Goodbye to AHELO?

This article was written for 'HE - Policy and markets in higher education' from Research Fortnight and was published there on 24 June. “It is hard to improve what isn’t measured.” So said Andreas Schleicher, who runs a programme to identify the abilities of school children in different countries on behalf of the OECD. Eight years ago, a similar measurement for higher education was proposed. The Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes (AHLEO), as it is known, was due to be discussed this week at the sixth annual international symposium on university rankings and quality…Read more …

The end of the university? Not likely

This article was first published in University World News. This year has frequently seen apocalyptic headlines about the end of the university as we know it. Three main drivers have been and still are fuelling these predictions: the worldwide massification of higher education; the increasing use of information and communication technology in teaching and the delivery of education; and the ongoing globalisation of higher education. These developments will make the traditional university obsolete in 2038. At least, that’s what some want us to believe. The massification of higher education worldwide – even more than the…Read more …

Mobility Stats: Mapping Mobility & Open Doors

Two international education organisations, Nuffic from the Netherlands and the Washington based Institute of International Education (IIE) published their international student mobility statistics this week. While Open Doors is being published by IIE already since 1948, the Nuffic publication – Mapping Mobility – was published for the first time in 2010. Although Nuffic published international education statistics before, this is the first one solely focused on higher education. Growth One finding of the Open Doors report was that the influx of international students into the US continued to grow modestly. Compared to the…Read more …

Framing International Education

Ten days ago or so, I was in Sydney for the annual Australian International Education Conference. I’ve seen some very interesting presentations here, some real eye-openers. I’ll discuss some specific sessions here later (I’ll wait until the presentations are available on the website). Now I just want to share some general impressions. Most remarkable for me was that the economic framing of international education now seems to be widely accepted. When I lived in Sydney some years ago, my perception was that the government and parts of university management occasionally dropped terms like…Read more …

Dutch universities & the ranking season

Ranking season is over. Yesterday, the Times Higher published its new ranking and that also marked the end of the ranking season for this year. After the Shanghai Jiao Tong ranking, the Leiden ranking, the QS ranking and the Taiwan ranking, this was the fifth attempt to illustrate the differences in quality of the world’s universities. Whether they succeeded in this remains a question of debate. Although there are quite some differences in the results of the rankings, a few common observations can be made. First of all, it is clear that the…Read more …

Regulating recruitment agencies

Study abroad for a full degree has developed from an elite to a mass phenomenon. Parallel to this development, we have witnessed a commercialization of international higher education where many institutions have become financially dependent on full fee paying international students. To operate in this (global) market, institutions – and especially the lesser-known ones – now frequently turn to agents and recruiters in order to attract prospective students. Many point to the risks of these third party agents and plea for more regulation or even abolishment. Abolish or regulate? In Inside Higher Ed,…Read more …

Rankings and Reality

Summer holidays are over. In the global field of higher education, this also means that it is ranking season. Last month it was the Shanghai ranking, This week the QS World Universities Ranking were revealed and in two weeks the all new Times Higher Education ranking (THE) will be published. Ranking season also means discussions about the value of rankings and about their methodologies. Two points of critique are addressed here: the volatility of (some) rankings and the overemphasis of research in assessing universities’ performance. Volatility and stability in international rankings  This year’s discussion has gotten extra fierce (and nasty now and then) because of the THE’s decision to part…Read more …

What does the future hold for (Dutch) higher ed?

And another academic year begins… The first Monday in September traditionally marks the start of the academic year in the Netherlands. It's the occasion where university leaders look ahead to the year to come and where inspiring speakers are invited to present their views and opinions. It is also an opportunity to see what the big issues are in Dutch higher education and how prominent is the international dimension in these issues. What will upcoming speakers (and past speakers, in those cases where the opening of the year took place prior to today)…Read more …

Recognition and Mobility in the Bologna Process

Today and tomorrow, the anniversary of the Bologna Process is celebrated. Actually...it is celebrated by most and protested against by some. A consortium of CHEPS, INCHER and ECOTEC was given the task to prepare an independent assessment of the Bologna process. The study was conducted together with experts from the University of Bath, the Bayerisches Staatsinstitut für Hochschulforschung and Nuffic (i.c. myself)). Below is the presentation by Don Westerheijden (CHEPS) of the part I've been working on: recognition and mobility.

Podcasting Higher Ed

Some years ago the first podcasts emerged in higher education. Initially these were mostly downloadable lecture series, mainly from US universities. Universities like Berkeley and Stanford took the lead here but soon many other US universities followed and later, also some UK universities jumped the iTunes U bandwagon. In the Netherlands, the universities of Wageningen, Leiden and Rotterdam were the first to podcast lectures. Of course there were fears that these podcasts would make real lectures superfluous, but i don't think that podcasts ever knocked lectures off the podium. More recently, also several…Read more …

Does past performance influence success in grant applications?

Last week, the Dutch Volkskrant reported on an interesting study on the distribution of research funding by the Netherlands Research Council (NWO). Loet Leydesdorff (one of the researchers that introduced the Triple Helix concept) and Peter van den Besselaar - both of the Amsterdam School of Communications Research of the University of Amsterdam - conducted a study on the grant allocation decisions of the Netherlands Research Council in the Humanities and Social Sciences in the Netherlands. Besselaar and Leydesdorff tested whether the grant decisions correlate with the past performances of the applicants in…Read more …

New Features

Due to (happy) family circumstances posting has been slow recently. I get round to finding interesting news items to blog about but often couldn't find the time to actually write about them. I will try again to post more regularly. After all, plenty is happening in the world of higher education, science and innovation. Between posts however, you can enjoy my tweets and links at twitter (@beerkens). Enjoy! And suggestions for new news sources are welcome.Read more …

European Innovation Scoreboard

Recently, the eighth edition of the European Innovation Scoreboard was published. The European Innovation Scoreboard (EIS) has been published annually since 2001 to track and benchmark the relative innovation performance of EU Member States.