Belgium (NL), Cyprus, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia and Norway.
Profiling of higher education institutions in changing landscapes – diversity and governance in light of recent mergers and other changes
30 March 2011 to 01 April 2011
Peer Learning Cluster or other groupModernisation of Higher Education
This PLA was hosted by the Ministry of Education and Research of Norway. Building on the conclusions of the European Research Area Committee (ERAC), the main aim was to further examine the issue of profiling of higher education institutions. In particular, it addressed the response of higher education to the numerous changes in the European and worldwide landscape, especially through diversity and governance policies. This peer learning activity is the first of three planned PLAs which will focus on the challenges for the governance.
The PLA looked at the issue from three main perspectives:
The PLA tried to identify why diversity is crucial for the success of higher education systems and how much diversity is optimal. The participants also looked into issues around the responsibility of the governments and institutions in the process of diversification of higher education and the role of stakeholders. The outcome of the PLA will give input to the new Communication on the Modernisation Agenda for Universities, which will be launched in Autumn 2011.
Conclusions were drawn in relation to diversity, the role of governments, the role of the HEI and the role of stakeholders:
· Diversity – Higher education institutions need to respond to the fast changing environment of the 21st century as well as the diversification of the target groups. Diversified missions, which today’s society requires, need to be developed.
· The role of governments – Governments need to provide steering mechanisms for the diversification of higher education and develop national strategic frameworks. They also need to look into the incentives for diversification through funding mechanisms and transparency tools can enhance diversification. The quality assurance and accreditation mechanisms are powerful tools for supporting diversification of higher education.
· The role of higher education institutions – Diversity needs to be developed on both the inter-institutional (external) and intra-institutional (internal) levels. Institutional autonomy is an unquestionable prerequisite but not a sufficient incentive of diversification of higher education. The challenges to the diversification of higher education, such as academic and vocational drifts, need to be closely looked at. The crucial development for institutions is their profiling and institutional branding which is perceived as a continuous process.
· The role of stakeholders – The diversification of higher education has to respond to the diverse student body and widen access to higher education. Staff motivation towards diversifying higher education should be enhanced by widening opportunities for diversified career paths. Business interests are to improve skills and competences of graduates, to further develop applied research and to enhance regional development through the diversification of higher education.