A conference to be held on 25 and 26 April 2013 organised by: The Higher Education Research Group (Institute for Education, Community and Society, The University of Edinburgh) in partnership with The Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE).
CALL FOR PAPERS
Higher education matters in this world. Indeed, it matters more than ever before in its long history. In the so-called ‘knowledge economy’ and ‘knowledge society’ higher education is high on every government’s agenda. Higher education, or more precisely the returns expected from investments into higher education, is seen to matter profoundly. But the title of this symposium is precisely not ‘The world as if higher education mattered’. In the current social, political and economic context such a statement would become meaningless, confusing even. It would be like saying ‘Water as if life mattered’. Of course it does. However, when turned around as in ‘Higher Education as if the World Mattered’ it makes us ‘stop and think’. Now the words ‘as if’ assume significance as they imply that there are some real questions to be asked about the extent to which the world is seen to matter in the present policy context characterising higher education.
Viewed in most general terms, the world is the physical and social space that we share with our fellow human beings and non-human species. It involves the various local communities and indeed the global community with whom we live together and with whom we share our natural environment, our planet and the universe. Of course, some may observe, higher education matters because the world matters! Investment in higher education, it might be said, is profoundly important for the world, and not only in developing countries. While this surely is the case, the point is that the value attached to higher education is increasingly seen in economic terms thereby risking that we lose sight of the other goods associated with higher education. We might ask, therefore, to what extent, the increased emphasis on economic returns is associated with a neglect of cultivating and demonstrating a real care for our social and natural world.
While higher education is known to enhance people’s life chances, questions remain to be asked about how the goods to be gained from higher education are presently distributed. Despite policies that are meant to increase access to higher education for under-represented sections of society we know that in a highly stratified society and higher education system even widened entry does not guarantee greater social justice in relation to access, for example. Against this backdrop, broad questions that the symposium will address include: To what extent and how do higher education policies and practices make a difference to this world? What are present priorities and how could things be otherwise? To what extent does higher education address community and environmental concerns? To what extent are participants encouraged to make a contribution to the world?
This conference, and a book that will be associated with it, therefore, seek to explore social justice in and through higher education by examining recent policies and practices in relation to six broad strands of higher education: Research and knowledge mobilisation; Curriculum; Pedagogy; Access and participation; Institutional leadership; Quality and educational development. Contributions in each section seek to analyse the assumptions underpinning policy and practice, arrive at judgements about the extent to which the world is seen to matter and offer suggestions on how things could be different from how they are. Running across these six strands are concerns related to internationalisation, funding, and lifelong learning.
In the open economies of Flanders and the Netherlands it is self-evident that the graduates of higher education programmes have achieved the right competences for working in a international and multicultural environment. Programmes have the possibility to assess their internationalisation efforts by means of the distinctive (quality) feature internationalisation.
NVAO has therefore establised assessment frameworks for the distinctive (quality) feature internationalisation. These frameworks give programmes and institutions the opportunity to have the quality of their internationalisation assessed through an external peer review.
The frameworks were developed by NVAO in cooperation with various experts from the higher education community in Belgium and The Netherlands. The discussions and framework development was based on Hans de Wit's publication for NVAO: "Internationalisation of Higher Education in Europe and its assessment, trends and issues".
In 2010, the programme level framework was tested in a pilot round in which 12 HE institutions with 21 programmes from the Netherlands and Flanders participated. After the decision-making, the results were presented during a special NVAO seminar “Assessment of Internationalisation” which was held on 15 December 2010. During this seminar 18 Dutch and Flemish programmes have received NVAO's distinctive quality (feature) internationalisation. In addition to the distinctive quality (feature), ten programmes have received a certificate for ‘good’ quality in internationalisation.
The results of the experiences of the pilot are presented in the evaluation report: Assessment of Internationalisation - An evaluation of the NVAOs pilot procedures.
Good Practices in Internationalisation Platform (GPIP)
In 2012, NVAO started collecting good practices in internationalisation. These are presented on the Good Practices in Internationalisation Platform (GPIP). HE Institutions can use this website to review and share experiences with internationalisation.
In October 2012, the European Consortium for Accreditation in higher education (ECA) started a European Union-funded project: Certificate for Quality in Internationalisation (CeQuInt). This project lifts NVAO's experiences with assessing the quality of internationalisation to the European level.
This year‟s edition, held at Tallinn University in Estonia, focused on the theme „How does quality assurance make a difference?‟. Over three days, the majority of the plenary and parallel sessions discussed the impact of external and internal QA on higher education policies and institutional realities. While participants provided a wide range of evidence on this topic, many also called for more research to be carried out on the impact of QA. They also acknowledged, however, the challenges of delivering precise studies on this topic.
The sessions also explored new developments (in QA) such as the increased international dimension of external QA (e.g. cross-border accreditation and recognition of joint programmes). New approaches to quality assurance in various countries and institutions were also presented and participants were given an opportunity to update their knowledge on recent European policy developments.
One of the conclusions of the final plenary was that QA as a whole is a highly politicised field, and by no means an exact science, but perhaps this is part of its appeal to those involved in QA.
The discussions will continue in next year‟s EQAF, which will be hosted by the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, from 21 to 23 November 2013. More information on next year‟s event will be published through the EUA website.
CeQuInt will provide programmes and institutions insight into their level and quality of internationalisation and provide them, where necessary, with recommendations for improvements. The project currently develops an assessment framework that focuses on improvement and excellence, and which builds on NVAO's experience with the assessment of internationalisation.
The assessment framework (i.e. methodology) will be used to assess the quality of internationalisation at either the level of a programme or an institution. The framework and methodology will be tested in a series of twelve pilot procedures, of which four at institutional level and eight at programme level. The experts taking part in the assessment panels will be trained before these procedures start. The pilot procedures will be used to test and evaluate the developed assessment framework from the perspective of both the experts as well as the assessed programmes and institutions. The feedback and results will be used to amend and finalise the assessment methodology.
A positive assessment by an assessment panel will lead to the award by ECA of the Certificate for Quality in Internationalisation. This certificate confirms that a programme or institution has successfully included a significant international and/or intercultural dimension in the purpose, function and delivery of its education. The Certificate for Quality in Internationalisation is intended to lead to a substantial improvement in the transparency and level of internationalisation.
HE institutions will be kept informed about the progress of the project through a newsletter, stakeholder meetings, workshops, conferences and publications. In addition, a platform will be developed to share good practices in the field of internationalisation as identified by assessment panels.
Since the start of the project in October 2012, the project partners have given specific attention to the further definition of assessment methodology, the identification of candidates for the pilot procedures, the specific roles and profiles of experts in the assessment panels and the commencement of dissemination activities. The immediate agreed actions include a stronger involvement of experts from the professional field in the assessment panels, the introduction of a core group of experts that will take part in several pilot procedures and the reporting of national and international dissemination activities. You can find more information here.
The Seminar – themed Enhancing Exchangeability in Quality Assurance in the Islamic World’ – was attended by members of the QA-Islamic and representatives from the Egyptian universities. The seminar addressed the four subthemes: Regional Quality Framework, Mutual Confidence, Exchanges of Experts and Expertise and Rating vs. Ranking. The participants of the Seminar were updated with the current developments related to the subthemes in the member countries of the Association.
The Seminar was followed by the 2012 QA-Islamic Roundtable Meeting which discussed on the governance matters and strategic direction of QA-Islamic.
Internship Programme AQAAIW
The Association of Quality Assurance Agencies of the Islamic World (QA-Islamic) organized an Internship Programme for quality assurance officials of its member agencies from October 8 to 12, 2012. The programme was part of the Association‟s capacity building initiatives.
The five-day programme was hosted by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency in Kuala Lumpur in parallel with the ASEAN+3 Forum on Quality Assurance in Higher Education.
This programme was consciously designed so as to give the interns occasion to get connected with the Forum‟s participants from diverse countries and to benefit from the discussions that covered the fundamental principles of a quality framework.
Three officials from two QA-Islamic members, Azerbaijan and Indonesia took part in the programme and were joined by six other officials from Yemen and Namibia.
The NAQQAET now comprises of five units. A new unit called ”National Qualification Framework (NQF) Unit” was established along with the present four units (Schools Review Unit; National Examinations Unit; Vocational Review Unit; and Higher Education Review Unit). The NQF Unit will run the operations of the National Qualification Framework and establish communications with national and international bodies that are involved with Education and Training Frameworks.
It is foreseen that the NQF will further enhance the Authority‟s main objectives in improving the quality and performance of education and training sectors within the Kingdom. The NQF emphasizes the value of qualifications by mapping those qualifications on the framework according to a set of educational quality standards that are on par with global standards.
The consortium of the project includes ENQA (as applicant and coordinator), the Swiss Center of Accreditation and Quality Assurance in HE (OAQ), the Irish Universities Quality Board (IUQB), the Agency for Science and Higher Education (ASHE) and the Estonian Higher Education Quality Agency (EKKA).
The project will map the current publication practices, explore the different needs of stakeholders for transparent and comparable information, develop standards for different types of quality assurance reports in the EHEA and evaluate whether a European template for quality assurance reports is feasible.
The project will result in a recommendation to quality assurance agencies on the content and form of informative and approachable quality assurance reports. Thus the envisaged impact is a higher degree of comparability of quality assurance reports and consequently a better contribution of quality assurance to transparency of higher education at the European level.
The two-day program was officiated by the Honorable Minister of Higher Education Malaysia, Dato‟ Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin.
Professor Dr. Andrejs Rauhvargers, Secretary General of the Latvian Rectors‟ Conference and Chairman of the Bologna Follow Up Group delivered a keynote address on the theme of the forum. This was followed by four plenary sessions addressing the four subthemes of the forum: “Revisiting the Principles of Qualifications Framework System”, “Revisiting the Principles of External Quality Assurance Agency”, “Revisiting the Principles of External Quality Assurance Processes” and “Revisiting the Principles of Institutional Quality Assurance System”.
The forum also included a special session on the ASEAN-QA Project. It was continued with the 2012 AQAN Roundtable Meeting. Here you will find more information.
« A key element that we believe should be added to the work on how to effectively strengthen the social safety net and make more people feel happy with their lives is to promote lifelong learning. Improving and activating the system of lifelong education is needed not just to help people remain competitive and competent at the workplace but make their life more lively and meaningful.
Lifelong learning can be defined as self-motivated pursuit of knowledge and skills for either personal or professional reasons. Thus, it contributes to enhancing social inclusion, active citizenship and personal fulfillment beyond individual employability and competitiveness. Over the past decades, scientific and technological innovations have changed the public’s attitude toward learning, leading them to recognise that it is not confined to childhood or the classroom but goes on throughout life and in a diversity of circumstances. In terms of traditional brick and mortar schooling, Korea is one of the best-educated nations in the world. But it remains far lower than other major countries in the proportion of people who engage in self-directed learning throughout their lives.
According to a survey by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), nearly 40 per cent of Koreans aged 25-64 received university-level or higher education in 2009, compared to the OECD average of 30 per cent. But slightly over 30 per cent of Korean adults participated in various types of lifelong learning such as not-for-credit courses by universities, lessons at private institutes or community centres and online programmes in 2010. The ratio fell far short of the 2007 OECD average of 40.8 per cent. Source: Editorial Desk, The Korea Herald.
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