Citizenship education in Europe - Eurydice
The report provides information on 31 of the Eurydice Network countries (EU Member States, Iceland, Norway, Croatia and Turkey). The reference year is 2010/11. Download Citizenship education in Europe.
European countries need citizens to be engaged in social and political life not only to ensure that basic democratic values flourish but also to foster social cohesion at a time of increasing social and cultural diversity.
In order to increase engagement and participation, people must be equipped with the right knowledge, skills and attitudes. Civic competences can enable individuals to participate fully in civic life but they must be based on sound knowledge of social values and political concepts and structures, as well as a commitment to active democratic participation in society. Social and civic competences have, therefore, featured strongly in European cooperation in the field of education; they are among the eight key competences identified in 2006 by the Council and the European Parliament as essential for citizens living in a knowledge society (Recommendation 2006/962/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December on key competences for lifelong learning, OJ L 394, 30.12.2006).
Promoting equity, social cohesion and active citizenship through school education is also one of the main objectives of the current Strategic Framework for European Cooperation in Education and Training which extends to 2020 (Council conclusions of 12 May 2009 on a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training ('ET 2020'), OJ C 119, 28.5.2009). Developing effective approaches to reach this objective is a major challenge for decision-makers and practitioners. This second edition of the Eurydice report 'Citizenship Education in Europe' is intended to inform the debate by providing a comparative analysis of recent national developments in the field.
The report reviews national policies and strategies for reforming the citizenship curricula. It also focuses on measures to encourage 'learning by doing', which is a critical element in an area of learning that requires practical skills. Comparable and detailed information is provided on the regulations, programmes and initiatives that enable students to gain practical experience in social and political life; the methods of assessment used by teachers to evaluate students' practical learning are also discussed. In addition, the changes to initial teacher education and continuing professional development introduced to improve teachers' knowledge of the citizenship curricula and their skills in teaching the subject are examined. Finally, the study investigates the role of the school head in developing and implementing whole school approaches to citizenship education.
In 2010, all the Member States of the European Union adopted the Council of Europe's Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education. I actively support the implementation of the Charter and I am confident that the present Eurydice report, which contains valuable and comparable European-level data, will give yet further impetus to this process. I am convinced it will also offer a timely contribution to the 2013 European Year of Citizenship.
Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner responsible for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth
The pursuit of equity and social cohesion has been a growing political priority over recent years at national and European level. Encouraging citizens, particularly young people, to actively participate in social and political life has been seen as one of the principal means to address these issues; education has, consequently, been identified as a major lever in this respect.
Major policy documents, which have shaped European cooperation in education over the past decade and which will continue to influence developments until 2020, have recognised the importance of promoting active citizenship and, as a result, it has become one of the main objectives for education systems throughout Europe (See Council of the EU: The Concrete Future Objectives of Education and Training Systems. Report from the Education Council to the European Council. 5980/01 (Brussels, 14 February 2001) and Council conclusions of 12 May 2009 on a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training ('ET 2020'). OJ C 119, 28.5.2009). Furthermore, the European reference framework on key competences for lifelong learning (Recommendation 2006/962/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December on key competences for lifelong learning, OJ L 394, 30.12.2006) proposed that young people should be helped to develop social and civic competences, defined in terms of knowledge, skills and attitudes, during their school education. This competence-based approach calls for new ways of organising teaching and learning in a number of subject areas including citizenship education. A greater focus on practical skills; a learning outcomes approach; and new methods of assessment supported by the continuing development of teachers' knowledge and skills, are all crucial to the successful implementation of key competences. Furthermore, the European framework also demands greater opportunities for students to actively participate in, for example, school-based activities with employers, youth groups, cultural activities and civil society organisations (European Commission, 2009b).
The European Commission has launched several significant initiatives to support Member States in developing the key competence approach. An expert group was set up in 2006 to deliberate and advise on research into and development of indicators in the field of civic competences and active citizenship in education. In particular, this expert group validates the research work of the Centre for research on lifelong learning (CRELL) on building composite indicators relating to the civic competences of young Europeans. Another EU expert group on key competences and curriculum reforms is currently focusing its work on assessment, since this was judged to be one of the most important issues for the successful implementation of a competence-based approach at school. The emphasis is on new assessment methods for measuring progress in the areas crucial to the implementation of key competences – skills development and changing attitudes.
In parallel, the EU Youth Strategy 2010-2018 declared fostering active citizenship, social inclusion and solidarity among all young people as one of its main objectives (Council Resolution of 27 November 2009 on a renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-
2018), OJ C311, 19.12.2009 [pdf]. Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/youth/pdf/doc1648_en.pdf [Accessed 07 May 2012]). The Strategy includes several lines of action related to developing citizenship in both formal and non-formal educational activities, for example, ‘participation in civil society and in representative democracy’ and ‘volunteering as a vehicle for social inclusion and citizenship’. In addition, in 2011, two important developments took place: the year was designated as the European Year of Voluntary Activities Promoting Active Citizenship and the Hungarian Presidency chose education for active citizenship as the focus of debate among Education Ministers in an informal meeting in March.
The European Commission’s commitment to promoting active citizenship is longstanding. Two successive action programmes have supported its agenda in this respect. The current Europe for Citizenship Programme (2007-2013) aims to bring citizens closer to the EU and involve them in discussions on its future. It also seeks to encourage active citizenship and promote mutual understanding by bringing people from different parts of Europe together through meetings, exchanges and debates (For more information, see http://ec.europa.eu/citizenship/index_en.htm). Promoting the active participation of European citizens in EU policymaking will also be one of the aims of the 2013 European Year of Citizens for Europe. Finally, the European Commission is cooperating with the Council of Europe to promote the implementation of its Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education, which was adopted by all EU member States in May 2010. In this context, the European Commission and the Council of Europe will organise jointly a conference on the impact of the Charter, to be held in Strasbourg in November 2012.
Objectives and definitions
In the light of these policy developments, the present Eurydice report aims to capture how policies and measures relating to citizenship education have evolved over recent years in European countries. It focuses on the following areas which are integral to the provision of citizenship education:
- Curriculum aims, approaches and organisation
- Student and parent participation in school governance
- School culture and student participation in society
- Student assessment, school evaluation and education system performance
- Education, training and support for teachers and school heads
This report relies on the conceptual framework established in the previous study on the same topic produced by the Eurydice network (Eurydice, 2005), which itself was inspired to some extent by the Council of Europe definitions in its Education for Democratic Citizenship project. As with various other research works in the field of citizenship education, this report derives from an evolved conception of citizenship, acknowledging the fact that it goes far beyond the simple legal relationship between people and the state. This conception of citizenship, which extends to citizens' participation in the political, social and civil life of society, is based on respect for a common set of values at the heart of democratic societies, and can be found in the definition of 'active citizenship' (Hoskins et al., 2006) promoted at European level.
The civic competences needed to be able to actively exercise citizenship, as defined by the European framework for key competences, focus on: a knowledge of basic democratic concepts including an understanding of society and social and political movements; the European integration process and EU structures; and major social developments, both past and present. Civic competences also require skills such as critical thinking and communication skills, and the ability and willingness to participate constructively in the public domain, including in the decision-making process through voting. Finally, a sense of belonging to society at various levels, a respect for democratic values and diversity as well as support for sustainable development are also highlighted as integral components of civic competences.
In the context of this report, citizenship education refers to the aspects of education at school level intended to prepare students to become active citizens, by ensuring that they have the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes to contribute to the development and well-being of the society in which they live. It is a broad concept, which encompasses not only teaching and learning in the classroom but also practical experiences gained through school life and activities in wider society. It encompasses the narrower concept of ‘civic education’, as defined by the IEA, which is restricted to 'knowledge and understanding of formal institutions and processes of civic life (such as voting in elections)' (IEA 2010a, p. 22).
This study provides information on 31 of the Eurydice Network countries (Switzerland and Croatia joined the Eurydice network at the beginning of 2011, but only Croatia participated in the present report), including the EU Member States, Iceland, Norway, Croatia and Turkey. All reforms planned for the coming years have also been taken into account where relevant. Primary, lower and upper secondary education (ISCED levels 1, 2 and 3) are covered. The reference year is 2010/11.
Only public-sector schools are included, except in the case of Belgium, Ireland and the Netherlands, where the grant-aided private sector is also covered, since it accounts for the majority of school enrolments. Moreover, in Ireland the vast majority of schools are legally defined as privately-owned but, in fact, are fully state-funded and do not require the payment of fees by parents. In the Netherlands, equal funding and treatment of private and public education is enshrined in the constitution. Information is mainly based on official regulations, recommendations or guidelines issued by national education authorities or, in the case of Belgium, Spain and Germany, the top-level authorities for education referred to here as the ‘central level’.
The report consists of five chapters, each dealing with a different aspect of citizenship education at school in Europe. Specific examples of national policies and practices are presented in a smaller font style in order to set them apart from the main text. These examples provide practical illustrations of the general statements made in the comparative study or they may add to the discussion by providing specific national details. The examples may also show exceptions to what is seen as a general trend in a number of countries.
Chapter 1 provides an overview of the status of citizenship education in central-level curricula and guidelines, and examines which teaching approaches are recommended for this subject area. Provision may either take the form of a dedicated stand-alone or separate school subject (named differently from one country to the next), a topic integrated within other subjects (such as history, geography, etc.) or a cross-curricular theme to be included in all school subjects. The recommended taught time for the separate subjects dedicated to citizenship education is then reviewed. The chapter subsequently looks at the main objectives and content of citizenship education as contained in central level steering documents. Finally, it offers information on teachers' opinions regarding civic and citizenship education, based on the results of the International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS) of 2009.
Chapter 2 focuses on opportunities for students and parents to participate in school governance, as an aspect of school organisation that can contribute significantly to the development of citizenship knowledge and skills. The chapter provides an in-depth analysis of official regulations and recommendations regarding mechanisms for student and parent involvement in school governance, such as their representation on class councils and school governing bodies. Official regulations and recommendations are put into perspective with data on the actual level of student participation in school elections and in school decision-making, based on results from the ICCS 2009. The chapter also provides information on existing good practice in promoting student involvement in school governance, and existing training programmes to support parent participation.
Chapter 3 continues to discuss how students experience active and democratic citizenship within and beyond the school context. The chapter considers whether countries encourage the promotion of civic action among pupils and civic/democratic values through school life and culture. It reviews and explains how individual countries encourage student participation in society, including in the local community. Finally, it provides information on opportunities for student participation in civic-related community activities across European countries, based on data from the ICCS 2009.
The focus in Chapter 4 is on the evaluation of both provision and outcomes of citizenship education. It discusses the support for teachers in assessing students in the area of citizenship education, particularly with respect to the tools intended to facilitate the assessment of students’ active participation in school life and society. It also examines to what extent students’ achievement in citizenship education is taken into account in decisions on student transition to the next level of education. This chapter analyses whether or not citizenship related issues are considered in school evaluation. And finally, it reviews the monitoring processes used over the last ten years to evaluate the performance of national education systems as they relate to the provision of citizenship education. Chapter 5 explores the qualifications and support for two key groups in the implementation of citizenship education: teachers and school heads. It discusses the qualifications required to teach citizenship and provides illustrations of the wide range of continuing professional development (CPD) programmes related to citizenship education across Europe. It also analyses the role of school heads and investigates whether they have received any specific training to help them implement citizenship education in school.
Descriptions of the main features of national initiatives for encouraging student participation in citizenship-related activities in society are available in the annex. In addition, included on the Eurydice website is country information on the main reforms in citizenship education undertaken since 2005.
The scope of the report was defined in cooperation with the National Units of the Eurydice network and the European Commission’s expert group on indicators for active citizenship within the DG for Education and Culture.
This report is based on answers provided by the National Units of the Eurydice network to two questionnaires developed by the Eurydice Unit within the EACEA. The first questionnaire dealt with student participation in school bodies and resulted in a working document on the same topic that was delivered to Education Ministers during the Hungarian presidency (see above). This information from this working document has been incorporated into Chapter 2 of the present report. The second questionnaire, which addresses all the remaining topics covered in this report (see above), was elaborated in close consultation with the Eurydice network.
The policy information is supported by a secondary analysis of relevant quantitative data supplied by the 2009 International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS) (The study can be consulted at the following web link http://iccs.acer.edu.au/) carried out by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA).
The Eurydice Unit within EACEA is responsible for drafting the report and it was checked by all National Units participating in the study (Liechtenstein and Switzerland did not participate in this report). The executive summary and the conclusions are the sole responsibility of the Eurydice Unit within EACEA. All contributors are acknowledged at the end of the document. Download Citizenship education in Europe.
Engaging in the Modernisation Agenda for European Higher Education
By HARRY DE BOER, BEN JONGBLOED, PAUL BENNEWORTH, DON WESTERHEIJDEN, JON FILE, CENTER FOR HIGHER EDUCATION POLICY STUDIES, UNIVERSITY OF TWENTE (NL). Engaging in the Modernisation Agenda for European Higher Education, MODERN Conference, Brussels, 30 January 2012.
The MODERN project
The new communication from the European Commission “Supporting growth and jobs – an agenda for the modernisation of Europe’s higher education systems” stresses the vital role of European higher education in developing human capital and driving research and innovation in the knowledge economy. The Commission emphasises once again the need to enhance the performance and international attractiveness of Europe’s higher education institutions. European higher education institutions need to modernise their governance and prepare their leaders to operate in increasingly complex sets of interactions at the institutional, regional, national and European level. European policies call for universities to play a strong role to achieve the objectives of the Lisbon Agenda and in making Europe a strong knowledge-based economy. Although the need to prepare university leaders, for increasingly complex positions is so obvious, the supply of management support to higher education institutions, their leaders and managers is highly fragmented in Europe. DownloadEngaging in the Modernisation Agenda for European Higher Education, MODERN Conference, Brussels, 30 January 2012.
In September 2011 the European Commission issued a communication (EC, 2011a) entitled “Supporting growth and jobs – an agenda for the modernisation of Europe’s higher education systems”. The point of departure of this communication is that “...education, and in particular higher education and its links with research and innovation, plays a crucial role in individual and societal advancement, and in providing the highly skilled human capital and the articulate citizens that Europe needs to create jobs, economic growth and prosperity. Higher education institutions are thus crucial partners in delivering the European Union’s strategy to drive forward and maintain growth.” (2011a; 2)
This new communication on the modernisation of European higher education echoes and builds upon themes developed in a series of earlier Commission communications and Council of the European Union resolutions stressing education, research and innovation as pillars of the Lisbon Strategy:
• Investing efficiently in education and training: An imperative for Europe (2003a);
• The role of universities in a Europe of knowledge (2003b);
• Mobilising the brainpower of Europe: enabling European universities to make their full contribution to the Lisbon Strategy (2005b);
• Delivering on the modernisation agenda for universities: Education, Research, and Innovation (2006);
• Modernising universities for Europe’s competitiveness in a global economy (2007)
The Commission’s latest communication stresses that “The main responsibility for delivering reforms in higher education rests with Member States and education institutions themselves. However, the Bologna Process, the EU Agenda for the modernisation of universities and the creation of the European Research Area show that the challenges and policy responses transcend national borders. In order to maximise the contribution of Europe’s higher education systems to smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, reforms are needed in key areas: to increase the quantity of higher education graduates at all levels; to enhance the quality and relevance of human capital development in higher education; to create effective governance and funding mechanisms in support of excellence; and to strengthen the knowledge triangle between education, research and business. Moreover, the international mobility of students, researchers and staff, as well as the growing internationalisation of higher education, have a strong impact on quality and affect each of these key areas.” (2011a;3)
The MODERN project, the European Platform Higher Education Modernisation, aims to create an open platform as a key instrument for innovation, state-of-the-art knowledge, dissemination of good practice and joint action on university leadership, governance and management for the professionalisation of the sector. MODERN aims to contribute to raising awareness in European higher education institutions on the strong need to invest in people, to support potential leaders, and to encourage management training at all levels (junior and senior, academic and administrative staff) to ensure their competitiveness to respond to external challenges – such as those posed by the Modernisation Agenda itself. (For further information see: www.highereducationmanagement.eu)
This report is the last in a series of six reports to be published by the MODERN project on key issues related to current priorities in higher education management: governance, regional innovation, quality assurance and internationalisation, funding, and knowledge transfer. These five thematic reports, all written by staff members of the Center for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS) of the University of Twente, the Netherlands (and all available on the MODERN web-site) are:
• Higher Education Governance Reforms across Europe: Harry de Boer and Jon File (2009)
• Funding Higher Education: A view across Europe: Ben Jongbloed (2010)
• Internationalisation and its quality assurance: Don Westerheijden (2010)
• University Engagement and Regional Innovation: Paul Benneworth (2010)
• Towards a Strategic Management Agenda for University Knowledge Exchange: Paul Benneworth (2011)
In selecting these five themes the MODERN steering committee focused on key policy areas identified in the Modernisation Agenda of 2007. The extracts from the September 2011 communication quoted above demonstrate that these themes remain highly relevant today. Our reports cover governance reform, funding reform, internationalisation and quality, and two central aspects of the knowledge triangle: knowledge exchange and regional innovation. So, while by no means providing an exhaustive coverage of all of the areas of the current modernisation agenda, our reports focus on many of its key components.
All five reports were written with a particular purpose in mind: as background resource materials for thematic MODERN conferences which would bring together university leaders and managers as well as providers and potential providers of higher education leadership and management development workshops and programmes to discuss the challenges that trends, policies and developments around the theme in question might create for university leaders and management. The outcomes of such discussions would form a valuable input into the development of new or improved management development activities.
This sixth and final report was envisaged to be an extended executive summary of the first five reports to provide an easily accessible and relatively concise overview of trends and developments across the five selected thematic areas. The publication of the September communication has however also provided an opportunity to explore the relevance of our analyses to the latest Modernisation Agenda. Our report will once again serve as background resource material for a (final) MODERN conference: “Engaging in the Modernisation Agenda for European Higher Education” to be held in Brussels on 30 January 2012.
The structure of this report is therefore straightforward: Part One is an attempt on our part to start a process of engagement with, and conference discussion about, the new modernisation agenda primarily from a MODERN perspective: from the angle of the five MODERN thematic areas and grounded in an interest in effective university leadership and management. Part Two contains the extended executive summaries of the five MODERN thematic reports (some needed to be more extended than others)......
Principles for effective regional innovation
Regional innovation is one way in which universities can demonstrate their fulfilment of the societal compact. But to understand how regional engagement and innovation can contribute to modernising Europe’s universities the following issues and challenges emerge:
1. How to balance regional innovation with the universities’ core missions, particularly when there are such strong pressures for universities to focus on a particular mission (‘profiling’). Is regional engagement a task for a sub-set of HEIs or potentially appropriate for all HEIs?
2. There is a strategic management challenge for universities in the sense of optimising the ‘base load’ of regional innovation activity on the one hand and, on the other, thinking strategically about the opportunities which the regions offer for on-going institutional development.
3. How to capitalise on existing activities and partners and to improve based on what is already done with regional partners?
In terms of the first challenge, the framing of regional engagement and innovation as part of the third mission is not very helpful. The notion of a ‘third mission’ suggests something peripheral to universities’ core activities, hinting at an industrial liaison office or an engagement and placements centre. However, effective regional innovation involves exploiting emerging opportunities for societal engagement and networking to improve the salience, relevance and quality of the core tasks undertaken by universities. What this review makes clear is that there are no practical or conceptual reasons why excellent research cannot also be societally useful. In terms of the second challenge, the strategic management of regional innovation activities by universities, there are two types of activities to assess. First, the engagement activities already underway within universities.
Here the issue is how to optimise these activities to maximise the benefits they bring to the university consummate with the efforts and risks involved. Second, undertaking new, flagship, developmental regional innovation activities. These will bring the management challenge of attempting to change the way that things are done and to handle the relationships between regional actors. The latter type of activity implies a great deal more risk and uncertainty. The complex dynamics of the relationships require careful management and risk sharing if both universities and regions are to obtain the greatest benefit from their collaborations.
The final challenge relates to universities managing their regional engagement activities to maximise the benefits and opportunities, and minimise costs and risk. This involves writing a strategy, publishing policies and guidelines (covering things like intellectual property, building hire, staff and student volunteering, and participation in public life), allocating resources to encourage, stimulate and reward engagement, establishing performance indicators and targets, then monitoring progress towards the strategic goals. This will need to be discussed with the internal and regional stakeholders of the university to ensure that the potential benefits of regional engagement are legitimate.
Once these challenges have been addressed and digested, European HEIs will be better equipped to reinvent themselves as institutions central to securing long-term economic prosperity, social cohesion and environmental sustainability for Europe as a whole. DownloadEngaging in the Modernisation Agenda for European Higher Education, MODERN Conference, Brussels, 30 January 2012.
Invest in Australia’s Future, Invest in Our Universities
Universities are facing a crisis. Decades of underfunding have left them with declining infrastructure, overcrowded classrooms, overworked staff, higher levels of casualisation, and an unhealthy dependence on international fee income to fund all aspects of their work.
Universities help to develop our young people, our workforce, our communities and our aspirations. They do essential practical and theoretical research and they help build lives and skills that make a valuable contribution to our communities.
With one of the world’s most prosperous economies, there is no excuse not to invest more in our universities and Australia’s future.
About the Campaign
The Invest in Australia’s Future campaign is arguing for an initial 10% increase in public funding per government supported student and a measured increase of public investment in universities to bring it to an equivalent of 1% of Gross Domestic Product. This would put Australia on an even footing with the university systems of other industrialised economies, and would provide the best chance for Australia to generate a more secure economic future beyond the mining boom.
These papers provide an overview of the reasons why this increase in investment is necessary and must largely come from public sources.
Australian universities are finding it increasing difficult to maintain the quality of the educational experience that they are able to offer students, as well the quality of research and community service. NTEU argues that there are signs of a sector rapidly approaching breaking point.
NTEU supports an initial 10% increase in public funding per government-supported university student and a measured increase of public investment in universities to an equivalent of 1% Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This would put Australia on an even footing with the university systems of other industrialised economies. It would also provide the best opportunity to generate a more secure economic future beyond the mining boom.
This briefing paper provides an overview of the reasons why this increase in investment is necessary. It also outlines why this investment must largely come from public sources.
The evidence presented in the paper shows that sustained and substantial cuts in real government base funding per student, from the mid 1990s until recently, have been associated with a rise in Student Staff Ratios (SSR). SSR at universities have increased from about 13 students for each class in 1990 to over 22 students in 2011. This means that there are twice as many students per staff member and that Australian universities now have amongst the highest university SSR in the industrialised world. Recent surveys of students indicate concerns with the quality of facilities and lack of access to staff, especially casual staff who are not simply not around when students wish to consult with them.
Australian universities are finding it increasing difficult to maintain the quality of the educational experience that they are able to offer students, as well the quality of research and community service.
Australia’s Future Skills and Educational Needs
The most recent and comprehensive analysis of Australia’s future workforce needs was undertaken by Skills Australia. In addition to identifying a need to lift Australia’s relatively low workforce participation rate and improve adult literacy and numeracy, Australian Workforce Futures: A National Workforce Development Strategy, also concludes that Australia needs to increase the productivity of its workforce. The report concludes that:
We need a workforce in which more people have skills, but also multiple and higher level skills and qualifications.
According to the highest (Open Doors) growth scenario of economic modelling undertaken by Access Economics, the proportion of the workforce requiring qualifications (at Certificate III level or above) will increase from 52% in 2007 to 62% in 2015 and almost 70% by 2025.
When these projections are broken down by level of qualification for the periods 2010 to 2025, as shown in Figure 1, several interesting trends are apparent.
Firstly, the demand for workers without any post-school qualifications is expected to fall on average by 0.6% per annum over the next 15 years. Secondly, the projected increase of demand for qualifications predominantly offered by universities (Bachelor degree and above) is estimated to be considerably higher at 4% per annum, compared to qualifications predominantly offered by the VET / TAFE sector at 2.9% per annum. Growth in demand rises as the qualification level increases, indicating that the Australian economy not only needs more qualified persons but people with higherlevel qualifications as well.
Education provides enormous social benefits through better health, employment, housing, justice and community engagement. While most Australians understand that there is a direct link between education and productivity, it is more than just an investment in human capital and meeting the needs of an ever changing labour market. As such, if we are to secure our economic future and support our social development, there must be greater investment in physical, social and human infrastructure, a critical component of which is through our universities.
Who should pay for university?
There is no doubt that students gain a personal benefit over their lifetime from their education. However, their access to that education can be limited or restricted by the initial perception and/or reality of the costs. In addition to Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) charges, cost of living expenses are high for many.
Australia’s universities are fast approaching breaking point and are in urgent need of a substantial increase in funding. Free market economists and conservative social commentators argue that if universities need additional funding then university students or graduates should pay more. NTEU believes that there are compelling economic, social and equity reasons as to why any increases in investment in Australia’s public universities should come from government. They should not be imposed on students in the form of higher fees or HECS charges.
Regions & Communities.
Social and Community Benefits
As a consequence of their research and teaching activities, regional universities are important drivers of their region’s economic and social development. A recent study by Charles Sturt University estimated the total economic impact of the University to the communities where it was located to be almost $1billion. This is largely due to the University’s status as a major regional employer and the economic activity generated by students living in the region. The University also provides a number of important social and community services in areas of identified need. These include dental and oral health clinics, the Functional Rehabilitation Clinic, the Allied Health Clinic, a veterinary clinic, the Kajulu Advertising Agency and 2MCE Community Radio.
Regional universities typically place a high priority on regionally focused and collaborative research, and provide local businesses, government and community groups with access to professional, technical and consulting services. Knowledge exchange also occurs through mechanisms such as business incubators, science and technology parks, staff and student secondments and placements, and exchanges between the university and business or community groups. Through their learning and teaching programs, regional universities are able to contribute to local economic and social development by tailoring courses to meet community needs and aspirations.
Higher Education and Export Earnings
The education sector is Australia’s thirdlargest export industry, generating around $19.1billion in export revenues in 2009-10.  Universities account for more than half of this income at around $10billion. The income received from this effort is used to subsidise domestic teaching and research, however, a range of issues have impacted on projections for future international income.
While improvements have been made to visa arrangements, the relative strength of the Australian dollar and increasing competition from other countries will mean that there is no longer the ability to rely upon this income to prop up the sector. Worse than this, as budgetary pressures squeeze institutional behavior, the need to cut corners will threaten the reputation of our universities, and thereby further damage our ability to attract this income.
If we are to remain internationally competitive, it is important that public funding levels at least match the average contribution of other OECD countries.
It is vital that increased levels of public investment translate to improved quality of education for students and better job security for researchers, academics and support staff. Lifting the level of public funding should also be tied to improved student-staff ratios and a reduction in the reliance on casual and short term teaching and research employment in universities. In this way, NTEU believes that the international standing of our universities can not only be assured, but enhanced.
La Trobe University pushes ahead with massive cuts in Humanities and Social Sciences
A document issued by La Trobe University today outlined cuts of up to 37 equivalent full-time positions plus a further four to go by 2015.
NTEU La Trobe Branch President, Virginia Mansel Lees, said that the faculty was being held to ransom by a partly manufactured budget crisis.
“Currently, the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences contributes 54 cents in the dollar to central administration, which is more than other comparable faculties at other universities. A reduction of 3 cents (or 3%) would go a long way toward saving jobs. The University Council is in a position to alter the budget parameters which it has set, as it has done for another area of the University,” she said.
“Staff members are distressed by the high level of the proposed cuts and believe that it threatens the viability of the faculty. The effect on regional campuses will be acute with courses in Politics, and Religion and Spirituality, to be abolished at the Bendigo campus.
“The proposal will radically curtail the options for students on smaller regional campuses, including for higher degree studies.”
Ms Mansel Lees said that while Gender, Sexuality and Diversity Studies, and Art History will be maintained, they will be merged into other departments so the future of the current teaching staff remains uncertain.
Dr Jack Reynolds, NTEU La Trobe Branch secretary, condemned the high level of the cuts.
“The revised proposal is marginally better than what was initially proposed, but is far short of anything with which we could be satisfied. The faculty has around a $4 million surplus and it seems clear that this restructure is designed to free up funds in order to cross-subsidise research elsewhere in the university,” he said.
“The most important improvement has been the decision to retain Indonesian studies which will experience no job losses. Undergraduate Linguistics will be retained, though as a minor area of studies, with one less position.”
Staff members at today’s forum expressed a lack of confidence that their views have been properly taken into consideration.
“The NTEU continues to have serious concerns about continued inaccuracies, including how subjects currently on the books are counted,” Dr Reynolds said.
For further information and comment:
Virginia Mansel Lees: President, NTEU La Trobe University Branch: 0438 282 146.
Dr Jack Reynolds: Secretary, NTEU La Trobe University Branch (03) 9479 3605.
Are China and India Taking Over the Global Talent Pool?
Trends elsewhere also contribute to this new reality. The slowing of population growth in most OECD countries and the actual significant decline in the number of university-age people in such countries as Japan and Russia as well as more modest declines in some others contribute to changes in the percentages of graduates globally. The failure of a few countries, such as the United States, to translate increases in access to higher education to degree completion is another contributor. Additionally, the economic slowdowns in North America and Europe will no doubt negatively affect degree completion rates as students drop out for financial reasons, postsecondary institutions raise tuition to levels that will be unmanageable for many students, and academic offerings are cut back. These trends are already evident in the United States, with California leading the way in the decline of public higher education.
A key element in this discussion is quality. An inevitable result of massification is the overall decline in the quality of many academic systems—teaching staff are likely to have lower qualifications, and students are admitted with sub-par academic preparation. This inevitably means that many graduates will lack appropriate skills. This problem has already received considerable attention in both China and India. For example, the large Indian infotech companies find that a large majority of engineering graduates do not have the knowledge needed to work in industry and are obliged to retrain them.
Since China and India have participation rates well under OCED averages—just 11 percent for India and a bit more than 20 percent for China—it is inevitable that their share of global degrees will increase in the coming period as the percentage of the age cohort enrolling increases and catches up with more developed economies. But we need to examine the implications of this trend and not jump to conclusions.
Another trend that may not affect the total number of degrees obtained in any specific country but has consequences for the economy and labor market is the degree program that students choose to study. In many countries, engineering and some STEM fields are losing popularity and fields such as communications, business, and languages are gaining favor. In North America and much of Europe including Russia engineering enrolments are trending down.
Thus, while the new OECD survey provides useful information and has considerations for policy, the important lessons may not be quite what most commentators are focusing on.
New Research on Value of Diversity
Roger Clegg, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a group that opposes the consideration of race in admissions, questioned the study. In an e-mail message, he said: "The issues chosen to show how racial diversity correlates with perspective diversity are deliberately narrow (Anything about property? How about tax? ....), and of course law itself is a discipline in which such correlation is more likely than most others (Is there a Latina perspective in chemistry? Mathematics? Economics? Engineering? Russian? Etc.) Even if there are some educational benefits to having racial diversity in a class on "Race and the Law," that would not justify racial preferences in undergraduate admissions to the University of Texas."
18-19 October European Education and Training Forum 2012
1) Education and training aspects of Europe 2020 and
2) the future Erasmus for All programme.
Further information and invitations will come in early September. See previous editions of the Forum.
Innovative Approaches to Doctoral Education and Research Training in Africa - IAU-ACUP International Seminar
Hosted by the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development (EiABC), Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 12-13 July 2012.
The International Association of Universities (IAU) and the Association of Catalan Public Universities (ACUP) were pleased to co-organize the international seminar on doctoral education and research training in Africa.
Bringing together participants from 19 higher education institutions, representing 14 countries, and 8 different higher education associations and organizations, the Seminar allowed for a discussion of the current state of doctoral education in Africa and was also the opportunity for participants to present various success stories. The participants also set out a series of recommendations and steps for future action to improve doctoral education.
The seminar programme and presentations can be accessed here.
The list of institutions and countries represented is available here.
For pictures from the seminar, please click here.
The Seminar Report and the Addis Conclusions and Declaration are being drafted and will be made available in October.
IAU and ACUP are also delighted to announce the creation of an Interactive Web based Portal on Doctoral Education in and for Africa. Developed by IAU and ACUP, in cooperation with the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), this portal on doctoral education and training is to encourage the exchange of information and ideas related to doctoral programs and their overall management. The portal will be launched in October.
Hilligje van’t Land, Director, Membership and Programme Development (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Nadja Gmelch, Project Manager (email@example.com).
The future of shared services in higher education
Steve Butcher, HEFCE's head of procurement, will be speaking at this policy and practice briefing.
The Government has announced that shared services will receive an exemption from VAT, removing what the Diamond Review identified as a significant barrier to collaboration between universities. In order for the higher education sector to take advantage of this change and establish high-quality shared services, institutions will need to simplify, streamline and improve their internal processes. With resources stretched, how can HEIs achieve this aim?
Who should attend
Delegates will be drawn from a wide range of stakeholders, including: universities, colleges, charities, professional bodies, employers and relevant central Government departments and agencies.
The event is being organised by Westminster Briefing. Further details and how to register.
Where does the time go?
How do different higher education institutions approach staff time allocation? This is the subject of a report published today, ‘Review of time allocation methods’, that will inform the costing of activities in higher education.
In the past, allocation of staff time in higher education institutions was often considered to be at odds with the important need for academic freedom. However, the study found that time allocation processes have evolved, and are becoming accepted as the norm across a large number of institutions in the sector.
The importance of an institution’s ability to demonstrate accountability for the funding it receives from various sources has grown. At a time when student expectations and resource challenges are increasing, institutions need processes to ensure a fair and equitable allocation of work.
Although time allocation processes can be seen by staff as onerous, the study found that for academic staff the average burden of recording time spent on activities is approximately two hours per year.
Effective time allocation is a requirement to access funding from Higher Education Funding Councils, the Research Councils and the European Commission. The data also inform the Government’s funding policy and provide valuable information for consideration in government Spending Reviews.
Other findings in the report include:
- Although there are many important issues to consider in designing a time allocation process, the communications supporting its implementation, operation and relevance are the factors with the greatest influence on its success.
- It can be the case that academic staff do not appreciate the direct link made between the need for the time allocation process and the receipt of funding.
- The average time taken by academic staff to comply with time allocation requirements was a little over two hours per year. This represents approximately 0.1 per cent of total academic staff costs.
- A small number of opportunities are identified for reducing the apparent burden of time allocation processes, which could also further enhance the reliability of the information.
- The current time allocation methods that are used in the full economic costing process are largely appropriate and in line with the recommendations from various studies in this area.
The report makes 12 recommendations. A number relate to enhancing the approach to time allocation, recognising that there is no one answer, and a range of institutional requirements. Other recommendations are for better communications, so that those being asked to provide the data have a clearer understanding of its purpose. There are also recommendations around further improving management information.
Professor Stuart Palmer, former Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Warwick, and Chair, TRAC Development Group, commented that:
‘There has been considerable debate in the HE community about time allocation. This report suggests that communications could be improved, so providers of time data understand why they are being asked to provide it. In addition institutions’ management information needs are increasing in this area, and I hope that the findings and recommendations in the report can help further enhance the sector’s practices.’