Month: November 2017

EU to prioritise deeper HE cooperation and mobility

Source:  University World News 

European leaders and the European Commission have backed proposals to step up higher education mobility and exchanges and create a network of European universities with integrated study programmes and curricula that enable students to study abroad.

The plans signal a new era in which education and culture will be put high on the European Union’s agenda after years of being a low priority, according to the European University Association.

European heads of state or government, meeting at an informal summit at Gothenburg in Sweden on 17 November, supported the measures to deepen higher education cooperation and agreed to:


  • Promote mutual recognition of upper secondary education diplomas and the development of new curricula allowing for exchanges across European high school systems.
  • Promote multilingualism by aiming at all students speaking at least two additional European languages.
  • Launch a reflection on the ‘Future of Learning’ to respond to future trends and the digital revolution, including artificial intelligence.
  • Promote the mobility and participation of students in cultural activities through a ‘European Student Card’.

They had met to discuss the social dimension of Europe, including education and culture and responses to the challenges of digitalisation, future skills demands and the rise of ‘fake’ news, xenophobia and extremism.

That the discussion of education and culture was the first debate under the European Leaders’ Agenda signalled that education and culture are being given a higher priority than in the past.

Following the meeting, European Council President Donald Tusk said they had constructive discussion about eight ideas, which “were suggested not by Brussels, not by the institutions, but by member states”.

“One example is to make the Erasmus programme more inclusive, so that an increasing number of Europeans benefit from getting to know each other’s cultures, while living and studying in another EU country.

“The second example is the European Student Card, which started out as a cooperation between France and Italy. It was later expanded to cover Germany and Ireland. Now the idea is to extend the geographical scope of this initiative and to offer cardholders access to cultural sites and activities across Europe.”

Tusk said that during the meeting “we established political support for these ideas” and “will make sure that this support is included in the conclusions of the European Council”. The financial aspect of the plans will have to be reflected in the next multi-annual budget discussion.

…Continue at University World News 



Interesting article about the concept of algorithmic governance


Whether we like it or not, algorithms are increasingly being used to nudge, bias, guide, provoke, control, manipulate and constrain human behaviour. Sometimes this is beneficial; sometimes benign; sometimes problematic (Danaher, 2016Pasquale, 2015Zarsky, 2016). To ensure that it is more the former than the latter, an algorithmic governance system ought to be designed and implemented in a way that ensures both its effectiveness and its legitimacy (Peter, 2017). That is to say, we should ensure that it is an effective means for achieving some policy goal, whilst remaining procedurally fair, open and unbiased. But how can we ensure that algorithmic governance systems are both?

Abstract:  We are living in an algorithmic age where mathematics and computer science are coming together in powerful new ways to influence, shape and guide our behaviour and the governance of our societies. As these algorithmic governance structures proliferate, it is vital that we ensure their effectiveness and legitimacy. That is, we need to ensure that they are an effective means for achieving a legitimate policy goal that are also procedurally fair, open and unbiased. But how can we ensure that algorithmic governance structures are both? This article shares the results of a collective intelligence workshop that addressed exactly this question. The workshop brought together a multidisciplinary group of scholars to consider (a) barriers to legitimate and effective algorithmic governance and (b) the research methods needed to address the nature and impact of specific barriers. An interactive management workshop technique was used to harness the collective intelligence of this multidisciplinary group. This method enabled participants to produce a framework and research agenda for those who are concerned about algorithmic governance. We outline this research agenda below, providing a detailed map of key research themes, questions and methods that our workshop felt ought to be pursued. This builds upon existing work on research agendas for critical algorithm studies in a unique way through the method of collective intelligence.

Get the full paper at

A Connected Curriculum for Higher Education – HEPI

Source: Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI)

A recent international conference at University College London (UCL) explored international perspectives on creating a more ‘connected’ higher education sector. More than 300 delegates from 18 countries shared research and practices relating to breaking down the divisions, including those between research and student education, between students, researchers and professionals, and between students and local and wider communities.

Why this renewed emphasis on building such bridges?

As I argued at the conference, higher education already makes a tremendous impact for good across the world. As Universities UK claims, the sector drives productivity and growth, attracts talent from across the globe, and equips people with skills to succeed. The extraordinary range of high quality research carried out by the sector changes the world, and universities can transform people’s lives. But recent political events in the UK, in the US and beyond have shone a critical light on the gap between the languages, practices and even values of higher education and those of the societies in which they are situated. It’s time to look again at what we are doing, at how we’re articulating our multiple missions and, especially, how we are engaging in authentic partnerships with local and wider communities with respect to both research and education.

Introducing a Connected Curriculum

My work on Connected Curriculum offers a practical set of steps for changing the ways in which we design and enhance university curricula. Drawing on philosophical roots, my newly published open access book, A Connected Curriculum for Higher Education, proposes a fresh way of framing what we do. At its core, it emphasises the need for students to learn through research and critical enquiry, engaging actively with complex global challenges, but the framing introduces six key dimensions to support this goal. The book incorporates a series of vignettes of practice from institutions around the world, which illustrate a range of ways in which the underpinning principles can be put into practice.

In the book I argue that we need to create much stronger connections between students and researchers. How can students, at all levels of the curriculum, really benefit from studying in an environment where research takes place, and where researchers really are pushing on the edges of what we think we know? Practical steps adopted by a number of departments at UCL have included a ‘Meet The Researcher’ induction activity, in which students in small groups investigate the work of one of the department’s researchers, meet them to discuss it, then produce an ‘output’ (whether online or face to face) that communicates aspects of that body of work to a lay audience. This has proved extremely popular with both researchers and students, and offers just one way of beginning to break down the research-education gap.

A connected ‘throughline’

The Connected Curriculum framework emphasises the importance of creating a connected ‘throughline’, which anchors the narrative of the degree programme while empowering students to steadily build their skills and confidence and equipping them to make useful links across disciplines.  This throughline can also act as a locus for challenging students to make and articulate connections between their academic learning and learning needed for the workplace.  It can also explicitly challenge students to make connections across disciplines. An example of this is seen in UCL’s innovative Bachelor of Arts and Sciences (BASc) degree, in which students study across disciplines and are challenged in core modules to make explicit connections between them.

Key to the Connected Curriculum framework is changing the characteristics of student assessments, so that some assessment tasks at each level of study require students to produce ‘outputs’ for a specified, real world audience. Ideally, this includes opportunities for working in partnership with audiences drawn from wider societal groups – for example, local charities, high schools, online interest groups, policy makers, employers’ groups – to investigate a topic of mutual interest, for shared benefit. A radical proposal in the book is to move away from so much reliance on a modular system and towards programme-level Showcase Portfolios, which are curated by students and show the best of what they have done on the whole degree, including the work that is designed explicitly to be outward-facing.

At UCL we’re drawing on the Connected Curriculum framework, with its underpinning philosophy of empowering students to engage with the edge of knowledge, as a key part of our Education Strategy. The international conference in June showed that there is huge interest globally in re-framing what the sector is doing, within and across disciplines. We live in challenging times, but they are full of possibilities for universities to make even more of a difference.

German Scientists Resign from Elsevier Journals’ Editorial Boards | The Scientist Magazine®


These researchers join around 200 research institutions that have cut ties with the publishing giant to support the ongoing push for open access and favorable pricing.

Source: German Scientists Resign from Elsevier Journals’ Editorial Boards | The Scientist Magazine®

Eight German researchers have announced their resignation from the editorial and advisory boards of a handful of Elsevier’s journals since last Thursday (October 12) to show support for German research institutions as they attempt to establish a new, nationwide licensing agreement with the Dutch publishing giant.

“It’s a symbolic gesture—obviously, scientists could be replaced on editorial boards,” says Wolfgang Marquardt, an engineer and the chairman of the Jülich Research Center in Germany. Marquardt is stepping down from the editorial boards of three Elsevier journals—Computers and Chemical EngineeringCurrent Opinion in Chemical Engineering, and Chemical Engineering Science. “I think it’s important to show that the science community is not happy with the way the negotiations went.”

Others who have stepped down include Marino Zerial of the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Jörg Raisch at the Technical University of Berlin, and Anton Möslang of the Karhlsrule Institute of Technology.

This is the latest development in the ongoing fight for favorable pricing and open access by the DEAL project, an alliance of German institutions led by the German Rectors’ Conference. DEAL is pushing for publishers to adopt a “publish and read model,” where one combined fee would include access to all of Elsevier’s journals and “golden open access,” which would allow all papers with German first authors to be freely accessible to readers around the world.

According to Horst Hippler, the president of the German Rectors’ Conference and the spokesperson for DEAL, more scientists are expected to resign from their positions on the editorial boards of Elsevier journals.

“Elsevier respects the decisions of the editors to consider stepping down if an agreement with [German Rectors’ Conference] isn’t reached,” Harald Boersma, Elsevier’s corporate relations director, writes in an email to The Scientist. “We remain dedicated to achieving a successful outcome of these negotiations. This requires constructive dialogue and collaboration.”

…Continue at TheScientist: