EUA : European University Association

EUA members outline future priorities for improving the quality of doctoral education

More than 270 EUA members and partners gathered at the University of Lausanne this week to agree on an agenda for improving the quality of doctoral programmes in Europe?s universities.

Rectors, heads of graduate, doctoral and research schools, networks involved in doctoral training, and policy makers were taking part in the inaugural meeting of the EUA Council for Doctoral Education (EUA-CDE) a new EUA membership service, which is dedicated to advancing doctoral education and research training in Europe.

Part of the conference discussions focused on outlining key priority areas to be addressed for advancing doctoral training in Europe. The following five themes emerged at the top of the list for European universities:

  • Improving the supervision of PhD candidates, particularly through better training and monitoring of supervisors themselves;
  • Enhancing institutional cooperation, notably through the development of joint doctoral programmes and double degrees;
  • Introducing new structures (such as doctoral schools) within institutions to manage doctoral education;
  • Better provision of skills training for doctoral candidates (particularly ?transferable? skills);
  • Enhancing quality and evaluation of PhD programmes.

These issues will therefore be at the top of the agenda of the EUA-CDE in the next two years. The goal of the EUA-CDE, is to provide a framework to help universities across Europe deal with the challenges they face in improving the quality of doctoral programmes and training opportunities of young researchers in Europe. It is also clear from the conference that universities will expect the EUA-CDE to play a key role in developing the global dimension of doctoral education, partnering and working with networks and organisations not only in Europe but worldwide.

Over the next two years, participants outlined a number of activities for the EUA-CDE that will be built into the organisation?s work programme. These include establishing better data collection, analysis and sharing in the sector of doctoral education; the organisation of thematic conferences and workshops to exchange best practice and networking; and the setting up of working groups/task forces to advance some of the key issues facing doctoral education.

EUA-CDE is pleased to announce that it will be organising a workshop focusing on ?Enhancing supervision:  Professional development and assessment of supervisors? that will take place at Imperial College London, UK in January 2009.

To find out more about the new EUA Council for Doctoral Education, please visit the EUA-CDE website. Presentations from the conference are also available online.

Responsible Partnering: Report outlines progress made and challenges facing R+D collaboration in Europe

A new report gives an important insight into the state of collaborative research, knowledge exchange and technology transfer among businesses, universities and research and technology organisations.

The Responsible Partnering publication - published jointly by EUA, the European Industrial Research Management Association (EIRMA), the European Association of Research and Technology Organisations (EARTO), and the Public Research Organisations Transfer Offices Network (ProTon Europe) - reveals that considerable progress in research collaboration has been made in recent years. As universities and other public research bodies develop the competencies to manage open innovation, the report notes the value of strategic long-term partnership and co-innovation based on trust and professionalism is widely recognised and more emphasis is being given to delivery and outcomes rather than philosophical issues.

The report is based on the findings of a recent conference on Responsible Partnering between research and business held in Portugal, which aimed to analyse trends in R + D collaboration since the launch of the Responsible Partnering Initiative by EUA, EIRMA, EARTO and ProTon Europe in 2004. Responsible Partnering is a voluntary code of conduct for enterprises and public research designed to maximise the benefits of collaborative research for all parties in a sustainable way.

The new report also notes, however, that there a number of barriers that need to be overcome to improve collaboration. These include harnessing untapped opportunities for partnership and exchange and ensuring that good practice processes in many organisations are fully implemented.

Stakeholders agreed the Responsible Partnering initiative was a sound basis for overcoming such barriers to research collaboration, providing it has sufficient visibility and adoption. The aim is now to revise the handbook guidelines so they include more human aspects, recognising the skills that make collaborations work well. The revised guidelines will also emphasise the importance of communication between partners on expectations and assumptions and methods of building trust. They will also look to turn check lists in to genuine assessment tools by formulating clear questions and statements and introducing criteria for being a responsible partner.

The report also includes a series of recommendations for different research actors, public authorities and partner associations.

Click here to read a full copy of the report.

Registration open for the Institutional Evaluation Programme

EUA is pleased to inform you that the registration period for the next round of the Institutional Evaluation Programme (IEP) is now open until 30 June 2008.

The Institutional Evaluation Programme is designed for universities interested in developing a strategic response to challenges they are currently facing and increasing their ability to anticipate, shape and respond to future challenges. The evaluation takes place over a whole academic year. The process includes a self-evaluation phase, two site-visits and a final evaluation report that includes specific recommendations.

For further information and registration form, please visit our website. By returning the registration form to Violeta Atanassova by 30 June 2008, you will ensure your invitation to a preparatory seminar for all participating institutions, which will be held in Brussels in October 2008. Any further questions about the IEP may be addressed to Violeta Atanassova.

EUA at NAFSA: Bologna global impacts increasingly understood

EUA last week organised several sessions on the major developments in European higher education at the NAFSA (Association of International Educators) Conference Shaping the Future of International Education.

While the main concern for many US participants remains trends in international student destinations and student mobility statistics, the interest expressed in better understanding the Bologna process and its global impact was notable. The number of sessions and workshops dealing with Bologna grew sizably from previous conferences and ranged in focus from double and joint PhD programmes to Bologna?s impact on transatlantic recruitment. EUA led sessions that presented the Trends V results, internationalisation of European higher education, and the open questions regarding Bologna after 2010. In addition, EUA presented its current work on a Master study project which is examining the state of developments in master programmes around Europe. Results from this study will be published in early 2009 after EUA conducts a series of site visits to contribute to the findings.

While in the past one of the main concerns for the US has been how to respond to applicants with a new Bologna first cycle degree that lasts three years (whereas the US bachelor is typically four years), interest in the Bologna process seemed to be evolving beyond simple questions of recognition.

Dr John Yopp of the University of Kentucky, an active contributor to transatlantic higher education dialogue and presenter at NAFSA, spoke positively particularly about the continued prospects for collaboration across regions. He said the Trends V findings indicated that (in Europe) there will be flexibility and diversity as well uniformity and rigorous degree structures. The greater the flexibility and diversity, with appropriate quality assurance, the greater the potential for collaboration because the US higher education degree structures also continue to evolve in response to the same driving forces for change.

This major event was attended by over 9,000 participants.

European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education gets new website

EUA is delighted to announce that the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR) has a new website providing detailed information for institutions, QA Agencies, students and governments.

The register was launched in March 2008 and marks a major milestone in the development of the European Higher Education Area. The register of trustworthy and reliable QA agencies has been developed by the ?E4 Group? - comprising EUA, the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA), the European Students Union (ESU), and the European Association of Institutions in Higher Education (EURASHE) ? under the mandate of Education Ministers from the 46 countries taking part in the Bologna process.

The key objectives of the EQAR are to improve the transparency of quality assurance across Europe?s diverse higher education landscape, and to enhance trust between higher education institutions across Europe. The register will improve transparency by providing a list of those credible agencies that adhere to the European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance adopted by European Education Ministers in 2005.

Equally, the register will build trust between HE institutions in Europe as the register will highlight institutions that have been reviewed by legitimate QA agencies, thereby facilitating collaboration between countries and also supporting student mobility.

Whilst most European countries already have quality assurance agencies of one sort or another, the EQAR should also allow higher education institutions to choose between agencies in different countries, if that is compatible with national arrangements.

EUA has played a key role from the outset in the creation of the Register, as it believes institutions have core responsibility for quality improvements in higher education. The register will be accepting applications later this summer and information will be publicly accessible through a web-based tool.

Please click here to visit the new EQAR website.