Universities face funding pressure right across Europe @University World News

(By Brendan O’Malley)

In at least 20 out of 24 European countries, funding for higher education has either been cut or has not kept pace with increases in student numbers, according to new data published by the 2016 Public Funding Observatory.

The data, released at the European University Association’s funding forum in Porto, Portugal, reveals, for example, that although public funding to universities has increased in 11 countries between 2008 and 2015, rising enrolment meant that funding per student fell in seven of these.

Meanwhile, public funding has fallen in 13 systems; and in seven of these, student numbers have been growing.

This indicates that “almost all systems in Europe are under pressure”, the European University Association or EUA says. The exceptions are Norway and Sweden.

(Read more at University World News)

Can online higher education replace traditional college? (The Washington Post)

For much of their modern existance, distance-education courses have suffered from an image problem.

In the 1970s and 1980s, they were seen as cheap knockoffs of on-campus offerings, hawked on late-night television by the likes of Sally Struthers, who asked viewers, “Do you want to make more money? Sure, we all do,” in commercials for the International Correspondence School.

In the late 1990s, the introduction of online learning coincided with the expansion of for-profit providers, such as the University of Phoenix and Corinthian Colleges. The two trends were often conflated in the media, and the quality concerns that frequently dogged the for-profit industry rubbed off on online programs.

Columbia University tried to change public perception in 2000, when it started a high-profile, $25 million online learning portal called Fathom, which aggregated content from other top-ranked institutions. It was an idea ahead of its time, by a decade. The site went dark in 2003, after failing to turn a profit. By 2011, in a survey by the Pew Research Center, just 29 percent of American adults said that online courses offered equal value to learning in traditional classrooms.

But then the negative headwinds facing online education began to shift, and quickly. The big reason? Name-brand and elite universities suddenly became interested in digital learning.

(read more @ The Washington Post)

‘Free’ higher education: unrealistic expectations, unsustainable solutions (Damtew Teferra @ TheConversation)

Free higher education is a myth. There is no such thing anywhere in the world, even in wealthy states like Germany, Finland, Norway and Sweden, which insist that their tertiary education systems are “free”. In fact, higher education in those countries is predominantly paid for by taxpayers. They can afford it. They are rich, socially and economically equitable societies.

Higher education is a resource intensive enterprise. It cannot effectively function without a massive injection of resources in a sustained and escalated way.  (read more @ TheConversation)

Com a Copenhaguen? (Andreu Mas-Colell)

(Publicat originalment al diari Ara el 17 de setembre de 2016)

S’acaba d’inaugurar el curs universitari. És una bona ocasió per reflexionar sobre la universitat. Podríem parlar de la necessitat de més recursos, de la política de tarificació social aplicada a l’àmbit universitari públic com una bona solució per garantir-hi l’accés, de la política de professorat, de les noves tendències en l’estructura de les aules i en la dinàmica de la docència, de la conveniència dels graus oberts, de la internacionalització. El tema d’avui, però, el motiva un anunci en l’edició de Nature de l’1 de setembre. Em va sorprendre: es tracta d’una convocatòria internacional per a rector de la Universitat de Copenhagen.

I és que les nostres universitats, per millorar (sempre cal millorar!), necessiten bàsicament dues coses: més diners i una governança moderna. El problema amb el primer requisit (més diners) és que, valgui la no paradoxa, disposar de més diners val més diners. Però modernitzar la governança no costa res. Analitzem-ho, doncs. Continue reading “Com a Copenhaguen? (Andreu Mas-Colell)”

Nordic higher education in decline? (@ Times Higher Education)

The region’s reputation for excellence could be threatened by funding cuts and restructuring

Whenever people talk about excellence in education, the Nordic countries are rarely far from their lips. High levels of funding and an egalitarian ethos are popularly believed to have created a utopian system that turns out academically exceptional students despite putting as much emphasis on extra-curricular activities as on book-learning.

But as cuts and shake-ups unfold across the region, some suggest that a harassed university leader would make a good protagonist for the next bleak Nordic noir television drama series.

Read more: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/features/is-nordic-higher-education-in-decline

US, Asia rise as Europe falters in university ranking – University World News

United States universities took 11 of the top 20 places in the latest edition of the QS World University Rankings published last week, and held all top three places for the first time since 2004-5.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology or MIT came top for the fifth year running. Stanford and Harvard universities came second and third, and 26 of the US’s 32 universities in the top 100 either held their position or moved up, further cementing US domination.

In the top 20, the UK took five places, and Switzerland and Singapore took two places each, but no university moved more than two places.

Read more: US, Asia rise as Europe falters in university ranking – University World News

La necessitat urgent de reformar el govern de les universitats

(Article publicat al Blog de la Revista catalana de dret públic el 16 de juny de 2014. (llicència CC BY 3.0 atribució: Albert Lladó)


Ja fa temps que es pot afirmar que hi ha un acord unànime sobre la necessitat d’una reforma profunda del nostre sistema universitari, i en aquest sentit s’han manifestat de forma pública i reiterada tots els àmbits implicats. Sense voler ser exhaustiu, s’han proposat models de reforma des del Govern de l’Estat, amb l’informe encarregat pel Ministeri d’Educació a una Comisión de Expertos para la Reforma del Sistema Universitario Español, publicat el febrer de 2013; des del Govern de la Generalitat i encarregat per la Secretaria d’Universitats i Recerca, amb l’informe de la Ponència per a l’estudi de la governança del sistema universitari de Catalunya, presentat l’abril de 2013, o també des de les pròpies universitats públiques catalanes, amb el Llibre Blanc de la Universitat de Catalunya, el juny de 2008, en què els rectors catalans proposen les bases per a una «reforma profunda de les universitats a Europa».

Per descomptat, també s’han elaborat multitud d’informes i publicacions sobre el tema des d’entitats i fundacions privades d’orientacions ideològiques diverses. Al mateix temps, són pocs els països de l’entorn europeu que no han dut a terme una remodelació de les seves estructures universitàries, adequant-les al marc de convergència que es perfila des de la Unió Europea, al fil del procés de Bolonya, concretat especialment en l’Agenda Europea per a la Modernització de l’Educació Superior (AEMES). Continue reading “La necessitat urgent de reformar el govern de les universitats”