Global competition and institutions
Academics continue to debate the nature of rankings for higher education institutions, usually concentrating on the validity of the ranking criteria and, with a few exceptions, ignoring the question of whether ranking is of benefit to the global higher education sector. Yet rankings already exert substantial influence on the long-term development of higher education across the world, with three ranking systems currently in positions of global dominance.
The oldest system, starting in 2003, is the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) prepared by Shanghai Jiao Tong University. It was followed in 2004 by the World University Rankings of Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) with Times Higher Education as media partners. In 2010 Times Higher Education (THE) published its own set of World University Rankings for the first time. Rankings bodies acknowledge the growing impact of the global environment on higher education systems and institutions and the importance placed on some means of identifying institutional and regional excellence by prospective ‘consumers’.
While rankings might not always provide information about the particular strengths and weaknesses of the disciplines and departments encompassed within any given higher education institution, it is often the reputation and ranking of the institution that will encourage further investigation. As students become more globally mobile, the reputation of any higher education institution or region, contributed to by its ranking comparative to others, will continue to grow in importance.
While no academic or ranking body would suggest that the criteria used for any or all of the big three ranking systems are perfect, most would agree with Professor Philip Altbach, director of the Centre for International Higher Education at Boston College, that they have arisen to meet a demand for more information from an increasingly wide range of consumers. Altbach’s references to the major advantages for universities and systems located in the world’s traditional English-speaking knowledge centres are not in dispute, and the use of proxies such as faculty-student ratios, are an inevitable consequence of trying to include some ‘measure’ of teaching quality into a global ranking system.
ARWU versus QS-WUR
It is the absence of any teaching criterion in the ARWU that makes it a tool for a specific purpose. Its criteria focus on research productivity, but this leads to a system where older universities with more established reputations are unduly favoured, and where there is very little movement in the top 200 universities. The stability of the ARWU could be interpreted as a sign of face validity, but this ignores the possibility that there are ambitious younger universities which lie outside of the traditional ‘knowledge centres’ referred to by Altbach.
For these often world-class universities, many currently based in Asia, nothing is gained in the short- or medium-term by involvement in the ARWU. They are not yet at a stage where they can attract Nobel prize-winning researchers, not because they are inferior institutions but because they are young and relatively unknown on the global stage. In comparison, the QS-WUR provides these institutions with a platform that allows them to compete with some of the more established players in higher education.
An analysis of this ranking system shows that as we move progressively down the scale from the top 50 institutions, there is an increase in volatility, providing ambitious, often younger, institutions with an opportunity to take a more prominent role on the global higher education stage. There are numerous examples of this in Asia. In the past four years South Korea has invested heavily in its higher education provision and actively promoted the benefits of internationalisation. Consequently, there are now five Korean universities featuring in the QS-WUR top 200, compared with just two five years ago.
Hong Kong now has five of its eight government-funded institutions in the QS top 200. Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and City University of Hong Kong have made notable progress, the latter moving from 198th to 110th over the eight-year period and the former now firmly established in the top 50. Both universities are around 30 years old, but like the vibrant economy they are based in, they are competitively pursuing investment in excellent faculty and facilities to continuously improve the quality of their research, learning and teaching.
Times Higher Education WUR
In 2010, Times Higher Education produced its own new set of rankings and, like any new system, it is taking time to get it right. Perhaps one of the most problematic issues facing THE is their incompleteness, with a number of universities choosing not to submit data to the new rankings until the criteria, scaling and weighting issues are more stable.
In the words of Kristi Fisher, director of the office of information management and analysis at the University of Texas, Austin: “…the Times Higher survey was using new methodology for the first time, and there was talk it might be suspect. The last thing we wanted to do was spend a lot of resources to participate in a survey that might have flawed methodology behind it.”
This was a view echoed in Asia, where two of the eight Hong Kong government-funded institutions decided not to submit data in 2010, leaving Hong Kong Baptist University ranked just outside the top 100, while Chinese University and City University of Hong Kong did not appear at all.
Where are we now?
There is room for many types of ranking systems and criteria, but as interest in rankings rises around the globe, the stakes are raised for those charged with running universities. Rankings do impact on global reputation, as well as attempt to measure it in one form or another, and few can ignore the potential impact of an institution’s reputation on a graduate’s ability to get a job or be accepted for postgraduate study at a top university.
An institution’s global ranking can also impact on its ability to lobby for funding, form strategic partnerships, recruit quality international faculty and attract internationally mobile students. So it is little wonder that so many heads of institutions take such an interest in both the annual results of, and methodology behind, the various rankings systems. A look at the criteria and the results from the various 2011 exercises suggests that the THE system remains potentially more poisonous to some universities than the other two because (at present) it is less predictable and transparent, and will inevitably remain so for the time being as new universities join and leave and criteria, weighting and scaling are amended and adjusted.
In the case of the other two rankings systems, the ARWU with its exclusive research focus clearly favours older, well-established and research-intensive universities, while the QS-WUR remains more suited to young ambitious universities eager to establish their credentials on the global stage. It seems consumers do have choice after all, not just in terms of parents and students trying to decide which university to entrust their futures to, but also in terms of universities as consumers themselves. Students, parents, presidents, vice-chancellors, ladies and gentlemen, please choose your poison carefully.
* Dr Kevin Downing is director, knowledge enterprise and analysis, at City University of Hong Kong.
Naturally everyone wants both. Equally naturally, resources are scarce and at any given time governments must determine the next investment. Strategies vary. Nations might try to go broad and deep at the same time, like China. Or system building might alternate between a breadth phase – in which many new institutions are built and overall rates of participation are pushed sharply upwards; and a depth phase – in which priority is given to world-class science.
The dilemma is especially acute in developing countries. Resource shortages and other urgent priorities force them into an ‘either-or’ rather than a ‘both and more’ approach. Breadth tends to take priority, if only because universities in the research rankings seem out of reach of nations with a per capita income of less than USD$10,000 per year. The exception is China, which combines a large pre-modern economy with global cities and industrial might.
No golden development path
The political implications differ in each case. Breadth promises to fulfil the aspirations of a much larger proportion of families and lift economic capacity across the board, though only if graduate labour is used effectively. Depth – globally recognised universities – speaks to national pride, industry innovation and the desire for a position near the front row of the global grid. Rightly or wrongly, universities in the rankings are seen as an essential marker of national capacity and preparedness for the technological and economic challenges ahead. Nations give different answers depending not only on economic policy but cultural values. There is no single answer, no one golden development path.
Some nations place a very high priority on building national universities with the gravitas of national banks, peak institutions for leadership training and social selection. There was a long tradition of such institutions in the Confucian world, prior to the modern university with its Humboldtian forms. All East Asian systems are crowned by institutions of this kind: Peking and Tsinghua in China, Tokyo and Kyoto in Japan, National Taiwan University, Seoul National in South Korea, and Hong Kong University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong – not to mention Singapore National University in South East Asia.
These institutions are now expected to be not just nationally dominant but globally prominent. They lead tertiary education systems going from strength to strength. Korea and Taiwan have the world’s highest tertiary participation rates. The Asia Pacific has 25 universities that produced over 4,000 science papers in 2005 to 2009 and had more than 10% of those papers in the world top 10% in their field. Western Europe and the United States each have twice as many such universities, but there is no doubt East Asia is catching up. The peak institutions in the US also tower over the rest.
Interestingly, both the US model and the post-Confucian model are characterised by high rates of participation by international standards. They combine breadth with depth, though only up to a point. If they have a flaw it lies in the long tail of private sector institutions lacking status and resources. Still, if the peak institutions were weakened, this would be unlikely to broaden participation or improve quality at the bottom end, though it might lift the status of upper middle institutions.
Other nations place a larger emphasis on broad-based capacity. This was long a strength of Germany, with many world top 500 research universities, excellent technical universities and on-the-job training, and a modest number of top 100 universities. The Excellence Initiative signalled a change in the balance, with a new emphasis on research concentrations.
Greater emphasis on depth
One common feature of policy in this period, almost everywhere, is a greater emphasis on depth. It is hard to say whether this has been fostered by global rankings, which began in 2003, or has catapulted the rankings into prominence. What is clear is that ‘world-class’ universities will not go away. Policy experts from the developed West often advise developing country governments to eschew the dream of world-class research universities and concentrate on lifting participation rates and standards. There is an obvious realism to this, but it begs the question: When does the aspiration kick in? There is also a hint of condescension: "Leave the science to us, get your basics right, and one day you’ll be ready to join the main game. When we say so."
Unsurprisingly, many policy leaders in emerging countries are not interested in waiting that long. And they have the example of East Asia to encourage them. If China or Korea (and before them Japan) had waited to be told they were ready for universities of Western European standard, they would still be waiting.
The example of East Asia reminds developing country aspirants that to achieve both broad-based tertiary participation and research science, they must have economic growth and modernisation. East Asia has achieved world-class finance and industry as well as world-class tertiary education. You cannot create leading universities out of nothing. Arguably, emerging countries should not use global rankings as a benchmark of national university performance until they are ready to do so, when the top 500 can be reached within the next generation. But nor should they suppress the evolution of their own capacity in global science.
In future years, the absence of global science capacity will be an increasing handicap. Nations unable to interpret and understand research – a capacity that necessarily rests on personnel themselves capable of creating research – will find themselves in a position of continuing dependence. The ambition for world-class universities is not a superficial or elitist whim. It is an entirely valid aspiration.
* Simon Marginson is a professor of higher education at the University of Melbourne, where he works at the Centre for the Study of Higher Education. His most recent book is Ideas for Intercultural Education, with Erlenawati Sawir. Palgrave Macmillan, New York, November 2011.
With hundreds of high-quality yet sub-top tier institutions in the United States, these premier reports are of limited utility to international parents and students comparing American institutions. US News and World Report’s rankings have been considered a source of reliable and relevant consumer information to fill the gap.
Since its initial ranking report in the mid 1980s, US News and World Report (USN&WR) has expanded its portfolio of reports to include a selection of discipline- and professional-based rankings, as well as an array of regional reports.
In the United States it has retained its dominance as a relevant source of comparative institutional information. It is said that within hours of its annual autumn release, visits to its website jump into the millions. One can safely presume that a good number of international visitors are among them.
USN&WR’s potential appeal to parents and students appears to be the inclusion of more relevant consumer information in its mix of ranking metrics. The ‘big three’ and many of the other ranking systems that have sprung up in the past 30 years gauge institutional quality by a mix of metrics frequently calibrated to the generation of new knowledge and subsequent impact.
USN&WR appears to focus on a mix of metrics more directly reflecting the quality of an institution’s academic programming and its graduates. Well over half of the available 100 points are allotted to admission rates, student-faculty ratio, freshman retentions and graduate rates. New knowledge generation-weighted ranking systems tend to rely on one or more independent third parties for their metrics. An example is Thomson Reuters’ Social Sciences Citation Index, which tracks publications in 2,474 major social sciences journals across 50 academic disciplines. An academic’s research productivity and impact is affirmed by an impartial third party source. USN&WR ranking are substantially based on self-reported data provided by each institution. Thus, the validity of the data could raise concern.
Gaming the rankings
A recent New York Times article, “Gaming the College Rankings”, identified a handful of relatively well-known undergraduate programmes that have been found to or have acknowledged “…twisting the meanings of rules, cherry-picking data or just lying”.
Robert Morse, USN&WR’s director of research, is quoted as saying that Claremont McKenna College is “the highest-ranking school…to admit to misreporting”. The college acknowledged that a high-ranking officer had inflated the average SAT scores given to USN&WR over the past six years.
Gaming has also been found below nationally ranked institutions. The New York Times further reported that when Iona College, a small institution in a New York City suburb, had its 30th rank among the northeast’s regional universities reviewed against corrected data, it was found that it would have dropped to 50th. Professional schools have also been identified as gamers. In recent years two law schools, Villanova University and the University of Illinois, have admitted that they misreported selected statistics. The same New York Times article reported that Villanova conceded that its deception was intentional. Illinois did not acknowledge misrepresentation.
A soon-to-be-released book, Failing Law Schools by Brian Tamanaha, a former law school dean, leads to a similar conclusion. He describes a number of questionable ways a school can attempt to advance its ranking standing. Among the tactics gaming institutions employed, Tamanaha cites selectively reporting admissions test results to pump up its image, hiring its own graduates on short-term contracts to inflate its employment statistics and selectively reporting starting salaries.
There is, however, no reason to mistrust the USN&WR rankings because they partially rely on self-reported data. The publication does cross-check self-reported data against other public sources. Further, it adjusts its metrics and seeks to close loopholes on a continuing basis. The vast majority of reporting institutions do play by the rules and report accurate data. Still, international parents and potential students may want to consult other public comparison sources.
* William Patrick Leonard is vice dean of SolBridge International School of Business in Daejeon, Republic of Korea.
Consequently, researchers and students are unable to make informed choices in selecting institutions to work with or at, while cooperation among universities regionally and internationally is being hampered. The rapid expansion of higher education in the region as new domestic institutions and branch campuses of overseas institutions emerge has underlined the need for a classification system, say Rajika Bhandari and Adnan El-Amine, authors of the study for the New York-based Institute of International Education (IIE).
The report, Higher Education Classification in the Middle East and North Africa: A pilot study, is supported by the Carnegie Corporation and produced in partnership with the Lebanese Association of Educational Studies in Beirut. It has laid the groundwork for a such a system. “There is no standardised framework for understanding the region's institutions,” said Bhandari, deputy vice president of research and evaluation at the IIE and the lead researcher for the study, in a press statement.
“Having more comparable information such as that provided by our study will lead to a deeper and more transparent understanding of the wide range of institutions in the Arab world and how best to engage with them at a national, regional and global level.”
The lack of an Arab ranking system has made it more difficult for researchers and research agencies to select reliable higher education institutions in the region. It has limited the prospects of networking, exchange, mobility and cooperation with institutions of similar profiles and characteristics, the authors say. It has prevented students from making better informed choices regarding their selection of fields of study and subsequent careers.
For policy-makers, it has led to frustrated initiatives for cooperation among institutions regionally and internationally and has created confusion in relation to transferability of students, faculty mobility and the establishment of quality standards and regional frameworks for quality assurance. And it has limited research funding from industry and university-industry partnerships.
“Without a clear understanding of different types of institutions and their features, higher education institutions are often mischaracterised and the distinction between research-oriented and teaching-oriented institutions is not always evident,” the authors said.
The pilot study was set up to develop a system of classifying higher education institutions in the region. The goals of this new classification model were to:
• Help strengthen MENA institutions locally by providing benchmarks and key indicators on which institutions can measure and track their growth and compare themselves to similar institutions.
• Generate international interest in the region’s institutions, leading to deeper linkages between MENA higher education institutions and other institutions around the world to facilitate knowledge sharing, research collaboration, and institutional capacity building.
• Provide critical institutional-level information and data that prospective students from the MENA region or from other parts of the world can use to select a higher education institution.
The pilot study was initiated in May 2009 and surveyed more than 300 higher education institutions in seven pilot countries: Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates. Egypt was originally included in the study but data were ultimately not available due to the political events unfolding there. Important findings included a paucity of institutional level data on key indicators on higher education, particularly on research involvement, the teaching and learning profile, the faculty profile and the financial profile of the institution.
Recent research by the World Bank has also noted the lack of data on similar indicators such as the qualifications and accomplishments of teaching staff; indicators of research excellence, such as memberships in prestigious academies and societies; and awards received by faculty. The study also found a shortage at student level of disaggregated data by academic level and a lack of complete data about enrolment and graduation rates. There was also an absence of data on international mobility of staff and students, two areas also flagged up by the World Bank. This indicated either a lack of mobility and academic exchanges at institutions or that the activity was not being measured.
A complication in collecting data on mobility is that, in the Arab world, people are often able to move across borders without any special documentation identifying them as foreign or international. The study highlighted international influences on higher education in the region and noted that most institutions were aligned to a foreign model of higher education, with the French model most prevalent (45% of institutions), followed by the American (43%). The cultural orientation depended on a number of factors, including language, curriculum organisation, and historical affiliation.
The American model, which has witnessed rapid expansion during the past decade, has surpassed the French model, which predominated in the region from 1960-98. The American influence is seen in the structure of courses, and the adoption of the semester system, and is most prevalent in the Gulf states, probably because Qatar and the UAE are already home to the branch campuses of several American institutions, the authors said. The report said that Arab institutions’ involvement at the international level is relatively low with very few institutions engaged in various forms of international collaboration such as twinning. Student mobility among Arab countries was also weak. Yet there was a critical need for institutions to engage with those outside, especially as they rebuild their societies after the recent political events and begin to engage a newly mobilised youth population.
“Many higher education systems in the region are undergoing a transition from old systems to new,” said El-Amine, co-author of the report, and a founding member of the Lebanese Association for Education Studies.
“Overall, Arab institutions’ involvement at the international level is relatively low. Yet there is a critical need for institutions of the region to engage with those outside, especially as they rebuild their societies after the recent political events and begin to engage a newly mobilised youth population.”
The rapid growth of branch campuses in the region, such as those in Qatar and the UAE, is having an impact on the higher education landscape, bringing in international faculty and students. However, there is a pervasive problem of weak institutional investment and engagement in research. Among the limited number of institutions for whom data were available, there are few research facilities and most institutions provide limited access to print books, e-books, print journals, e-journals and online databases. Teaching is given more weight than research and very few staff are active in research. The authors said the study and resulting classification provide the groundwork for further research on developing a common framework that enables a better understanding of institutions in the region. The data from the study could also be used to generate rankings of higher education institutions in the seven pilot countries, especially on dimensions for which there were more complete and reliable data.
“The next step would require relative weighting of various indicators, a task that we did not undertake in our analysis as our goal was to present the data in a descriptive way, rather than to rank institutions,” the authors said.
They concluded that it is clear that to develop a comprehensive classification – with more complete classification that could be scaled up to apply to all countries in the region – more time and effort are needed to mobilise countries, ministers and institutions in the region regarding the importance of gathering high-quality institutional data and participating in the classifications initiative.
“Local buy-in is essential,” they said. “Without it there is little motivation for governments and institutions to participate and the initiative is perceived as being externally imposed.”
They said while it remains to be seen what role universities would play in responding to the current political upheaval sweeping the region – by preparing future leaders and the workforce of tomorrow – the Arab Spring at its most fundamental level has heightened the need for solid institutional data and information.
It says that while tuition fees in Australia fell by nearly 1% in real terms between 2010 and 2011, this compares with a 5% fee rise in America and a 6% jump in South Africa. ‘Affordability’ in the report relates to changes in tuition fees adjusted for changes in student aid. In this way, America was the only one of the nearly 40 countries surveyed where financial assistance available to students was cut and fees were increased. The year-round Pell Grant system was eliminated and several other grant programmes were cut or dropped for the 2011-12 academic year.
“Students in the United States appeared to experience the greatest decrease in affordability in
2011, as they faced increases in tuition fees that exceeded inflation coupled with decreases in available financial assistance. Neither trend is expected to reverse course in the next two years,” the report says.
The 72-page report, Global Changes in Tuition Fee Policies and Student Assistance, was prepared by Alex Usher and Pam Marcucci of the Canadian consulting group Higher Education Strategy Associates. They have devised a new “global tuition fee index” that compares the costs of going to university in the 40 countries with more than 90% of the world’s post-secondary enrolments.
As well as describing tuition fees in the various countries, the authors also outline student loan and financial assistance arrangements. Drawing on data from the 40 nations, the report says cuts in higher education spending occurred across the globe in 2011 but were especially heavy in Brazil, Italy, Pakistan and the Ukraine. Universities in America, Britain, Japan, the Netherlands, the Philippines, South Korea, Spain, and Thailand also saw public funding fall. It says students in Britain, Italy, Israel, the Philippines, South Korea, Spain and Switzerland, also faced tuition fee rises with no increases in financial assistance.
In the Philippines, 80% of public deregulated universities and colleges raised their fees by 5% to 10% last year “and it looks likely that the government will allow tuition fee increases in 2012 in state universities as well”.
The report says students in France, Germany, Sweden and Saudi Arabia appear to be facing decreasing barriers to higher education given that there were increases in financial assistance without any changes in tuition fees. Similarly, in Colombia, small tuition fee increases were more than matched with significant boosts to financial aid.
“Even in those countries where governments have maintained or increased higher education funding levels, however, the trend towards more private investment continues unabated,” it says.
“This means that higher education systems will come under greater pressure to extract revenue from students.”
The report says that in virtually every region of the world, increasing enrolments, rising costs and the “ongoing competition for public resources from other critical public sector services”, have forced universities to generate additional income from higher tuition fees, donations, faculty consulting and hiring out their facilities. Concerns about access and equity, however, have also led to changes in financial assistance policies aimed at mitigating the negative effects of decreased government investment in higher education.
“Demographic changes and massification trends also continued to impact higher education systems around the world in 2011. Governments and institutions in countries where the cohorts are declining in size (such as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan) are looking to stave off contraction in the higher education sector by appealing to non-traditional local students and attracting international students.
“This means that higher education systems will come under greater pressure to extract revenue from students.” the report states.
“While public sector higher education expenditure is growing, in many cases demand is growing even faster, which means that even in countries where funding is going up, one finds upward pressure on tuition and student aid through greater payment of fees to both public and private higher education institutions.
“Countries in the developing world experiencing both significant population growth, such as Brazil, India, much of Africa, and rising participation rates are struggling to accommodate ever-increasing numbers of qualified students into higher education with limited government resources. Moreover, many of these countries are intensifying their efforts to expand participation among previously marginalised groups of students.”
The soon-to-be-published report shows that the number of people in training jumped by over 100,000 in 2010, boosting the training participation rate by 3 per cent in a single year. And on top of a 10 per cent rise in students over four years, which pushed overall numbers above 1.75 million, the proportion in medium or high level courses also rose 10 percentage points to 58 per cent.
Diploma-level study increased particularly sharply, with a shift by women to higher-level study raising the overall proportion of diploma students from 10 to 13 per cent. The percentage of students aged over 25 also rose, while the proportion of teenage students contracted slightly. The federal government said the report proved its skills funding was paying dividends and that its skills reforms were on track.
“We have invested almost $4 billion more in vocational education and training than the Howard Government did in its last three years, and it is paying off,” said Tertiary Education Minister Chris Evans.
“Our investment has resulted in more Australians than ever before undertaking vocational studies and, importantly, we are seeing an increase in those finishing their studies and getting the qualifications and skills they need to enter the workforce.”
However the figures don’t tell the whole story because they exclude full-fee training by private colleges.
Consequently it’s not clear how much of the increase simply reflects privately funded training being shifted onto the public purse. RMIT University policy analyst said the move to improve data collection and dissemination, to overcome this type of problem, was one of the most significant of the federal government’s skills reform proposals outlined on Monday. The government wants to provide data on course enrolments and completions for all accredited training, irrespective of whether it’s publicly or privately funded. But Dr Moodie said it wasn’t clear how or when the government proposed to achieve this.
“Comprehensive data collection has been resisted strenuously by many private companies as adding to red tape, and has substantial methodological challenges,” he said.
Dr Moodie also endorsed the federal government’s plans to develop the unique student identifier into a national student record, allowing students to keep track of their own qualifications as well as helping in analysis and fund distribution.
“While it would face several bureaucratic obstacles and technical issues it would be an important development for students,” he said.
The report shows that the proportion of fee-for-service training by TAFEs declined slightly in 2010, possibly because Victoria’s open-training market made full-fee training less attractive in that state.
Par Paul Santelmann, Responsable de la Prospective à l’AFPA. Le débat sur la formation des chômeurs est particulièrement exacerbé dans un pays qui consacre plus de 30 milliards d’euros à la formation professionnelle continue. Or le principal critère d’efficacité de la FPC est justement de développer l’employabilité des salariés de base pour leur éviter des passages trop long par le chômage. Ce rôle préventif de la FPC est d’ailleurs celui qui l’oblige à anticiper sur les évolutions du travail et des métiers afin d’élargir l’horizon professionnel des salariés qui ont le moins bénéficié de l’école. Il faut donc se garder de l’illusion d’un surinvestissement dans la formation des chômeurs au détriment des salariés les moins qualifiés.Attendre que les personnes soient au chômage pour les former est une option insuffisante qui transforme bien souvent la FPC en volet du traitement social du chômage. Bien pire cette orientation éloigne les organismes de formation des entreprises, des innovations technologiques et des transformations des métiers.
Pour les salariés les moins qualifiés, la FPC doit retrouver son rôle préventif et promotionnel et répondre prioritairement aux projets de ceux-ci. Des centaines de milliers d’ouvriers et d’employés souhaitent changer d’emploi. La FPC doit s’adresser à eux à travers un droit à la reconversion volontaire qui sera bien plus efficace que les injonctions de formation à l’égard de chômeurs dont l’objectif premier est l’emploi et non la formation.
Par Paul Santelmann, Responsable de la Prospective à l’AFPA. Piloté par Vincent MERLE ce dossier regroupe plusieurs contributions permettant de situer l’enjeu des formations en alternance. Relevant de plusieurs dispositifs plus ou moins complémentaires l’alternance traduit d’abord la difficulté à harmoniser le système éducatif, le rapport au travail des jeunes et les politiques d’emploi.
Cette situation a contribué à une double dévalorisation de la formation et du travail. La France a le plus faible taux d’activité des moins de 25 ans d’Europe tout en maintenant un taux de chômage et de précarisation élevé des jeunes, ce qui témoigne en quelque sorte de cette césure avec le monde du travail. Les alternances ont-elles contribué à atténuer ces processus? Ont-elles amélioré l’efficacité de la formation initiale? Ont-elles consolidé le lien des nouvelles générations avec le travail? Le dossier d’EDUCATION PERMANENTE (http://www.education-permanente.fr/) réengage le débat sur ces questions et fait apparaître les tensions et les options en œuvre que ce soit du point de vue des institutions, des praticiens ou des chercheurs.
L’alternance n’a jamais suscité autant d’intérêt que depuis qu’elle a failli disparaitre du paysage de la formation initiale en France: objectif de 600 000 jeunes en alternance; pénalité pour les entreprises de plus de 250 salariés qui compteraient moins de 4% de leurs effectifs en formation en alternance; 50% des écoles d’ingénieur et 80% des écoles de management proposant une « filière par apprentissage »... Comment sommes-nous passés de la chronique d’une mort annoncée à un tel engouement pour l’alternance? Parmi toutes celles qu’on lui prête aujourd’hui, quelles sont les réelles vertus de l’alternance? A partir d’un état des lieux des politiques publiques, ce dossier invite à sortir d’une certaine forme de pensée magique qui fait de l’alternance la solution à tous nos maux. L’alternance à la française demeure encore en grande partie à construire.
One of the topics highlighted is the nature and role of humanities in the future of university. This was for example the focus of a panel debate with a number of high profiled academics from UK (amongst others Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Vice-Chancellor, University of Cambridge; Mary Margaret McCabe, Philosophy, King's College London; Sir Adam Roberts President, British Academy). In addition, there are also a number of more subject-specific topics that nevertheless have a role to play in understanding the future university, such as reflections on the scope of world literature as a academic field by Debjani Ganguly from Australian National University, and understanding the practice of music by Eric Clarke from University of Oxford, and further reflections on music as a creative practice by Nicholas Cook from University of Cambridge.
Other topics include issues related to staff and students, such as graduate innovation, and research groups for graduates and staff. An interesting presentation is by Simon Schaffer (HPS, Cambridge) who discusses the role of disciplines. In addition, the topics also cover topics that focus on the policy perspective, including a presentation from Michael Kenny (Politics, University of Sheffield) who gives a presentation on "Higher Education Policy in the UK: What can we Learn from the Longer View?".
60 Years of UNESCO in Hamburg: Public events. On 24-25 May this year, the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, UIL, will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of UNESCO’s presence in Hamburg. The anniversary celebration will highlight the Institute’s impact on education policy and programmes throughout the 60 years of its work focussing on lifelong learning, adult learning and education, and adult literacy in all world regions. To register for either event, please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 30 April.
The international lifelong learning community and the wider public are cordially invited to attend two public events in cooperation with the University of Hamburg.
The first will be a public lecture on “Responding to Global Challenges through Lifelong Learning” on 24 May (see provisional programme).
In the international context, lifelong learning has received an unprecedented level of policy attention. But what are the trends and tendencies in international, regional and national strategies for lifelong learning: do we see convergence or divergence? What are the global challenges of lifelong learning and how do they affect the individual learner?
This UIL Public Lecture will offer a platform to hear renowned experts on these issues and to engage in a discussion with policy-makers and practitioners alike.
The second event is an international expert seminar on “The Role of Universities in Promoting Lifelong Learning” on 25 May (see provisional programme).
Albert Einstein was quoted as saying “Learning is not a product of schooling but the lifelong attempt to acquire it”. The idea of lifelong learning, not only as an organising principle for education reform, but also as a catalyst for social transformation and sustainable development is more topical than ever before. But what is and what can be the role of higher education in the context of lifelong learning, in particular? How can universities promote lifelong learning, through teaching, research and extension services? How is this embedded in universities’ missions and realised in practice?