6970.6 67.6 71.4 7175.3 77.4 75.4 77.6 74.1 79.6 79.5
Tertiary83.9 77.7 76.6 81.5 77.1 77.5 79.8 82.8 82.9 77.0 82.4 8682.6 82.3 80.4 79.6 85.9 81.5 81.3 81.5 84.6 84.2 85.1 86.7 85.8 83.2 87.1 88
Source: Eurostat, EU Labour Force Survey
The "employment advantage" of tertiary graduates over those with only upper secondary qualifications is highest in central and eastern European Member States
24, along with Greece
and Ireland, where employment rates for tertiary education graduates remain near the EU average, but rates for the less qualified population are comparatively low. Even in countries such as Austria, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden where the labour market participation differences between qualification groups are lowest, employment rates among tertiary graduates still exceed those among upper secondary graduates by at least 7.5 percentage points.
Figure 2-2: Employment rates by age group (2010 Q4)
t e ( %
TotalAt most lowerAt most upperTertiary
Source: Eurostat, EU Labour Force Survey
While the effects of the recent economic crisis on employment in the EU have been severe, the impact on tertiary education graduates has been less dramatic than on those with lower levels of qualification. At the end of 2010, the average unemployment rate among graduates in the EU was 5.4%, compared to an overall unemployment rate of 9.3%. Moreover, as shown i
n Figure 2-3, graduate unemployment remains significantly below that experienced by those with lower levels of qualification in all Member States. This said, (tertiary) graduate unemployment is around or above 6% in eight Member States (Greece, Estonia, Lithuania, Ireland, Portugal and Slovakia) and is running at over 10% in two (Spain and Latvia).
Figure 2-3: Annual unemployment rates by highest level of education attained 2010
NLLUAT CYUKDKCZDE ROSISEFIBEITFREUPLBGHUPTELIESKEELTLVES
Low er Secondary6.2 5.38.2 7.3129.224166.7 12.6 13.5 13.0 14.7 10.0 14.6 15.4 18.2 22.7 24.7 12.2 12.6 21.1 43 30.2 39.8 30.2 26.3
Upper Secondary3.843.9 6.176.9 6.86.987.57.3 8.7 7.97.6 8.48.7 10.3 9.3 10.5 10.9 14.2 15.2 13.7 19.3 21.7 20.1 18.8
Tertiary2.8 3.82.4 5.7 4.14.9 2.83.1 5.4 4.34.5 4.5 4.55.8 5.55.454.54.7 7.2 9.87.5 5.89.5 7.8 10.5 11.3
Source: Eurostat, EU Labour Force Survey
Comparing unemployment rates among the different qualification groups before and after the height of the economic crisis (average rates for the years 2008 and 2010 See
Figure 2-4), serves to confirm the general pattern that higher education graduates have been comparatively protected from unemployment. However, two main caveats should be highlighted. Firstly, although unemployment among graduates has increased far less dramatically than among lower qualified groups in most Member States, there have been increases in 26 EU countries and the rate has more than doubled in six (the three Baltic States, Ireland, Romania and Denmark), with the attendant social consequences. Secondly, in a small number of Member States graduate unemployment rates have bucked the general trend, with either increases higher than for other qualification groups (Romania and Cyprus) or lower rates of decline (Germany and Luxembourg).
such as the new European Vacancy Monitor26 as well as future skills requirements is
required to fully understand the extent of such mismatches.
Figure 2-4: Percentage point change in unemployment rates by educational attainment - 2008 to 2010
LUDE ATBEITNL ROFRFIUK SE CYPLEU CZSIPTHU DK BG SKELIEESLVEELT
Low er Secondary -0.7 -0.612.722.5-13.443.9 4.9 2.3 5.6 4.6 5.664.2 6.4 5.1 8.4 4.8 5.2 11.8 1217 20.1 27.1
Upper Secondary-1.9 -0.3 0.8 1.1 1.8 1.6 2.4 1.8 2.4 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.9 2.5 3.2 3.3 3.3 3.4 4.2 4.9 5.8 5.7 9.4 8.6 12.6 13.6 15.2
Tertiary1.4 -0.2 0.6 0.9 1.2 1.2 2.711.2 1.3 1.1 2.7 1.2 1.6 1.1 0.9 0.2 1.9 2.6 2.2 2.2 3.5 4.1 4.9 6.3 6.5 4.8
Source: Eurostat, EU Labour Force Survey
Notwithstanding the more negative graduate employment trends observed recently in certain Member States, the private returns for higher education graduates in terms of earnings potential remain good.
Table 2-1, showing the median net income in EU Member States for the population aged 18-64, with different levels of qualification. It highlights that those with higher educational attainment earn more in all Member States (despite very large variation in average earnings between countries). The highest income premiums for tertiary graduates, compared to those with only upper secondary qualifications are found in Central and Eastern Europe, Portugal and Greece and the lowest in the Nordic countries, Austria, the Netherlands and Belgium. These aggregate figures naturally hide variations in the earning outcomes of graduates from different disciplines. While on average a higher education qualification is likely to allow an individual to achieve higher earnings than someone with a lower level of qualification, this is naturally not always the case.
Table 2-1: Annual median equivalised net income for the population aged 18-64 by educational attainment (2009)
secondary Upper secondary
Figures in Euro education education
EU 27 12,700 14,800 21,500
Belgium 15,400 19,800 25,000
Bulgaria 1,900 3,100 4,100
Czech Republic 5,900 7,400 9,700
Denmark 21,000 25,400 30,600
Germany 15,500 18,300 23,200
Estonia 4,500 6,000 8,100
Ireland 17,700 23,800 32,100
Greece 9,700 11,900 17,600
Spain 11,500 14,800 19,500
France 17,600 20,200 25,900
Italy 13,800 18,200 24,500
Cyprus 13,100 17,700 23,600
Latvia 3,700 5,600 8,200
Lithuania 3,500 4,700 7,400
Luxembourg 27,100 32,800 46,400
Hungary 4,000 4,900 6,800
Malta 9,100 12,200 15,500
Netherlands 17,400 20,500 26,200
Austria 16,100 20,900 25,300
Poland 4,000 5,100 8,100
Portugal 7,900 10,700 17,900
Romania 1,600 2,500 4,400
Slovenia 9,900 11,900 16,500
Slovakia 4,500 5,700 7,500
Finland 16,700 20,600 26,900
Sweden 17,100 21,500 25,100
United Kingdom 12,800 16,300 22,900
Source: Eurostat, EU-SILC, 2009 (dataset: ilc_di08).
Comparing the average income levels of graduates with those of individuals who did not pursue higher education is a key component in assessing the private returns to higher education. However, the other side of the equation the private costs of pursuing higher education resulting from living expenses and, increasingly, tuition or registration fees also plays an important role in calculating rates of return and affects individual decisions on whether or not to continue studying
accurate estimation of the scale of such social returns is far more complex than for individuals. In the narrowest sense, social rates of return to investment in the teaching function of higher education focus on the productivity of graduates compared to those with lower levels of qualification. Ideally, estimation of social returns should also include a wider set of external benefits that higher education graduates bring to society (social externalities). Research into the effect of investment in higher education on productivity has revealed a clear positive correlation and overall positive rates of "social return": in other words, investment in higher education is "profitable", once the costs of investment and social opportunity costs have been factored in. Further progress is required in order to be able to assess the wider social impacts of higher education, which are inherently more difficult to measure.
The positive impact of higher education attainment on productivity is an important explanatory factor in the relatively strong correlation between levels of higher education attainment and overall economic output (GDP) per capita, as illustrated i
n Figure 2-5.
Figure 2-5: Higher education attainment (30-34 year olds) and GDP per capita in 2010
api t a
(ISCED 429). A second group includes EU Member States where higher education attainment
rates are comparatively high in relation to current levels of GDP per capita. These are all Central and Eastern European Member States (notably the three Baltic States and Poland) which have seen a transition from centrally planned to market-based economies in the last two decades. The ongoing process of economic restructuring means the economic benefits of a highly qualified workforce are not yet fully reflected in output levels.
3. THE CHANGING DEMOGRAPHICS OF HIGHER EDUCATION
Having examined the influence of higher education and related research activities on employment and economic performance at a "macro" level, it is useful to examine different aspects of Europe's higher education systems in more depth. This section focuses on human capital development and, more specifically Europe's population of students and graduates.
3.1. The massification of higher education
Between 2000 and 2009, the number of higher education students in the EU increased by 22.3% to reach over 19.4 million. This trend corresponding to an average annual growth rate of 2.3% - occurred against the backdrop of a slowly decreasing population of 20-24 year olds in the EU (the typical student age cohort) and is explained by significant growth in higher education participation rates in the EU population and an increase in the number of students from outside Europe studying in the EU
Table 3-1: Tertiary students by country (2000-2009)
Number of tertiary students Growth
(in 1000) per year
2000 2008 2009 2000-09
EU-27 15921 19040 19473 2.3
Belgium 356 402 425 2.0
Bulgaria 261 264 274 0.5
Czech Republic 254 393 417 5.7
Number of tertiary students Growth
(in 1000) per year
2000 2008 2009 2000-09
Austria 261 285 308 1.9
Poland 1580 2166 2150 3.5
Portugal 374 377 373
Romania 453 1057 1098 10.3
Slovenia 84 115 114 3.5
Slovakia 136 229 235 6.3
Finland 270 310 297 1.0
Sweden 347 407 423 2.2
United Kingdom 2024 2329 2415 2.0
Source: Eurostat, UOE
As shown in
Table 3-1 , the highest rates of increase in student numbers have been seen in the
newer EU Member States (EU-12), which, with the exception of Bulgaria, have all seen growth rates in enrolment figures in excess of the EU-27 average. Romania and Cyprus have both seen annual increases in student numbers of over 10%, reflecting the large-scale expansion of higher education provision in both countries from 2000 onwards. In contrast, countries in Northern, Western and Southern Europe most of which already had higher rates of higher education participation saw lower levels of growth. Spain was the only country to register a small decrease in student numbers over the same period.
Despite the large-scale expansion of higher education in the last decade, the EU as a whole still lags behind many of its competitors in terms of the proportion of the active population with a tertiary education qualification. As shown in
Figure 3-1, despite increases in recent years
31, only 26% of the population aged between 25 and 64 in the EU has a tertiary education
qualification, compared with 37% of the equivalent Australian population, over 40% of US and Japanese residents and 50% of those living in Canada. Although the best performing EU Member States have higher or similar levels of higher education attainment to the US, attainment levels in Central and Eastern European Member States (except Estonia and Lithuania), Italy, Malta and Greece remain below 25% (less than half the 2008 Canadian rate).
Figure 3-1: Tertiary graduates as a share of the working age population (25-64)32
at i o
3534 3435 35 35 36 36
i t h
2523 2324 24
5- 615131415 15
MT RO IT PT CZ SK AT HU PL BG SI EL EU DE LV FR ES NL LT DK SE BE UK EE LU CY IEFI AU KO US JP CA
2010 (with %) 13 14 15 15 17 17 19 20 23 23 24 24 26 27 27 29 31 32 33 34 34 35 35 35 36 36 37 38
200913 13 15 15 16 16 19 20 21 23 23 23 25 26 26 29 30 33 31 34 33 33 33 36 35 34 36 37 37 39 41 44 50
Source: Eurostat (EU-27) OECD 2011b (US, Australia [AU], Korea [KO], Japan [JP], Canada [CA])
As part of the Europe 2020 Strategy, EU governments have agreed an attainment target for higher education among those aged 30-34 of 40% by 2020. This more specific age range was chosen to make it easier to chart progress, by focusing on the typical age cohort for recent graduates. As shown in
Figure 3-2, there has been a sharp increase in higher education attainment rates among this age cohort across the EU, with the EU average for the Europe 2020 benchmark rising from 22.4% in 2000 to 33.6% in 2010.
Figure 3-2: Tertiary educational attainment among those aged 30-34 (2000-2010)33
Lit huania 42,6
Unit ed Kingdom29,0
Net herlands 26,5
Est onia 30,8
Lat via 18,6
Greece 25,4m a
Bulgaria 19,5c h
Aust ria 15,9
Port ugal 11,3
It aly 11,6
M alt a 7,4
Figure 3-3: Tertiary education attainment: 2010 levels and national targets 34
40 40 40 40
323032 32 33
t t a302828
t i o2322
IENO DK LU SEFI CY FR BE LT UK ES NLISEE PLSIEU LV DE EL BG HU PT AT HR SK CZIT MT RO TR
2010 attainment levelEurope 2020 targetEurope 2020 national target
Source: Eurostat, EU Labour Force Survey
Nine Member States35 have set national targets at levels above the 40% EU target; seven36
have set national targets at the level of the EU target, while nine Member States37 have targets
below 40%. The Netherlands and the UK have not set national targets. On the basis of the 2010 figures, six Member States (DK, EE, FI, LT, LU, SE) have already reached their national target and the EU as a whole is on course to meet the Europe 2020 target by 2020
Nevertheless, particular efforts will be required to increase higher education participation and graduation levels in the other Member States, and in particular the 11 countries where attainment rates currently remain below 30% of the relevant age cohort.
Figure 3-4 shows, in addition to the higher education attainment indicator presented above, the proportion of 30-34 year olds with different forms of post secondary, non tertiary education (ISCED 4) qualifications in the Member States. This distinguishes between attainment of qualifications classed as ISCED 4a or 4b, which typically give access to higher education studies (and can often count as credits towards a higher education qualification) and other types of post secondary, non tertiary qualification, which generally do not give access to higher education. Figure 3-4 illustrates the scale of the particular ISCED 4a and 4b qualification systems in Germany and Austria (reflected in national Europe 2020 targetsFigure 3-4 shows, in addition to the higher education attainment indicator presented above, the proportion of 30-34 year olds with different forms of post secondary, non tertiary education (ISCED 4) qualifications in the Member States. This distinguishes between attainment of qualifications classed as ISCED 4a or 4b, which typically give access to higher education studies (and can often count as credits towards a higher education qualification) and other types of post secondary, non tertiary qualification, which generally do not give access to higher education.
Figure 3-4 illustrates the scale of the particular ISCED 4a and 4b qualification systems in Germany and Austria (reflected in national Europe 2020 targets
but also highlights the prevalence of similar qualification types in the Baltic States, Sweden, Romania and Hungary. For a number of other Member States
42 it is not possible to make a
clear distinction between types of ISCED 4 education. Other Member States, including Ireland, Poland and Greece have substantial ISCED 4 sectors, the qualifications from which do not generally give direct access to ISCED 5.
Figure 3-4: Tertiary and "post secondary, non tertiary" attainment levels for 30-34 year olds in 201043
27SIPLEEESNLUKFRLTBE CYFISELU DKIE
ISCED 4 other1.41.8 188.8.131.52 184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11 18.104.22.1683.8
The underlying rationale for this commitment was broadly twofold. Firstly, there is what can be termed the "social justice argument"
45, which emphasises the need to ensure equity in
access to higher education as part of fostering a balanced, socially cohesive society. Secondly, there is the more pragmatic "human capital argument", which stresses the need to maximise the development of talent as a means to meet increasing skills demand from the labour market. Both these arguments are fundamentally consistent with the EU's Europe 2020 goals of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
From a policy perspective, realising the goal of a socially representative student cohort requires both a good understanding of the current make-up of the student population in Europe and well-tailored action to increase higher education participation among currently under-represented groups. Policy across the EU has tended to focus on three main areas: a) gender, b) socio-economically disadvantaged groups (including minority ethnic groups and the disabled) and c) older age cohorts wishing to enter (or return to) higher education.
The gender balance within the student population
The most recent data on the student population in EU Member States confirms the well established pattern that women are proportionally more likely than men to enter higher education. Women account for more than half the student cohort at pre-doctoral level (ISCED 5) in all but two Member States (Cyprus and Luxembourg). This pattern is reflected in the higher education attainment figures, which show that female graduates outnumber male graduates the 25-35 age cohort in all Member States
46 and in the overall working age
Figure 3-5: Proportion of female students at ISCED 5 and ISCED 6 in 2009
CYLUELDE NLPTATFIIEESBE FRBG EU RO MT HUUK CZITPLSIDKLTSE SKEE LV
ISCED 5 46.8 48.3 50.3 51.4 51.9 53.3 53.7 54.1 54.2 54.2 55.1 55.5 55.7 55.8 56.5 56.7 56.9 57.3 57.4 57.8 58 58.1 58.6 59.3 60.7 61.1 62.1 63.7
ISCED 6 48.1 39.2 43.843.6 55.4 45.5 52.9 48.4 51.9 44 46.7 51.348.6 29.7 48.6 46.5 40.9 52.8 51.9 51.1 46.8 58.2 49.6 46.8 56.7 60
Source: Eurostat. Data for GR and LU are for 2008. No ISCED 6 data for DE
The overall pattern of higher education participation at ISCED 5 level shown in
conceals considerable differences in the gender balance within specific disciplines and study fields. Thus, on an EU level, women are over-represented to an even greater extent than in the general student population in both the humanities and law
48, while men account for a majority
of students in the fields of "science, maths and computing" and "engineering, manufacturing and construction"
49.Furthermore, although women outnumber men in the pre-doctoral levels
of higher education, the reverse is true for doctoral students in 16 of the 26 Member States for which relevant data are available. Given the importance of doctoral-level education as a pre- requisite for research careers, this comparative under-representation of women in the highest levels of study has an impact on the numbers of women in university faculty and in research professions.
and the United Kingdom routinely use more than five distinct categories for monitoring student participation, France, Luxembourg and Sweden focus only on students from low income backgrounds.
Across the EU, under-representation in higher education is most often linked to socio- economic background or parents' educational attainment, or to minority status or disability. The latest report of the Eurostudent project
51, based on surveys of students in a majority of
EU Member States and other European countries52, examines a number of measures of the
social background of students, including the educational and occupational profile of their parents.
Figure 3-6: Educational profile of students' fathers -
Source: Eurostudent (2011), p.50 o data for England and Wales, SI, SE, LT
individuals with fathers with low levels of qualification are proportionally over-represented in higher education, while in the Netherlands and Ireland the proportion of students with such fathers is almost exactly in line with the pattern in the national population as a whole. The higher education systems in these countries could thus be seen to be relatively inclusive and to have a high potential to influence social mobility. In contrast, while over 60% of the Italian and 35% of the French male populations aged 40-60 have no more than lower secondary qualifications, fewer than 40% of Italian students and under 20% of French students report having a father with this level of qualification. Such patterns suggest a greater level of inter- generational reproduction in terms of educational attainment and a lower potential impact on social mobility.
The relative under-representation of students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds in higher education is related to a complex set of factors of which lower levels of attainment in secondary education and more limited educational aspirations are the most frequently cited. Lower levels of the educational system have an important influence on the likelihood of individuals from different backgrounds to enter higher education. Evidence shows
54 that in systems that tend towards early educational streaming and selection, students
from lower socio-economic status backgrounds are statistically more likely to 'opt for' (or have no option but to opt for) a vocational training route, from where it is more difficult to continue to higher education. As a consequence, some countries (for example Finland, Ireland and Sweden) have sought to introduce more flexibility in progression routes, making it easier to move from forms of education and training that do not traditionally lead to higher education
55.This is also an important element in attracting older learners to higher education
A 2010 Eurydice survey showed that most EU Member States have expressed an intention in their policies to promote the "social dimension" of higher education in line with the broad objectives of the Bologna Process. However, very few appear to have translated this into formal commitments to raising the participation of under-represented groups to the point where the higher education population mirrors the overall societal distribution of such groups. Indeed, it is more common for countries to take measures to increase overall participation in higher education and to hope that in so doing the numbers of students from under-represented groups will also rise. Targets, where they do exist, tend to relate to increasing participation of individuals with lower socio-economic status and/or students whose parents have relatively low educational attainment levels. Eurydice found that Belgium (Flemish Community) France, Ireland and the United Kingdom (Scotland) have implemented measures in this respect.
trend in strategic policy and at institutional level to develop the role of higher education institutions as providers of shorter continuing education programmes to those already in the labour market.
Figure 3-7 shows the age profile of the student populations in mainstream pre-doctoral programmes (ISCED 5a and 5b) in the EU Member States. This serves to illustrate two main patterns. Firstly and less directly relevant here - those countries where students typically enter (and complete) higher education at a comparatively young age
56.Secondly, as reflected
in the order of the countries in the figure, the proportion of older learners (those over 35) in the overall student population at undergraduate or masters level. In this context, Sweden and the UK stand out as particularly successful systems in attracting older learners, with over 20%
of their ISCED 5 students over 35. The same age cohort makes up over 14% of the student populations in Denmark, Latvia and Finland and accounts for over 10% of students in a further eight Member States.
Figure 3-7: Age profile of higher education students (ISCED 5a and 5b) - 2009
recent decades often introduced more vocationally oriented pathways to university, while the increasing preoccupation with widening access and ensuring social equity has ensured the issue of "progression routes" remains high on the policy agenda
57.There is a growing
recognition that secondary education systems tend to reinforce existing socio-economic differences between pupils and work against equal access to higher education
of the importance of up-skilling the labour force and to encourage lifelong learning, national and EU policy has sought to prevent "dead-ends" in educational systems, which prevent individuals from progressing to higher levels.
As illustrated i
n Figure 3-8 - a conceptual framework for entry routes to higher education developed as part of the Eurostudent project alongside the traditional route from academic upper secondary (ISCED 3A) level to higher education (ISCED 5), a range of alternative routes may exist. These include more vocational streams, including foundation courses or similar programmes at post-secondary, non-tertiary level (ISCED 4a or b) as well as mechanisms to assess and validate prior learning gained in other settings, including work experience and education and training options that do not traditionally lead to higher education.
The latest EUA Trends report60 , surveying 821 higher education institutions in Europe, found
an increasing number of institutions were introducing policies on widening access, but also notes that national authorities and institutions need to do more (and be allowed to do more) to collect relevant data on the social background of students and their attainment.
3.4. The impact of demographic aging
The European population is getting older. Not only are Europeans living longer than ever before, but with falling birth rates, the number of young people in the European Union has declined steadily in the last two decades. In the EU between 1990 and 2009, the population aged 10-19 fell by 15.4% and the population aged 20-29 by 10%
61.Although migration and
increased birth rates in some EU countries mean the population decline has now been reversed at EU level in the youngest age cohorts (the number of 0-4 olds in the EU increased by 3.7% between 2000 and 2010), many EU Member States particularly in Central and Eastern Europe will continue to see their younger population shrink in the coming decades.
As well as their implications for economic development and the sustainability of social security systems, these demographic trends naturally have an impact on education and training systems, including higher education.
The increased higher education participation rates across the EU in the last decade discussed above have hitherto masked the impact of declining younger age cohorts on higher education institutions, as student numbers have continued to increase. However, current EU population projections show a significant decline in the typical age cohort for higher education students (20-24) over the next 40 years in a majority of Member States. As shown i
n Figure 3-9, while the student age cohort is projected to increase or remain broadly stable in the coming decades in 10 Member States, the remaining 17 countries will see the 20-24 age group shrink compared to 2010 levels. Declines range from 5% in Cyprus to over 50% in Romania and Latvia, with the greatest demographic contraction seen in Central and Eastern Europe.
Figure 3-9: Evolution in population aged 20-24 in the EU - 2020 and 2050
DE MT HU
2020 15.0 -22.214.171.124-6.0 -11.1 -4.40.5-3.61.9 -13.4 -9.9 -2.8 -10.9 -12.6 -5.4 -23.3 -27.8 -15.2 -16.9 -17.9 -29.0 -42.9 -39.2 -30.9 -34.8 -35.9 -49.1
2050 28.1 19.7 126.96.36.199.9-1.4 -1.5 -1.6 -2.7 -5.3 -7.2 -8.7 -12.7 -16.1 -19.4 -25.9 -26.9 -31.4 -32.8 -33.0 -42.3 -45.0 -47.4 -48.4 -49.5 -52.5 -57.4
From a socio-economic development perspective, the decline in the student age cohort provides an increased incentive to increase higher education participation and attainment levels in the population as a whole. This is necessary not only to meet future predicted skills requirements (see next section), but also to maintain the supply of graduates at current levels.
4. RESPONDING TO THE SKILLS CHALLENGE
4.1. Europe's changing skills requirements
The requirements of the European economy in terms of human capital are changing. As the EU recovers from the worst economic crisis for decades, the latest analysis points to a number of trends in Europe's economic structure with important implications for employment patterns and skills needs.
(1) An ongoing decline in employment in primary sectors and basic manufacturing sectors, with increased employment in services. This trend has been accelerated by increased competition from Asia, which has seen many manufacturing and processing jobs move to the east during the last 10 years.
(2) A focus within the EU on "high-end", knowledge-intensive activities, such as research and development, marketing and sales, value chain management and financial services, which generate high added value and require highly skilled labour.
(3) An increasing need for skills related to the development and implementation of climate and environmentally friendly solutions, technology and services.
(4) Some degree of polarisation in employment types at sector level, particularly in areas such as distribution and transport, with increased employment in both high-skill posts and in low-skilled positions which cannot easily be transferred to other locations in the world
62.At the same time, there is likely to be an overall decline in
demand for skilled manual workers, as improvements in productivity reduce employment needs and competition intensifies from workers in this skill category in other world regions
In the context of a complex, interdependent global economy, Europe is thus increasingly specialising in services and high value added production sectors. This shift will generate an increasing number of knowledge and skills intensive jobs for managers, professionals and technicians. As a result, demand for highly-qualified people is projected to rise by almost 16 million in the period up to 2020. The share of highly-qualified jobs in the labour market as a whole will thus increase from 29% in 2010 to about 35% in 2020. At the same time, the share of jobs employing those with medium-level qualifications will remain broadly stable (at around 50%) and the share of jobs employing those with low qualifications will decrease from 20% to less than 15%
Framework65 defines eight core competences66 - including communication and ICT skills, an
ability to learn, and initiative and entrepreneurship - which all individuals should seek to develop.
These core competences correspond closely to the skills employers consistently say they seek in their employees. In a recent Eurobarometer survey
Figure 4-1), employers from
across Europe ranked transversal competences such as team-working, communication skills, computer skills and adaptability, alongside sector-specific skills, among the most important attributes they look for in graduate recruits.
development holds for those seeking to develop the highest levels of skills and thus has direct implications for Europe's higher education systems
4.2. Key implications for higher education
The predicted growth in demand for high-level skills in the European economy means the EU needs more skilled graduates in absolute terms and for these graduates to have the right mix of skills to allow them to succeed in the changing economic environment. As a result of the continuing growth in student and graduate numbers in all Member States highlighted in Section
3, the EU appears to be on the right path in terms of producing the right quantity of graduates, even if widening access to higher education to under-represented groups remains a challenge. Judging the quality of the education received by higher education students in the EU and the relevance of the knowledge and skills they acquire is inherently more difficult.
The rapid expansion of quality assurance in higher education over the last decade, accelerated in Europe by the Bologna Process, has stimulated a wide-ranging debate on how best to assess the quality of higher education programmes. Views on the components of quality, and on the best approaches to guaranteeing it, vary across the EU. However, the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG), developed as a common framework by the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA)
70, place emphasis on ensuring the inherent intellectual quality of
programmes and teaching, their relevance to students and society in terms of learning outcomes and the importance of creating a "culture of quality" that promotes continuous improvement. As reflected in the ESG, there is a broad consensus that high quality higher education programmes combine a number of core features:
· The programme is defined in terms of clear learning outcomes , which allow students to understand the knowledge and skills they should acquire, form the basis for student assessment and quality assurance and provide employers and other stakeholders a clear idea of the skills set graduates should possess;
experts, taking into account the views of students and employers, labour market representatives and other relevant organisations.
1. The focus on learning outcomes
Reformulating study programmes in terms of defined learning outcomes for students represents a significant cultural shift for European higher education. It requires the core focus of programme design to move away from inputs (the qualifications of teachers, hours studied) the means through which programme objectives are achieved - and onto outputs, defined in terms of knowledge, skills and attitudes acquired by the learners. This shift lies at the heart of the move towards "student-centred learning" wherein the results and impacts of the study
experience for students are attributed utmost importance at programme and institutional level.
The focus on learning outcomes in higher education is part of a wider trend within education and training more generally, spurred on by the development of National Qualifications Frameworks (NQFs) in the context of the Bologna Process
72 and the development of the
European Qualifications Framework (EQF). Initially focusing on the level of higher education, NQFs show what learners may be expected to know, understand and be able to do on the basis of a given qualification (ie the learning outcomes expected from these qualifications). They also show how learners may move between qualification levels and types in an education system
73.At EU level, the European Qualifications Framework (EQF),
agreed in 2008, provides a standardised set out learning outcomes organised into eight levels, to which national qualifications can be linked. The objective is now to relate all existing and new qualifications at all levels of the education and training systems - to the appropriate EQF level, to allow employers and others to better understand the learning outcomes expected from qualifications gained in another EU Member State
The balance of evidence from recent analysis of the situation in Europe shows that the concept of learning outcomes has not yet become established in many higher education institutions
75.As noted by the OECD's current AHELO project76, formulating programmes in
terms of learning outcomes is challenging, and represents a particularly significant departure for universities accustomed to delivering courses defined centrally in national systems. In such cases, academic staff have to take on a range of new responsibilities for the design and implementation of the courses they deliver. The European University Association argues the shift to a student-centred learning outcomes approach in many cases requires further resources to support smaller staff-student ratios, better learning facilities and staff training
extent to which higher education can be expected to develop core competences if these have been neglected in earlier stages of the education system and, secondly, the best way to measure and assess such competences, which have not always been a focus of many higher education programmes.
Box 4-1: Policy and practice: The Nexus project, Germany78
The German Federal Government is funding a project to support higher education institutions in their efforts to modernise their study programmes, teaching, examination and recognition procedures. `Nexus', which has been funded for the period 2010 to 2014, is coordinated by the German Rectors' Conference (HRK) and has a core focus on student-centred learning, modularisation and ensuring employability of graduates. The project involves dissemination of good practice from within Germany and beyond though through workshops, seminars and publications.
2. Better links to research, innovation and the world of work
Higher education systems must continue to evolve if they are to respond effectively to the skills needs of a knowledge economy and challenges related to delivering high quality education to an even larger proportion of the population. At a fundamental level, this implies complementing the traditional academic culture in universities with a focus on delivering a highly skilled, enterprising and flexible workforce which in turn requires increased interaction between higher education institutions and the world around them. Experience from around the world has shown the benefits of cooperation with external partners, including employers, innovative businesses and local and regional authorities. As the Expert Group on New Skills for New Jobs put it, "education and training can be effective and innovative only if the institutions themselves are innovative, "learning organisations" open to interactions with the world of business and work"
In order to support the development of closer cooperation between higher education institutions and companies in Europe, the Commission has launched the University-Business Forum
80, a platform on European level for a structured dialogue between the stakeholders.
The exchanges and discussions are based on real cases and address university-business cooperation related topics from the business and higher education perspectives, including governance, curriculum development and delivery, mobility, lifelong learning, knowledge transfer, entrepreneurship, etc. The Forum has opened a dialogue between the two worlds about how they can work more closely together. It has demonstrated that there is an appetite on both sides for working in partnership focused on education, with the common goal to ensuring that education delivers high-level and highly valued skills, underpinned at all times by high levels of adaptability, entrepreneurship and creative and innovative capacities.
At the same time, it is important that teaching programmes in universities benefit as much as possible from new insights from the world of research research which may be undertaken in the same organisation, but does not always feed into the programmes delivered to students. In this context, the concept of the "knowledge triangle" comprising education, research and innovation is important. To optimise skills, innovation and research outcomes, it is important for these three domains to work closely together. This in many cases requires changes in the traditional approaches to designing and delivering education programmes. As noted by in Council Conclusions on the role of education in the knowledge triangle:
for education to fulfil its role in the knowledge triangle, research and innovation objectives and outcomes need to feed back into education, with teaching and learning underpinned by a strong research base, and with teaching and learning environments developed and improved through greater incorporation of creative thinking and innovative attitudes and approaches
Turning the theoretical concept of a strengthened knowledge triangle into reality in teaching, research and innovation is a complex task, but an area where progress is being made. Public authorities can play an important role in supporting higher education institutions to form closer links with employers and employer's organisations, external research organisations and innovative businesses to enhance their educational offer. At European Union level, the European Institute of Technology (EIT) has been established to test innovative approaches linking different actors in the knowledge triangle, including for the development of new higher education programmes and curricula.
Box 4-2: Policy and practice: Education in the European Institute of Technology (EIT)83
The Knowledge Triangle is a useful tool to grasp the dynamics of education, research and innovation working together in a mutually reinforcing way in order to enhance quality, achieve excellence and to contribute to economic growth and advancement of society as a whole. The European Institute of Technology (EIT) is the first EU initiative that seeks to address the grand societal challenges by connecting the different parts of the knowledge triangle, in particular through the "Knowledge and Innovation Communities" (KIC).
The EIT has departed from the traditional knowledge transfer vision of a linear progression from education into research and then further to the market. Instead, it strives to create an interactive and dynamic relationship between education, research and business and industry, which better reflects the needs of the knowledge economy. A strong research base is a pre- requisite for the Knowledge and Innovation Communities established by the EIT. Each KIC aims to become a world-wide reference for cutting-edge research in its specific thematic area, pooling the best talent in a collaborative, cross-disciplinary setting. Excellent research is then tapped by the EIT education programmes, which provide an environment for training world- class researchers will.
bodies helps to ensure recognition of the EIT labelled degrees in national and international context. The EIT labelled degree programmes are characterised by inter-sectoral, as well as international cooperation.
Academia and business work hand in hand for the design and delivery of the curricula and the definition of the learning outcomes, while students and staff can move smoothly from higher education to business and vice versa. The approach of the EIT labelled Master and Doctoral courses is explicitly international, with world-wide recruitment of students and staff combining high research potential with an entrepreneurial mindset. The courses reflect the achievements of the European Higher Education Area in terms of international curriculum development, structured mobility periods in each programme, awarding of joint degrees and correct application of European transparency and internationalisation tools.
3. Appropriate quality assurance
As already highlighted, the development of internal and external quality assurance (QA) mechanisms has been one of the most important trends affecting higher education in Europe in the last decade
84.The call for rigorous QA systems as part of the Bologna Process was
motivated in the first instance by a need to ensure mutual trust among participating countries in the quality of qualifications delivered by other higher education systems within Europe. However, this initially trans-national concern has sparked a widespread debate on the appropriate role and form of quality assurance systems in guaranteeing high quality at national level, particularly in those countries with little or no previous experience of QA.
Evidence from the ground shows a growing "quality culture" in higher education institutions, with internal quality systems in place and frequently managed at faculty level
almost all EU Member States now have independent QA agencies, working to a greater or lesser extent in line with the European Standards and Guidelines (ESG) mentioned earlier. Many agencies are members of the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA) and registered in the European Quality Assurance Register (EQAR) to facilitate recognition across Europe. This European dimension to quality assurance has been widely welcomed, with the EUA (2010) finding it have had a range of positive impacts, including in internationalising quality review panels, ensuring the participation of students in QA processes and further professionalising national QA agencies.
This said, recent developments in a number of Member States, show positive trends in developing new approaches to QA.
Box 4-3: Policy and practice: Employability in quality assessment in Sweden87
Sweden is introducing measures of "employability" and the employment outcomes of graduates as criteria to be taken into account in assessing the quality of study programmes as part of its national higher education quality assurance system. Questionnaires will be sent to alumni to collect data on graduate views on whether the education they received was useful in the labour market. The results of this analysis will be used as one element in determining the quality-based allocation of extra funding to the best performing universities.
4. Guidance and counselling
Recent analysis of the skills situation in Europe88 concluded that too many individual
education and training decisions are made in the absence of competent career guidance and counselling, with a lack of understanding of people's strengths and the real dimensions and opportunities of different careers, leading to inappropriate training and career choices.
Improving guidance and counselling on career and further study choices in schools is vital to help individuals make informed decisions and reduce wasteful drop-out resulting from inappropriate course selection. At the same time, career guidance within higher education itself is important to help students prepare for the world after studying and develop individual career management skills. There is evidence that career guidance in higher education institutions has been developing rapidly in recent years, with universities striving to improve student retention and prepare their students for employment
89.Reliable information on the
employment outcomes of previous graduates can be a valuable tool for students in selecting study options and for career guidance counsellors, as well as providing valuable feedback for those designing and delivering programmes. Improved data on what happens to alumni after their study period is vital for this to happen.
Box 4-4: Policy and practice: Tracking graduates in Hungary90
In Hungary, a new national tracking system for graduate employment outcomes is being developed and produced its first results in autumn 2010. This new system consists of 30 projects in higher education institutions. It is locally implemented with a nationally consistent and audited methodology, covering the professional satisfaction and the assessment of the personal career, the retrospective assessment of education and institution, and the applicability of studies.
generally costly and is by nature a "disruptive" innovation, requiring both considerable resources and cultural change within organisations. These factors help explain why the radical and rapid transformation of educational systems through technology, predicted by some at the turn of the millennium, has not yet materialised
92, even if the impact of ICT has been
considerable and e-learning remains firmly on the agenda of higher education institutions.
Recent studies show that higher education institutions worldwide are increasingly implementing integrated Learning Management Systems (LMS) at institutional level. These are software systems developed for both administration and teaching in higher education, enabling, for example, enrolment data to be handled electronically, access to online course materials and assessments and online interaction between faculty and students
systems provide core infrastructure to support the work of both administrative and teaching staff, with clear advantages in terms of knowledge management.
Change in the classroom and in the delivery of teaching and learning, requires not only infrastructure, but a reformulation of curricula and course elements to exploit the potential of ICT. This can range from simply making course material available online and using email, through incorporating web-based elements (projects, assessments, discussion fora) into campus-based programmes to fully online delivery, allowing students to follow courses from another location (distance learning, also allowing "virtual learning mobility"). Fully web- based programmes, with no or limited requirements for physical presence on campus, offer new options for widening access to higher education (for example to those in the labour market or with children) and marketing higher education courses internationally
costs and expansion in use of mobile web-enabled devices makes it even more feasible to incorporate innovative, ICT-based teaching techniques and components into higher education programmes.
Although the potential of ICT to enhance the learning and research experience is great, the barriers to wider deployment remain considerable. Alongside the basic infrastructure requirements and the associated investment, remodelling provision to take best advantage of ICT is no easy task. Teachers often need new skills, to adopt new patterns of working and develop new ways of cooperating with technical staff. Moreover, staff often have to undertake such work on top of their existing duties, particularly as e-learning generally complements, rather than replaces, traditional class-room-based learning
deployment of ICT in higher education will need to be overcome. This will in turn require response from public policy
97, including through continued support for the development and
testing of innovative e-learning solutions, dissemination of effective practice, support for staff training and the creation of appropriate regulatory frameworks for intellectual property.
4.4. The added value of learning mobility
At meetings in Leuven and Louvain-la-Neuve in April 2009, ministers responsible for higher education from the countries participating in the Bologna Process agreed the objective that by 2020 20% of those graduating in the European Higher Education Area should have completed a study or training period abroad
98.This decision reflects a growing body of evidence
demonstrating the value of mobility, particularly as a way for individuals to develop their transversal core competences and help prepare themselves for work in an increasingly Europeanised and globalised economy. A recent study, examining the career paths of students having participated in the EU's Erasmus Programme found that those who had spent a study period abroad were 15% more likely to work abroad in later life: a positive trend in the context of the European Single Market
Student mobility can take various forms. The Erasmus Programme supports short-term or "credit" mobility, typically for one or two semesters during which students study or undertake placements in companies or other organisations in another participating country. Such credit mobility should ideally be built into the curriculum at the student's home institution and allow them to gain experience and credits of direct relevance to their home qualification. The term "degree mobility" is frequently used to refer to students undertaking an entire degree course in another country. Recent years have seen an increase in degree mobility in Europe, most notably at Masters-level. Although there are some examples of comparatively large cross- border student flows at undergraduate level, these are comparatively few and tend to concern neighbouring countries with a shared language
100.Recent years have seen a considerable
increase in international degree mobility, as learners from outside Europe follow degree programmes in Europe
101, although with a strong concentration in the UK, Germany and
Some countries have adopted a mobility policy, either to boost outgoing mobility (for example through top-up mobility grants), or incoming mobility (for example through courses in English or preferential access to accommodation), or both. However, relatively few countries have set targets for mobility as part of their higher education development strategy, and no EU country has yet implemented a comprehensive strategy to tackle all aspects of student mobility
Box 4-5: Policy and practice: Promoting outgoing mobility in Denmark104
The main goal of the Danish national mobility strategy is to enhance the outgoing mobility in professional Bachelor programmes by mapping the opportunities and obstacles to mobility and on that basis develop a strategy for a strong, high quality internationalisation as an integral part of professional bachelor programmes.
Promoting transnational learning mobility for higher education students and those in other types of education and training has long been a key policy objective of the European Union, as reflected in the objectives of the successful Erasmus and Erasmus Mundus programmes. In addition to direct financial support for individuals undertaking mobility, the EU works to improve the framework conditions for mobile learners. The 2009 Green Paper on Learning Mobility
105 formed the basis for a wide-ranging public consultation on the obstacles to
mobility, the results of which informed the recently adopted Council Recommendation on promoting the learning mobility of young people
106.This Recommendation calls upon
Member States to take action to promote learning mobility and remove obstacles to it, including in the areas of information provision, administrative obstacles, "portability" of student funding
107 and recognition of learning credits and diplomas gained in other countries.
Academic recognition is a core action line of the Bologna Process and is governed by the Lisbon Recognition Convention of 1997
108, now ratified by all EU Member States with the
exception of Cyprus. The most recent stocktaking report of the Bologna Process109 concluded
that there is a long way to go before there is a coherent approach to recognition of qualifications in Europe.
abroad. These include Belgium (German-speaking Community), Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Some non-EU Member States, including Norway, have introduced fully portable funding mechanisms (see below). National funding is not portable in any cases in Italy (with the exception of two autonomous regions), Latvia, Poland and Romania. The majority of the remaining Member States are between these extremes, and provide support when certain conditions are fulfilled.
Box 4-7: Policy and practice: Portable student funding in Norway111
Norwegian students may spend financial support of approximately EUR 10 600 a year on full- time studies in a country of their own choice. They may also get extra support to cover tuition fees at foreign universities, partly as a grant and partly as a loan, to target exchange students and Master's level.
5. HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS AS DRIVERS OF INNOVATION
5.1. Higher education institutions as centres of open innovation
In the context of national and regional innovation strategies for smart specialisation112 and in
partnership with research centres and businesses, higher education institutions can play a crucial role in knowledge and technology transfer the process through which ideas are turned into innovative marketable products and services. There are a range of mechanisms by which higher education institutions can contribute to these strategies, varying in their complexity.
At one end of the scale, there are "transactional" services, provided by institutions in response to specific requests or requirements from outside organisations, with clear objectives and
specified outputs . However, there are also more developmental or transformational activities, which can be in response to latent or unstated needs, usually involving multifaceted partnerships and with less clear timelines and a more outcome driven approach. For instance, institutions can provide advices and services to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and participate in schemes promoting the training and placement of high-level graduates in innovative businesses. They can also host incubators for spin-offs in science and technology parks and be linked to innovative clusters and networks. Such activities are frequently supported by dedicated national funding instruments and regional development funds, as well as the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
In assessing the role of higher education institutions in the region, it is useful to identify the steps needed to create "connected region", in which institutions are key players. The process for connecting institutions into a regional innovation system requires a critical evaluation of the ability of the region's public institutions and private businesses to articulate a demand for, and capacity to absorb, university expertise. There is ample evidence from national and international case studies that successful partnerships involve 'boundary spanners' providing leadership within and across the partners and enabling a mutual understanding of the drivers affecting all the partners
Through this connecting process, higher education institutions become key partners for the regional authorities in formulating and implementing their smart specialisation strategies. They can contribute to a rigorous assessment of the region's knowledge assets, capabilities and competencies, including those embedded in the institutions' own departments, as well as local businesses, with a view to identifying the most promising areas of specialisation for a region, but also the weaknesses that hamper innovation.
Higher education institutions that are already strongly involved in regional economic development are those that are most suitable to join this smart specialisation process in the short term. Moreover, it is necessary to raise the awareness of other institutions and to encourage them to engage more actively in smart specialisation strategies. Institutions dealing with economics, public policy and administration, as well as those dealing with specific policy areas (such as industry, health, energy, environment, culture) can provide public authorities with strategic advice, as well as experts to work directly on regional development priorities.
The European Commission has set a set a Smart Specialisation Platform for providing methodological guidance and practical assistance to the national and regional authorities involved in the preparation of these strategies
114.The toolbox of this Platform will include a
Guide 'Connecting universities to regional growth' to facilitate successful partnerships between higher education, research institutions, businesses and public authorities.
typically explained by relatively high expenditure on student support mechanisms, through which public money is transferred to individuals in the form of grants (and potentially loans). Private expenditure on higher education includes tuition fees paid by students and research funding and other payments from non-governmental sector sources. As students may receive publicly funded grants or loans, which they in turn use to cover tuition fees (which count as private expenditure), it is preferable to use the combined total of direct public spending and private spending to avoid double counting and gain a more accurate comparison of national spending patterns.
Table 6-1: Public and private expenditure of higher education in Europe as a proportion of GDP
Country Total public spending Of which direct Total private plus
public spending Total private
direct public -
2001 2008 2008 2008 2008
EU-27 1.08 1.14 0.92 0.39 1.30
Belgium 1.34 1.38 1.19 0.30 1.50
Bulgaria 0.82 0.89 0.83 0.69 1.53
Czech Republic 0.79 0.97 0.92 0.27 1.20
Denmark 2.71 2.19 1.57 0.70 2.27
Germany 1.10 1.21 0.98 0.25 1.23
Estonia 1.03 1.13 0.96 0.26 1.21
Ireland 1.22 1.31 1.14 0.24 1.38
Greece 1.07 1.42 (05) : 1.5 (05)
Spain 0.97 1.07 0.96 0.26 1.22
France 1.21 1.24 1.15 0.32 1.47
Italy 0.80 0.84 0.67 0.41 1.08
Cyprus 1.14 1.85 0.91 0.89 1.80
Latvia 0.89 0.99 0.92 0.72 1.64
Lithuania 1.33 1.04 0.89 0.44 1.33
Luxembourg : : : : :
Hungary 1.08 1.02 0.87 0.3 (06) 1.1 (06)
Malta 0.88 1.06 1.06 : 1.1 (05)
Netherlands 1.36 1.52 1.07 0.47 1.54
Austria 1.37 1.49 1.12 0.20 1.32
In 2008, the average level of combined direct public and private spending on higher education in the EU was 1.3% of GDP, varying from around 1.06% in Slovakia
116 to 2.27% in Denmark.
On an EU scale, a clear majority of expenditure on higher education comes from the public purse, although private expenditure is far from insignificant, ranging from less than 0.2% of GDP in Finland, Sweden and Slovenia to 0.7% or above in Denmark, Bulgaria, Cyprus and the UK. Average direct public expenditure and private expenditure in the EU lag considerably behind spending levels in the US. This is particularly true in the case of private spending on higher education, which equates to 1.68% of GDP in the US (compared to 0.39% of GDP in the EU) and is the key factor in the exceptionally high level of total investment in higher education in the US (accounting for 2.69% of GDP in 2008).
As illustrated more clearly in
Figure 6-1, it is possible to categorise EU Member States into several broad categories according to their higher education spending profile. There are the UK, Cyprus and Bulgaria, which, by EU standards, spend a comparatively high proportion of GDP on higher education, with a high proportion of private investment. At the other end of the spectrum, there are Finland and Sweden, where the vast majority of the high overall levels of spending comes from public sources, and private investment is low. France, Belgium and Austria present a similar, but less pronounced pattern, with total expenditure at lower levels, but still above the EU average. Denmark is notable as the only EU Member State with high levels of both public and private spending on higher education. Then come a middle group of Member States, including Latvia, Romania, the Netherlands and Portugal with above average spending on higher education as a proportion of GDP, with a mixture of public and private investment. A final, large cluster of remaining Member States has comparatively low overall levels of spending, and low shares of private investment.
Figure 6-1: Direct public spending and private spending on higher education as % GDP (2008)117
Pr i vESIE
Direct public spending on HE as % of GDP
Source: Eurostat (UOE data collection). Spending on the tertiary level includes R&D spending at universities.
The data shown above naturally reflect relative, rather than absolute, levels of spending. Countries with higher GDP per capita are able to spend more in absolute terms for every percentage point of GDP. This to some extent helps to explain the comparatively low levels of spending on higher education as a proportion of GDP in Ireland, Germany and, to a lesser extent, Spain all of which have relatively high levels of GDP per capita.
Figure 6-2, based on OECD calculations, attempts to provide an indication of the absolute level of investment in higher education by showing the expenditure per student in selected EU and non-EU countries in US dollars converted using Purchasing Power Parity. The chart shows both total investment per student and investment per student excluding R&D expenditure the latter giving a better impression of investment levels in core teaching activities. This alternative measure of investment also shows the Nordic countries, the Netherlands and the UK with the highest levels of investment in the EU and a number of Central and Eastern European states, along with Italy, with among the lowest levels of investment. It is notable that those EU countries with the highest level of overall spending per student and particularly Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK also devote a comparatively high proportion of total investment to research and development. Figure 6-2 also confirms the very high levels of investment in higher education in the US, with a comparatively small difference between spending per student with and without R&D spending. Although it may reflect differing accounting methods, this provides and indication of the scale of investment in Figure 6-2, based on OECD calculations, attempts to provide an indication of the absolute level of investment in higher education by showing the expenditure per student in selected EU and non-EU countries in US dollars converted using Purchasing Power Parity. The chart shows both total investment per student and investment per student excluding R&D expenditure the latter giving a better impression of investment levels in core teaching activities. This alternative measure of investment also shows the Nordic countries, the Netherlands and the UK with the highest levels of investment in the EU and a number of Central and Eastern European states, along with Italy, with among the lowest levels of investment. It is notable that those EU countries with the highest level of overall spending per student and particularly Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK also devote a comparatively high proportion of total investment to research and development
Figure 6-2, also confirms the very high levels of investment in higher education in the US, with a comparatively small difference between spending per student with and without R&D spending. Although it may reflect differing accounting methods, this provides and indication of the scale of investment in
teaching and learning facilities, at least in the top US universities, in comparison to the level
in the EU.
Figure 6-2: Expenditure per student in higher education in developed and emerging economies
D i n
Expenditure - per student all tertiary educationExpenditure per student - all tertiary education excluding R&D activities
Source: OECD, Education at Glance (2010). Data for 2007 showing annual expenditure by educational institutions per student for all services
The expansion of higher education systems of the last decade, combined in some cases with increased pressure on public finances and evidence about the high individual returns of higher education, has led to an ongoing debate about the appropriate balance between public and private investment in higher education. Over the last decade, more countries have either introduced or raised tuition fees for individuals or at least started a policy discussion on the topic
As comprehensive, comparable data on higher education spending takes several years to become available, it is not yet possible to accurately assess the impact of the crisis on government spending on higher education. However, a recent survey by the EUA
highlights substantial cuts in public spending on higher education in a number of Member States, including Greece, Italy, Latvia and the UK
123, with smaller scale reductions in a
number of other Member States. While the picture is stable in other countries, only a few Member States appear to have increased funding for their university sector: most notably France and Germany.
In those countries where public spending cuts have been implemented, the EUA survey highlights a proportionally greater impact on teaching than on research. The reductions in the level of funding available for teaching appear likely to place further strain on systems that have already had to cope with large increases in student numbers. Moreover, there is evidence that the crisis itself is further increasing demand for higher education, as individuals postpone or avoid entry into difficult labour markets by choosing to study or study longer
short to medium term, this situation is likely to have an adverse effect on quality, as funding per student place declines further, and/or increase pressure for tuition fees to compensate for the decrease in public funding per place. The recent Eurydice study, Modernisation of higher education in Europe: Funding and the Social Dimension provides an overview of current levels of tuition fees and student support in the EU
The developments related to the impact of the economic crisis and debates over tuition fees are taking place against a backdrop of wider, longer-term evolutions in the pattern of higher education funding in the EU. The most important trends include the following issues:
A longer-term trend126 towards the use of competitive funding mechanisms by public
authorities. These competitive funding methods include specific funding schemes, such as the Excellence Initiative in Germany, as well as less high profile changes to research funding allocation. The 2010 CHEPS study found that in nine out of 33 European countries surveyed, universities receive a high share of competitive research funds, accounting for over 25% of combined core funds and research budgets.
At the same time, there is evidence of a diversification in the funding sources drawn on by higher education institutions. The 2010 CHEPS study found higher education institutions in 14 countries receive more than 25% of their revenues from "third party" funds (ie not directly from public sources). This trend appears to be well established and intensifying, evening in countries where public investment in higher education is increasing, such as Germany
The development of a more substantial private higher education sector in the EU, alongside public universities. This trend is still concentrated mainly in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as in certain southern European countries. It also tends to be focused in particular disciplines (notably business-related) and types of provision (including continuing education, e-learning institutions). In the short to medium term, however, this trend will have an important impact on the distribution of public and private spending on higher education The emergence of new models public funding to students, combining grants and/or loans to cover both living expenses and, where they exist, tuition fees. New loans systems have been introduced not only in the UK, but also in Sweden and other countries. Where such funding is intended to covered tuition fees, it begins to follow a "funding follows the student", rather than a traditional institutional, funding model. Lithuania has recently implemented a voucher system which takes this model even further.
Box 6-2: Policy and Practice - Student voucher system in Lithuania129
A new funding model based on a `student voucher', whereby the funding follows the student, has been introduced in Lithuania. The student voucher covers the full study costs, e.g. the salaries for teachers and other staff, the necessary resources and services, and incentives for students (grants). The students choose freely an educational institution, be it public or private. Prior to the reform, the state financed only 47% of all costs per state-funded place, which led to concerns about the quality of study. With the implementation of the reform, twice as much funding has been allocated to each study place.
6.2. Governance of higher education
Europe's higher education landscape is characterised by a wide range of organisational and governance models. In all EU countries, higher education institutions are legally autonomous
130, although the extent of this autonomy varies between Member States. In all
cases, institutional autonomy is framed within national accountability systems, intended to ensure institutions are answerable to governments, taxpayers and society at large for their activities and use of public resources. All accountability systems involve checks and balances to institutional autonomy and to some extent condition the freedom of institutions to act, although the degree of direct state intervention and control has traditionally varied considerably across the Union. While the majority of higher education institutions in most Member States are formally public institutions, in others they are independent (albeit publicly funded), while in many countries private institutions co-exist alongside public or publicly funded universities.
Governance reform is a complex area, covering many aspects of higher education systems and their day-to-day operation. Key issues include human resource management, financing and quality assurance, course planning, access and internationalisation. A recent review of governance in higher education in 33 European countries
132, including all EU Member States,
and covering different dimensions of governance found:
In 20 countries (out of 33133) universities have considerable institutional autonomy in starting
new teaching and research programmes;
· In 14 countries universities have a high level of financial autonomy;
· In 11 countries universities enjoy a high level of institutional autonomy in terms of selecting their academic staff;
· In 5 countries universities have a high level of autonomy in determining their internal governance structures;
· The vast majority of European countries have internal and external evaluation systems in place for teaching and for research;
· In 16 countries, universities have supervisory or governing boards with external stakeholder membership.
The same study found many country-specific examples of a positive interaction between governance reform and the performance of institutions, although the difficulties associated with performance measurement across countries, as well as national institutional particularities, make it hard to identify a single model for successful governance.
Across the EU, governance reform has often resulted in higher education institutions assuming responsibilities formerly held by ministries, notably in the areas of human resources and financial management. The introduction of performance contracts and multi-year agreements between the state and the institution and the move from line-item to lump sum budgeting have led to a "devolution" of authority. This is reflected in the strengthening of the position of the executive head of the institution (rector, president, vice-chancellor) or department (dean) and the creation of new institutional governance bodies such as advisory or supervisory boards, largely or solely composed of external stakeholders.
Box 6-3: Policy and Practice - Supporting the efficient management of institutions, Czech Republic134
The Czech Ministry of Education has launched a project (running from 2009 to 2012) to respond to the need to strengthen the effectiveness of higher education management in the Czech Republic. The core goal of the project is to support and develop efficient management principles, especially in economic and administrative processes in higher education institutions and research organisations. The main output of the project will be a new set of guidelines for institutions, along with policy recommendations on how best to support institutional development, notably through training.
7. THE INTERNATIONALISATION OF HIGHER EDUCATION
The growing internationalisation of the higher education sector is characterised by two potentially contradictory trends. It is possible to observe in parallel an increase in cooperation
-between higher education institutions, departments and individuals across the world - and intensification in international competition as institutions and countries compete for mobile students and staff. In a related trend, the development of higher education systems in emerging economies, and notably the so-called BRIC
135 countries, has a double set of
consequences for European higher education. Firstly, it increases the supply of domestic graduates for the national labour markets in these countries, allowing the economies in question to upgrade their skills base and thus increasing pressure on the Europe's economy to compete and European higher education to keep pace. Secondly, it brings new competitors into the global market place for higher education, which may at least mean fewer students from these countries choose to go abroad for study and may attract prospective international students away from Europe. The global higher education landscape is already a complex picture of competition in some areas and cooperation in others. This complexity seems set to increase in the years to come
7.1. Internationalisation of the study body
The last decade has seen an increasing "internationalisation" of the study body in the EU. In 2008, roughly 1.5 million (7.8%) of the 19 million higher education students in the EU were enrolled in countries other than their country of citizenship
Figure 7-1: Proportion of foreign students enrolled in EU Member States, the US and Japan (2000/2008)
n t s
n st u
EU BE PL LV RO LTSISKITBU EE ES HUFIGR MT PT CZ DK SEIENL DE FR AT UK CY LU USJP
200050.4 6.6 2.8 0.4 0.9 1.2 1.4 3.1 1.6 1.4 3.2 2.15.632.2 6.8 7.4 4.6 2.9 9.1 6.81211193.6 1.5
2008 7.8 12 0.7 1.2 1.3 1.5 1.5 2.4 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.6 3.7 3.7 4.2 4.6 4.9 7.1 8.3 8.5 8.8 9.8 111119203044 3.4 3.2
Source: Eurostat - UOE data collection (U ESCO, Eurostat, OECD)
Figure 7-1 masks significant differences in the composition of the foreign student cohort in different Member States. Whereas in countries like Luxembourg, Austria and Belgium, a majority of foreign students in 2008 come from other EU countries
138, in Cyprus, France,
Malta and Portugal, for example, more than 80% of all foreign students come from outside the EU. As shown in
Table 7-1, the number of non-EU higher education students enrolled in EU higher education institutions more than doubled in absolute terms between 2000 and 2008 (from less than 500,000 to almost 1 million) to account for 67% of all foreign students (compared to only 60% in 2000). The number of students from India and from China grew six-fold from 2000 to 2008, reaching 43 000 from India and 116 000 from China in 2008.
Foreign students in EU-27 (in 1000)
2000 2007 2008
Japan 10.7 12.4 10.5
Americas 63.1 121.6 124.3
USA 22.7 32.2 30.8
Canada 5.8 10.8 10.8
Brazil 6.8 12.9 14.6
Oceania 2.9 7.7 7.1
Unknown nat. 20.9 49.8 64.3
Source: Eurostat (UOE collection)
In the context of international student mobility flows, the EU is a net receiver of students. Over 700 000 more students with non-EU citizenship are studying in the EU than EU citizens are studying outside the EU. However, the US is a net receiver of students from EU, with more than twice as many students from the EU going to the US as the reverse. In 2008, 138 000 US students came to study in Europe, although this figure includes short stays and summer courses. It is estimated that only around 30 000 US students annually come to study for at least a year.
Looking at the wider picture,
Table 7-2 shows the proportion ("market share") of all students studying outside their country of citizenship in selected countries across the world in 2000 and 2008, based on OECD data. This shows that 18 EU countries together host almost 40% of foreign students in the world and that this proportion remained broadly stable between 2000 and 2008. Around 28% of these students came from other EU Member States and over 40% from the European Higher Education Area. Moreover, within the EU, there is a marked concentration of foreign students in the UK, Germany and France, reflecting historical international links and language, as well as the attractiveness of the higher education systems
in these countries.
Over the same eight-year timeframe, the US market share in foreign students fell from 24% to less than 19% (although absolute numbers have increased), partly reflecting increases in foreign student intake in Russia, EU countries such as Italy and the Netherlands and New Zealand. Despite this trend, the US continues to attract considerably more students from Asia than the EU: in 2008, for example, over 50% of the 185,000 Indian students studying abroad went to the US
Market share, 2000 (%) Market share, 2008 (%)
Italy 1.3 2.0
Spain 1.3 1.9
New Zealand 0.4 1.8
Austria 1.5 1.6
Switzerland 1.3 1.4
Belgium 2.0 1.3
Netherlands 0.7 1.2
Korea 0.2 1.2
Sweden 1.3 1.0
Czech Republic 0.3 0.8
Greece 0.4 0.8
Turkey 0.9 0.6
Denmark 0.7 0.6
Portugal 0.5 0.6
Norway 0.4 0.5
Hungary 0.5 0.5
Poland 0.3 0.4
Ireland 0.4 0.4
Chile 0.2 0.4
Finland 0.3 0.3
Slovak Republic 0.1 0.2
Mexico 0.1 0.1
OTHER COUNTRIES 17.4 16.6
Source: OECD Education at a Glance 2010
7.2. Expansion of higher education internationally
Investment in higher education as a driver of innovation has become a worldwide trend140 and
a growing number of emerging countries in particular the BRIC states- have started investing massively in their universities and research organisations with a clear focus on science and technology
141.As noted, these developments increase the pressure on European
Figure 7-2: Number of higher education students and graduates in China and Brazil 2001 and 2009
Enrolments ChinaEnrolments BrazilGraduates ChinaGraduates Brazil
Source: U ESCO
Over the last few years, awareness of mounting international competition in higher education and research has grown among European governments and universities. This has been one of the factors behind a series of current and announced policy responses, including initiatives to boost the competitiveness of national higher education systems. This is the case, for example, in Denmark, the UK, Germany (Initiative for Excellence
142), France (through the development
of regional poles of excellence), Spain (through the selection of thematic "campuses of international excellence", as part of a comprehensive national plan called Strategy University 2015). These initiatives are to a varying extent also a response to the challenge posed by
rankings: there is little doubt that in France, for example, the pooling of research capacities on a regional basis and the merger of universities (as in the case of the formerly three universities of Strasbourg) also aims at helping national clusters of institutions gain visibility in the leading rankings.
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