World Class Universities

Robert Birnbaum, professor of higher education at the University of Maryland and author of some very interesting books on higher education (How Colleges Work; Management Fads in Higher Education) has written an interesting (and amusing) article in International Higher Education (the Quarterly of the Center for International Higher Education (CIHE) in Boston College). Birnbaum is worried about the World Class University ranking crisis. Universities around the world are either proclaiming that they have attained or try to achieve this mythical status. But actually, we have no clue what it means. Philip Altbach, leader…Read more …

Reality TV enters Academia

A cross between 'University Challenge' and 'The Apprentice'. That's how The Times describes a new TV show in India: Scholar Hunt - Destination UK. In the show, students will compete for full scholarhips to the universities of Leeds, Warwick, Cardiff, Sheffield and Middlesex. They will follow the students going through the exams, interviews and other tests for the scholarships. Each of the British universities will award one scholarship for a 3 year degree worth 45000 Pounds. Arun Thapar, the show’s producer and presenter:“It’s survival of the fittest, but hopefully this will provide someone…Read more …

Austria vs. Brussels

The case of the Austrian Europeanisation by stealth and the European Commissions' (EC) recent letter of formal notice continues... The Austrian chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer thinks that the EC not only affects the Austrian higher education policies but also jeopardizes the Austrian health system. He has said he will resist Brussels' push for equal access of all EU students to Austria's medical faculties."Vienna and Berlin have been and are still in agreement on the quotas scheme, and it is preposturous that some doctrinaires describe something as discriminatory which is not being perceived as discriminatory…Read more …

Greek resistance

More than six thousand students and academics marched through the centre of Athens last night to oppose government plans to reform the country's higher education system and allow private universities to operate in Greece.The protests reflect the rising tension over the reforms proposed by government, which would break a major taboo in Greece by allowing private universities to operate under state supervision and to issue state-recognized degrees. Academic staff began a three-day strike Wednesday, and have threatened open-ended strikes from next week. State primary and secondary school teachers held a sympathy work stoppage.…Read more …

More Europeanisation

On the 24th of January, a so-called 'letter of formal notice' has been sent by the European Commission to the governments of Austria and Belgium. The letter concerns the 'Europeanisation by stealth' that I have addressed before here for the case of Austria and here for the case of Belgium. These governments thought they found a solution for the high influx of foreign students (respectively German and French) in some of their universities. European law - Article 12 of the EC Treaty - prohibits discrimination on the basis of nationality. In Austria, they…Read more …

Retention of Foreign Graduates

Some months ago, the Vienna based International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) published a study on admission and retention policies towards foreign students.Much has been written about the way in which states and universities have promoted international mobility of students and international recruiting. This study looks at what happens with these foreign students after they graduate. This is particularly interesting considering that more and more industrialised countries are looking for ways to promote immigration of highly skilled professionals to help boost their economy.The study covers the following countries in detail: Australia, Austria,…Read more …

Whose European Higher Education?

Last Month, the Dutch Central Planning Agency (CPB; international name: Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis) published a report on the role of Europe in higher education: "Higher education: Time for coordination on a European level?" (in English). More specifically, they asked the question whether there are valid reasons for more European (as opposed to national) coordination of higher education. Their final conclusion is NO: there is little empirical data that supports a shift towards European coordination of higher education. The authors claim that neither economies of scale, nor the existence of external…Read more …

Giddens & Co. on Europe

The Guardian published the transcript of an interview with Anthony Giddens about New Labour, the Lisbon Agenda and labour market reforms. The message for Europe, or better, for Germany, Italy and France: a flexicurity model. Reform of the labour market and at the same time taking care of those who lose out. Here are a few of his statements.About Lisbon and the European Social Model:You get all these detailed prescriptions about what should be done at the level of the economy. Even this great hit list which countries are supposed to follow. But…Read more …

Globalisation: 99 Definitions & Perspectives

While I was looking for a file in my computer I stumbled upon an old document. It's a file with a list of different perspectives and definitions of globalisation that I assembled for my doctoral research some years ago. I thought it might be of useful for students and scholars that are trying to grasp the possible meanings of the term. It is a list of 99 (give or take a few) views from different disciplines and different sectors. Most are from academics, ranging from anthropologists to economists and from philosophers to business…Read more …

Let’s stick together

Yesterday, Inside Higher Ed and the education section of the Guardian wrote about the establishment of yet another international consortium of universities: The International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU). Obviously, I have a special interest in these things since I have written my PhD dissertation about this phenomenon. Here I also concluded that many of such consortia do not fully exploit the opportunities that emerge in these cooperative ventures. And basically this has to do with the resistance of universities to give up any authority to these consortia. The members of IARU are…Read more …