German students and the European Court of Justice

German students are stretching the scope of European rules in national higher education systems. The last few years have shown a steady increase of German students in its neighboring countries. The number of German students in German speaking countries like Austria and Switzerland have increased. However, the most important destination for foreign students is the Netherlands with almost 14,000 students in 2006 and at least 16,750 in 2007 (pdf), making it also the largest group of international students in the Netherlands. I recently wrote about a German student, Jacqueline Förster, who claimed Dutch…Read more …

European Institute of Innovation and Technology: Go!

Excellence needs flagships! That is why Europe must have a strong European Institute of Technology, bringing together the best brains and companies and disseminating the results throughout Europe. That is how José Manuel Durão Barosso introduced the European Institute of Technology about two and a half years ago. Today was the inaugural meeting of the first Governing Board of the EIT. The Board's 18 high-level members, coming from the worlds of business, higher education and research all have a track record in top-level innovation and are fully independent in their decision-making. The Board…Read more …

Education at a Glance 2008

Today the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development published its annual report 'Education at a Glance'. Education at a Glance presents data and analysis on education; it provides a rich and up-to-date range of indicators on education systems in the OECD’s 30 member countries and in a number of partner economies. This years highlights are: Meeting a rapidly rising demand for more and better education is creating intense pressures to raise spending on education and improve its efficiency. Recent years have already seen considerable increases in spending levels, both in absolute terms and…Read more …

Can institutions be compared using standardised tests?

At the EAIR conference in Copenhagen last month I attended an interesting presentation by Trudy Banta, a professor of higher education and vice chancellor for planning and institutional improvement at Indiana University-Purdue University. Her question was clear: Can institutions really be compared using standardised tests? Policymakers seem determined to assess the quality of HEIs using standardised tests of student learning outcomes. Yet, Dr. Banta claims that such tests do not provide data for valid comparisons and on top of that, they measure other things than institutional performance: Comparing test scores sounds easy, but…Read more …

Classifying European Institutions for Higher Education

I'm on my way back to The Hague, returning from the EAIR conference in Copenhagen. Although lots of interesting new studies and findings have been presented there (some of them I'll discuss in later posts), I actually want to talk about a conference I visited last July in Berlin. This conference (Transparency in Diversity – Towards a European Classification of Higher Education Institutions) presented the results from the second stage of the project Classifying European Institutions for Higher Education, a project that might turn out to have a major impact on European higher…Read more …

Interactive Higher Education Policy [or HigherEd 2.0]

Both the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEST) of the Australian Commonwealth Government and the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) of the British Government are looking for news to organise and coordinate their higher education sector. For this, they have started a similar initiative. Both are relying heavily on input from the field and the broader society to get new ideas, and probably to receive more support for their future polices. Yet, there are some differences as well. In its Review of Higher Education, the Australian government has asked…Read more …

The Business School Business in Europe, Asia and the US

The Financial Times featured an interesting article from business guru Charles Baden Fuller. Professor at the Cass Business School of the City University, London. He observes a decrease in the gap between management research between the US and other regions like Europe and Asia. Although he acknowledges the supremacy of the US in the field, he says that the US share of management research will fall below 50 percent the next few years: Research output in management is still concentrated: less than 3 per cent of the world's universities produce more than 70…Read more …

On the non discrimination principle (…and its limits?)

Last week, at Global HigherEd, Peter Jones reported on a forthcoming European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling in the case of Jacqueline Förster v IB-Groep. This is one of a range of recent cases handled by the ECJ that might have substantial effects for higher education policies throughout Europe. In a forthcoming paper for the European Journal of Education I identified the ECJ as one of the main actors in the institutionalisation of the European Higher Education Area. In earlier posts in this blog I discussed recent cases on the German medicine students…Read more …

Academic Networking

Social networking has gone academic. The Web 2.0 principles were already introduced in the field of science and innovation by the iBridge Network. Facebook brought social networking to the university, but it's main goal was not exactly academic in nature. LinkedIn brought social networking to the professional sphere. Recently there have been some initiatives that bring social networking to academic life: Researchgate and Graduate Junction. The Graduate Junction was established by Daniel Colegate and Esther Dingley, graduate  students in respectively Chemistry and Education at the University of Durham, in the United Kingdom. They…Read more …

On the use of rankings and league tables

Just before going to a meeting on rankings I saw this. It is from the proposed new immigration policy: Blueprint for a modern migration policy (pdf; in Dutch). As in so many other immigration countries, it contains a chapter on skilled migration. Here is a translation of the passage that surprised me: Anticipating the implementation of the new migration system, the government will at the latest in the first half of 2009 introduce a regulation for highly skilled immigrants. On the basis of the regulation, foreigners can stay in the country for a…Read more …

Is the UK going Down Under?

During my years in Sydney, the issue of language skills and foreign students has come up repeatedly. The claim was that the financial reliance on foreign students had forced Australian higher education to accept students that lack even the basic English language and communication skills. Most critical on this issue is probably Bob Birrell, Director of the Centre for Population and Urban Research at Monash University in Melbourne. Last year he published a study finding that one in three overseas students which were granted permanent residency after graduating from an Australian university does…Read more …

Metaranking

After the proliferation of accreditation bodies in the 1990s and 2000s, the sector witnessed the appearance of meta-accreditation. Do we - after the proliferation of rankings in the past 10 years or so - witness the first meta-ranking? It looks like it, however I must admit it's slightly different. It won't be a meta-ranker, but more an accreditor of rankings. I'm talking about the establishment of the IREG–International Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence: On April 18, 2008 an important decision was reached by the International Ranking Expert Group (IREG) to consolidate its…Read more …

Peer reviewing as a hidden subsidy

Even though I left academia recently, I try to keep in touch with the academic community and keep up with academic publications in the field. Because of this, I still accept most requests from journal editors to review their contributions. What annoys me however, is the fact that I do not have access to such journals anymore. My current employer has subscriptions on some journals, but definitely not on all the ones I am interested in. Considering the subscription fees of most journals I can't blame them. Today I read an interesting article in…Read more …

Market share and competition

In the Dutch weekly journal ESB (Economic and Statistical Reports), economists from the universities of Groningen and Rotterdam presented an interesting article. Their starting assumption is that high student evaluations will have a positive effect on the market share of universities. After all, if a programme in a particular university is highly ranked by students, more students will chose this particular university to attend that programme. The authors collected six year of student evaluations where students rate their programmes on a scale of 1-10  (as published annually in the Dutch weekly magazine Elsevier).…Read more …