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Access issues in European higher education Techno TN 2004 Brussels 13 February 2004 David Crosier European Universities Association (EUA)

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Presentation on theme: "Access issues in European higher education Techno TN 2004 Brussels 13 February 2004 David Crosier European Universities Association (EUA)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Access issues in European higher education Techno TN 2004 Brussels 13 February 2004 David Crosier European Universities Association (EUA)

2 …2… EUA basics Representative association of universities in Europe Members = individual universities and national rectors conferences c700 members in 45 countries Mission: to promote the development of a coherent system of European higher education and research Strengthening the role of universities in EHEA and ERA: policy, projects and other membership services

3 …3… Bologna Process Now 40 countries – including SEE and Russia Convergence towards European Higher Education Area by 2010 (now half way) Progress to date? Trends III (www.eua.be): many legislative & structural reforms, but: - Are they really all convergent, or do different cultural situations and developments countries create new forms of diversity? - Is the reality perceived by institutions, academics and students different to the picture from ministries? - Impact of non-Bologna agendas (financing - fees etc) - Are we sufficiently attentive to social dimension?

4 …4… European University 2004 New & sometimes contradictory demands: -broaden access, increase participation but cut costs / charge fees -concentrate research / maintain diversity -be more local, more regional, more European, more international -increase mobility within Europe / attract more students and scholars from outside Europe -improve academic quality / be responsive to industry/business providing employability skills -provide compatible curricula across Europe/ maintain diversity & be more learner-centred -be more autonomous / conform to framework -be more competetive/be more socially inclusive

5 …5… EUA Response: The Graz Declaration 2010 and beyond – the European university Universities as a public responsibility Building strong institutions Research as an integral part of HE Quality Assurance – a policy framework for Europe Pushing forward the Bologna Process Social dimension

6 …6… Social Dimension Access & equality identified as core values European-level policy exemplified by objectives of Council of Europe Recommendation on Access to higher education All who are able and willing to participate successfully in higher education should have fair and equal opportunities to do so Efforts to maintain and raise the quality of higher education systems should include the criterion of effective access offered to all groups in society as well as that of excellence in teaching and research Appropriate monitoring measures should be developed to measure the process of change

7 …7… Equal opportunities in Europe? Important socio-economic/historical/cultural differences between countries: different dimensions of access issues within them Recognise limits of potential impact of higher education institutions: -cant solve all societal problems Higher education does have responsibility to society: Tension -traditional role in reproduction of societal values vs role in transformation and innovation -reflecting social values & attitudes vs challenging/developing values and attitudes

8 …8… What do we know? (from CoE project) Council of Europe Access project – studies provide picture of reality in mid-nineties: need for follow-up Higher education policy objectives often set without taking account of under-represented groups Monitoring of participation, retention, completion, and employment very patchy across countries and institutions: different systems, little reference to practice in other countries Lack of Europe-wide research into patterns of under- representation Rhetoric more advanced than policy and action European Access Network – active in collecting and disseminating research at national/institutional level across Europe ESIB – promoting access policies, Handbook on access issues

9 …9… What do we know? 2 Some common features and issues Notions of access and equal opportunities commonly misunderstood Equal opportunities (mis)conceived as absence of discrimination (de jure condition): Equal conditions confused with equal opportunities -Equal conditions dont have equal effects (eg tuition fees have different impact depending on financial means) Effective equal opportunities policy means: -Objective is to enable all individuals to develop and fulfil potential -Learner-centred = taking account of diverse learner needs Equal opportunities policies therefore require finding out about needs, and responding with positive action

10 …10… Issues of under-representation in European higher education: gender General trend = increase in female participation in higher education diversity across disciplines: 1st level studies - issues re female participation in sciences, male participation in nursing, humanities, teacher training, Gender pyramid – third-level studies (PhD) and post-doctorate – dramatic fall in female participation Institution staff structures: male-dominated hierarchy (female rectors in EUA members can be counted on one hand) Central and Eastern Europe: negative shifts in gender policies post 1990: less priority to students with children, provision of support Particular problems in some societies: eg Albania/Kosovo – negative attitudes to education

11 …11… Issues of under-representation in European higher education: Ethnic Minorities Very diverse situations: different definitions and understanding of minority groups different methods for identifying groups (self-classification vs outside classification) different issues for different immigrant communities, 1st and 2nd generation, minority populations in Central and Eastern Europe Strong general tendency not to face issues - perceived as too sensitive National realities misunderstood (differences in achievement of students from different groups), and problems not identified & addressed Central and Eastern Europe: languages & ethnicity major issue in higher education (rights to higher education in minority languages? Eg Macedonia/Romania/Baltic states)

12 …12… Issues of under-representation in European higher education: Students with disabilities Social construction of disability: lack of awareness/provision for needs, rather than lack of ability through physical condition psychological barriers often more significant than physical Exclusion through medical definition Wide variety of needs – best known & understood by those who have them. Institutions need to inclusive structures to be able to respond adequately

13 …13… Issues of under-representation in European higher education: Socio-economic disadvantage Cross-cutting – gender, ethnicity and disability + parental participation in higher education (strongest predictor for access) Policies so far have not worked Mass higher education – increased numbers, but generally among middle classes Funding policies crucial – how to target resources fairly where there is greatest financial need?

14 …14… Other Issues: admission systems Systems of more open access vs systems of more selection Open access: respects right to higher education, but if high failure, dropout, and no support to student needs... Selection: on what basis? Recognising potential, or rewarding achievement/previous advantage?

15 …15… Other issues: monitoring Institutional monitoring of participation essential if progress is to be measured Integral aspect of policy for equal opportunities Should include all aspects of institution (staff as well as students) Data need to be relevant & not excessive

16 …16… Other issues: guidance and counselling Opening up admission is necessary but not sufficient Institutions need to feel responsible for student experience and success Responsive guidance and counselling systems essential for all students, but non-traditional students may have specific needs

17 …17… Conclusions European consensus that expanding higher education is important, and that both individuals and society benefit No agreement on how to fund expansion (UK, France, Germany, Ireland etc) Danger of geographic exclusion East-West & North-South Danger of under-represented groups remaining excluded Coherence & long-term joined up thinking in policy making rests a major challenge Higher education institutions cannot afford to be passive

18 …18… Some Modest proposals Provide more central attention to « social dimension » of Bologna Process Find out what governments/institutions have done with Council of Europe recommendation on access Undertake more research into issues of under- representation/disadvantage at European level Explore relationship between Quality and Equality Look at how good practice in Europe can be -identified -shared


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