EAEA president Sue Waddington introduced EAEA´s Recommendations and Policy Paper on Active Ageing through Adult Learning in the European Parliament on 27 September. EAEA and Austrian MEP Heinz K. Becker (EPP) organised a Policy Debate in the framework of European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations. In addition to MEP Becker, the debaters included Slovakian MEP Katarína Neveďalová (S&D) and Head of the Adult Education Unit Tapio Säävälä from the European Commission's Directorate-General for Education and Culture. Jane Watts from the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE), Georg Müllner (E.N.T.E.R - Network) and Davide di Pietro (Lunaria) represented the civil society among the debaters.
Ageing population has potential
In the coming decades the number of over 60-year-olds will increase from 5 percent to 12 percent of the population. In 60 years one third of the European population will be outside the working life.
- This has serious implications to Europe and EU´s member states, stated Tapio Säävälä from the Commission. This being said, Säävälä underlined that an ageing population is not only a threat: it has great possibilities for the society as a whole.
- One of the key questions is how to keep up the skills in a Europe where people live and work longer, he said.
EAEA tackles the issue
The value of lifelong learning for older people has been identified in research and international policy frameworks. In its Recommendations and Policy Paper EAEA identifies several key areas that must be addressed in order to create an efficient adult education service for older people. The recommendations include securing access to high quality learning for older persons by clear information on learning of older persons. Also the digital gap should be bridged by targeting elders within ICT strategies and policies. Several speakers and participants welcomed EAEA´s recommendations and policy paper.
- We support EAEA´s policy paper and recommendations, MEP Becker said.
NIACE's own research bears EAEA´s recommendations completely.
- We will distribute these documents in the national level in the United Kingdom, announced Jane Watts from NIACE.
Raising awareness to the top of the agenda
MEP Becker found awareness raising on the benefits of learning later in life one of the top priorities.
- Awareness raising is number one and needs nothing but doing. Benefits of learning, including the intergenerational aspect and health aspect have to be promoted. If we put effort to awareness raising on benefits of learning later in life, we will soon meet other aspects as well, Becker said. Awareness should be raised among the political decision makers as well.
- We try to support adult education and learning in older age to our best knowledge. However, we need the civil society actors to tell us what to do, explained MEP Katarína Neveďalová, the Shadow Rappourteur of the Erasmus for all.
We know much about the effectiveness of education in general, but less about how the various types of education play out in the labour market. If we compare a graduate of vocational education with a graduate of general education, which of them is more likely to get a good job on graduation? Which of them is more likely to get a stable job, or get a job quickly? Will their wages rise in step, or does one fall behind?
In this new report, Cedefop looks at labour market outcomes for young people in Europe and across countries. Using data from the EU Labour Force Survey (2009), it examines how the various levels and orientations of education affect employment prospects, the transition to work, job quality and wages. The findings of the report should be placed within a larger picture, taking into account the structural changes in EU labour markets and how they are expected to affect the demand for occupations in different sectors. Download From education to working life.
The conference Experiences with Link and Match in Higher Education. Results of Tracer Studies Worldwide (EXLIMA) takes place from 22 to 23 October 2012 in Denpasar/Bali (Indonesia). EXLIMA is organised by the Career Centre of the University of Indonesia in co-operation with the International Centre of Higher Education Research of the University of Kassel (Germany).
A maximum of 300 participants – mainly researchers and scholars dealing with tracer studies – are accepted.
EXLIMA is organized with the friendly assistance of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
The relationships between higher education and the world of work is one of the current key issues of higher education policy and practice. There is a common belief that the expansion of student enrolment contributes to economic growth and societal well-being. However, concerns are widespread that graduates might face problems of getting employed, of finding appropriate employment and of taking over professional assignments for which their study turns out be relevant. Terms such as “mismatch” and “over-education” express such concerns.
Studies on graduate employment and work, often called “tracer studies”, have spread worldwide in recent years in order to collect in-depth information on the relationships between study at higher education institutions and the professional situation of graduates.
An account of the approaches and the findings of tracer studies can help both to understand the potentials of these studies and to analyse our worldwide state of knowledge about the ways higher education may contribute more successfully to the subsequent career of graduates.
The international conference envisaged aims at serving the exchange of information on tracer studies both methodologically and with regard to content:
(a) to deepen the understanding of the links between curricula, learning, competences as well as graduate employment and work,
(b) to discuss how tracer studies have to be designed and implemented in order to elicit the most valuable results.
Therefore, the organizers of the conference call for contributions which combine a strong research approach with empirical work on data from tracer studies, especially on the following research questions in three areas:
A. Link and Match: The Relationships between Study, Graduate Employment and Work
1. NEETS, Freeters and Generation Precaire: Graduates’ under- and unemployment – similarities and differences around the world; who and how many are they?
2. Causes and consequences of over-education and mismatch
3. The relationships between curricula, competences and work tasks
4. Professional success: What does really matter – study programs, motivations, mobility, personal characteristics?
5. Changing job requirements and employers' expectations: causes and developments
6. How to measure graduates professional success? Applications of success indicators
7. Transition to the labor market: individual, institutional or structural factors of success and failure (duration of job search and search methods)
8. Striving for excellence or serving the society? Diversity of higher education: the relevance of degree levels, types of higher education institutions, field of study and institutions
9. Effects of student-centered learning for learning outcomes/competencies and work
10. Effects of different modes of practice-oriented study programs on learning outcomes/competencies and work
11. The extent of practical training in higher education programs and the relevance for employability and professional work
12. The extent of temporary international mobility during study and the relevance for employability and professional work
13. Equity regarding the transition to employment and professional success – the relevance of gender, social class, minorities, etc.
14. Other topics – open for additional contributions
B. Methodology of Tracer Studies
1. Thematic complexity and formulation of questionnaires: What can be learned from various approaches?
2. Tracer studies and link and match: Potentials and limits of tracer studies as a feedback for higher education institutions
3. Methods to enhance the quality of tracer studies: verification and update of addresses, online surveys, response rate and representativity
4. Applications of structural equation modeling with tracer study data (and other advanced data analysis strategies)
5. Methodological challenges of comparative studies/comparability of tracer studies
6. Other methodological topics – open for additional contributions.
C. Implementation of Tracer Studies in Different Countries
Progress in implementing tracer studies (e.g. best-practice examples from different countries)
3. Asia and Australia
The European Commission’s Jean Monnet Conference on the theme of 'Sustainable growth in the European Union – the role of education and training' will take place in Brussels from 13 to 14 November 2012.
The conference aims to provide input to the “ongoing debates on the need to adapt education and training systems to cope efficiently with the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century, as a crucial element to get the European Union out of the present crisis”. Each of the conference themes will be discussed in a dialogue between Members of the European Parliament and the European Commission, academics, Jean Monnet professors and journalists.
Registration is possible through the event website, which can be accessed with the password “npec”.
Providing education and training to cope with the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century is a crucial requirement to get the EU out of the current crisis. To achieve the Europe 2020 targets, education and training systems should be able to recognise and even anticipate the demands of the labour market. The full potential of educational and training institutions must be exploited through the use of new pedagogical methods which promote open, flexible and innovative ways of learning. In order to adapt education and training systems to produce real outcomes in terms of skills, further development of the relationship between technology, education and training is a key priority, with the overarching aim of promoting smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
Bills 1052 and 1053, passed last week, call for creating free, open source digital textbooks for 50 of the most widely taken introductory courses among the University of California, and California Community College systems, and creating a state digital open source library to house the texts.
But just how much an impact this legislation will have on students’ out-of-pocket textbook costs is impossible to predict until the texts have been created and made available, says Jason Lorgan, director of the University of California, Davis stores.
“The principles of academic freedom would still be in play,” says Lorgan. “The faculty member would still have to determine if [the material] is appropriate for their course.”
Use of the texts will not be mandatory, so it will take most instructors’ willingness to adopt the textbooks in order for any true impact to be seen. Put into perspective, assuming biology is one of the subjects chosen for a digital textbook, there may be 1,000 intro to biology classes in California, with 40 different textbooks in use in those courses, shares Lorgan. “In the existing marketplace, faculty don’t often agree on what the best content is to teach their students in their course.”
The quality of the texts, of course, will be key for getting open source doubters on board.
“We have very few faculty on our campus that are currently using open educational resources,” says Lorgan. “The number one reason faculty have given is they don’t feel the content is of comparable quality to the textbooks existing in the marketplace now. If the quality is spectacular and faculty adopt these materials in significant numbers there will be a significant affordability impact, but it’s really hard to predict until we see the materials.”
UC Davis was one of the first in the nation to test digital textbooks about seven years ago, and has been offering them as an option for hundreds of courses ever since. But despite an average 40 percent savings over the print texts, 98 percent of students at the university still choose print, shares Lorgan. For those not interested in digital textbooks, the open-source texts will be available in print for around $20, depending on length.
The state is working toward a goal of having the first free books available for the 2013-2014 school year.
The California Institute of Technology maintains its grip on the top of the rankings, repeating its showing from the year before. However, Harvard University, last year’s runner up, slipped two places to number four to make room for California’s Stanford University and UK’s University of Oxford, which tied for second. At first glance, the position of U.S. institutions remains as strong as ever by retaining possession of seven of the top ten slots. Of the top 200, 76 are American universities, a gain of one over last year’s list.
Still, the relative position of those 76 tells a much more alarming story.
The Times Higher Education World University Rankings are the world’s most comprehensive and carefully calibrated global rankings, using 13 separate performance indicators to examine a university’s strengths against all of its core missions – teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. All data are collected, analysed and verified by global data provider Thomson Reuters.
The methodology, which is identical to the one used last year, presents a picture of a slipping grip on premier educational status by institutions in the U.S. and Western Europe, and the steady rise of schools in Asia-Pacific. The biggest impact seems to have been on institutions mostly funded by public money as many U.S. state universities, while still appearing on the list, declined from their position the year before. Those include members of the University of California system such as UC Davis, which went from 38th place last year to 44th this year. Several other state schools performed similarly, including Pennsylvania State University (from 51st to 61st), University of Massachusetts (from 64th to 72nd,) and Arizona State University, which slipped down to become one of the lowest ranked U.S. schools on the list at 148.
Still, American schools performed well compared to Canadian universities for whom this year’s edition of the rankings offered almost no good news at all. Of the nine Canadian institutions represented on the list last year, only eight returned, with Queen’s University falling off the rankings entirely. Of the remainder, only two moved up: the University of Montreal jumped 20 places from 104th to 84th and the University of Ottawa went up from 185th to 171st.
In stark contrast, the leading universities from across the Asia-Pacific region saw significant improvements.
China’s two top 200 institutions both rose, with Peking University moving from 49th to 46th and Tsinghua jumping 19 places from 71st to 52nd. Thanks to extremely strong income figures, Singapore’s two top 200 institutions saw spectacular success. The National University of Singapore moved from 40th to 29th and Nanyang Technological University rocketed up the table from 169th to 86th.
Universities in South Korea also had good showings. Not only had each of the schools on the list last year gained in standing, an additional South Korean school entered the top 200: Yonsei University at 183rd. The press release accompanying the new edition of the list took a particular note of the “spectacular” improvement by Seoul National University, which, in one year, went from 124th to 59th.
Editor of Times Higher Education rankings Phil Baty took note of the fact that the grip by American universities on the rankings seems to be loosening.
“America’s lead in global higher education and research is faltering. The US still has by far the most world-class universities of any nation, and its leading institutions remain the very best in the world – but there are signs of dangerous complacency and the start of the decline of a world-leading university sector.
“While household names MIT, Caltech and Berkeley hold on to top positions, the US as a whole has suffered serious decline – of the 71 institutions ranked in the top 200, 51 have fallen down the table.
“This comes down to money. For many years, the US has been the world’s biggest investor in tertiary education, spending more of its gross domestic product than any other developed nation on its universities — but not anymore. Latest figures from the OECD show that the US spend has dipped – from 2.8 per cent to 2.6 per cent – and South Korea has caught up.
Baty noted that while America seems to be rolling back its investment in higher education — something that is already having an impact on the rankings of its formerly well-performing public universities — countries in the Asia-Pacific region are increasing the percentage of GDP allocated towards university funding. He theorizes that this is one of the reasons behind their rapid rise up the list.
Still, money isn’t everything as proved by the Canadian example. At 2.5% of GDP, Canada spends well above the OECD average on higher education, but it is not seeing much of a return on its investment. On average, Canada’s showing was 5 slots lower than their performance last year.
Writing in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings publication in a personal capacity, Dirk Van Damme, the head of the Innovation and Measuring Progress Division at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, said: “Academic excellence is gradually shifting away from the 20th-century centres. The US and UK still dominate the absolute top, but they face a severe loss of total ranking positions in the top 200 list.”
It was also revealed students from outside Britain took out some £88.5m worth of Government-backed loans to cover tuition fees in 2010/11 – a doubling of the total over three years. It comes despite the fact that some European students currently fail to make repayments after graduating – leaving a multi-million pound black-hole in the public finances.
The findings prompted fresh concerns that Europeans were accounting for an increasingly large share of the universities’ budget at a time of cutbacks across the higher education sector. It was also claimed a rise in the number of students from outside Britain was creating extra competition for places at the most sought-after universities. More...
Things looked rosy for Cambridge last month. Yes, the university may have lost pole position in the world university rankings to nerd’s paradise MIT. But in taking second place, three slots clear of its great rival Oxford and two ahead of UCL, it reaffirmed its status as the UK’s leading light in higher education.
Or did it? Today’s world rankings paint a different picture. Cambridge only manages seventh place, while Oxford clambers up to joint-second. UCL is a mere 17th. And what of MIT? Much lauded for its apparently peerless technological research last month, it now gazes up longingly at first-placed California Institute of Technology.
The obvious reason for these discrepancies is the use of different ranking systems. Today’s Times Higher Education tables are a different beast to last month’s QS World University Rankings. Although nominally answering the same question, they don’t share a methodology, a data set or indeed a winner.
Rather than argue over which is right, UK universities should perhaps just be glad that the widely respected Shanghai Ranking is less well-known on these shores – none of our universities come close to ending Harvard’s 10 years at the top of that list.
So, where can prospective students turn for answers? The simple truth is that there is no such thing as a definitive table. But in fact the wildly differing outcomes of these tables make them more, not less, useful. The key is in knowing how to interpret them. More...
Outside the elite Golden Triangle of Oxbridge and London, the relative performance of the UK's research-intensive universities is slipping, analysis of the 2012-13 Times Higher Education World University Rankings shows.
Despite UK institutions on average improving scores across most criteria, a surge in performance elsewhere has seen UK universities in the top 200 slip by an average of 6.7 places.
Meanwhile, the US continues to dominate the rankings. Its universities claimed 76 places in the top 200, although 51 lost ground.
Wendy Piatt, director general of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities, said the rankings show that its institutions continue to punch above their weight but that the UK cannot afford to take the path of the US, where cuts in state investment have seriously weakened some public universities.
"The UK cannot afford to be outmanoeuvred by other countries that clearly recognise that investment in their leading universities is the key to growth," she said.
Asian universities, especially in the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and China, performed particularly well in the rankings, published on 3 October, rising by an average of almost 12 places.
In the UK, although the University of Oxford rose two places to joint second and Imperial College London and University College London held on to their places at eighth and 17th respectively, several other research-intensive institutions slipped.
Notable among those dropping down the table are the University of Bristol, falling eight places to 74th, and the University of St Andrews, sliding 23 places to 108th. The University of Leeds fell nine places to joint 142nd, and the University of Sheffield slipped nine places to joint 110th. More...
By Jonathan Marks. As a politics professor, I feel I should know something about health policy, but it is mostly dread that made me sign up for Ezekiel Emanuel’s class, Health Policy and the Affordable Care Act, through Coursera. Word is that higher education is about to be disrupted by online providers, like Coursera and Udacity, and their MOOCs (massive open online courses). If students can take political philosophy with Harvard’s Michael Sandel for free, why will they pay to take it with me?
Have you seen Professor Sandel’s course? I bet I am not alone in wanting to take his more than I want to take mine. Sebastian Thrun, co-founder of Udacity, predicts that in 50 years there will be no more than 10 higher education institutions. Thrun isn’t quietly waiting for his prediction to pan out, either. Pearson VUE recently contracted to administer proctored final exams for some of Udacity’s courses, an important step toward offering credit that most colleges will find hard to reject. More...