and Objectives
Higher education plays an essential role in society, creating new knowledge, transferring it to students and fostering innovation. Europe has around 4,000 higher education institutions, with over 17 million students and 1.5 million staff. Some European universities are amongst the best in the world, but overall potential is not used to the full. Curricula are not always up-to-date, not enough young people go to university after finishing school and not enough adults have ever attended university. European universities often lack the management tools and funding to match their ambitions.
The work of the Cluster on Modernisation of Higher Education focuses on exploring ways to support the modernisation of higher education.
The April 2005 Communication 'Mobilising the brainpower of Europe: enabling universities to make their full contribution to the Lisbon Strategy' sets out the key challenges and areas of work. The activities of the Cluster focus around identification and dissemination of areas of good practice with respect to higher education quality, governance and funding.
The key outputs of the Cluster include the Compendium of Good Practices in Modernising Higher Education (see Compendia of good practice section) and thematic reports, with key policy conclusions summaries on themes identified as of particular interest for peer learning.
The main reform areas for the modernisation of universities are:
Curricular reform

Firstly profound curricular renovation, with more differentiation in courses, admission criteria and teaching/learning processes, would be needed in order to cope with the diversity of learners, to enhance mobility, recognition and employability. Curricular reform would need to encourage the emergence of excellence and raise Europe’s attractiveness. The rich diversity of European higher education also needs a minimal degree of organisation at European level, in particular through the implementation of the Bologna reforms and the establishment of a European Qualification Framework.
Governance reform

Secondly universities would need more autonomy, within the national framework, in order to fulfil their tasks. Both system and institutional management need modernisation as an indispensable factor for success. Good internal and external quality assurance and a European articulation of QA systems would be part of this reform.
Funding Reform

Thirdly higher and more efficient funding is needed, through targeted investment in quality, innovation and reforms, in order to enable universities to undertake the necessary change/reforms and to convince stakeholders of the value of what they get in return.
20 countries:
Belgium (BEfr and BEnl), Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Spain, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Iceland, Norway, Croatia.

Structural development of higher education institutions


Around the turn of millennium the rectors of Finnish universities insisted in more autonomy, even though Finnish universities already were pretty autonomous in comparison to many countries. Simultaneously, it was noticed that the demographic development of Finland challenges higher education institutions. Namely the younger age groups were decreasing and the population is drawn by a few growing regions.
These were the circumstances under which the new higher education and science policy initiative of structural development originated. The dual higher education system is being restructured by the means of organisational, disciplinary and regional prioritisation and profiling of institutions.

Organisations have merged and condensed their network of operational units. This in turn has led to savings that can be used to enhance the quality of education, research and other tasks of higher education institutions. The work is done in the higher education institutions reflecting the needs of the surrounding society. The Ministry of Education and Culture provides dedicated funding and maintains as a main funding body of the higher education institutions the power to steer the entirety of the higher education sector.
Context:  the initiative has been developed in response to the Government resolution 07/04/05 on the development of  the public research system and overarching policy objectives defined at EU level (Modernisation of higher education, Lisbon strategy).
Aims and targets

The quality, efficiency and effectiveness of all higher education institutions is strengthened by choices of profile and priorities. The higher education system reflects the need of regions, the country and the international education and research community. All higher education institutions in Finland have the option to operate internationally. The size and locations of the higher education system meets the needs of the society. Education takes into account both the quantitative and qualitative needs of the working life.
Useful web links:
Examples of restructured HEIs: (a university formed by a merger of three universities, combining design, economics and technology). (a polytechnic formed by a merger of two polytechnics located in the same town).