EUA : European University Association

New EUA project: Call for applications

EUA, together with its partners ACQUIN, the Higher Education Academy and the National University of Ireland, Maynooth is launching a new project - Quality Assurance for the Higher Education Change Agenda (QAHECA).

The consortium is inviting higher education institutions (HEI) and quality assurance agencies from across Europe to apply for participation in the project – which is supported by the European Commission in the framework of the Lifelong Learning Programme. A total of 30 institutions and agencies will be selected to take part.

The project offers participants the opportunity for active involvement in the pilot project, which is dedicated to developing and testing institutional quality mechanisms for teaching and learning. Taking the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area as its starting point, the new project seeks to formulate a methodology which is geared towards enhancement and will strengthen creativity and innovation in higher education.

The goal is to explore what kind of institutional quality processes for teaching and learning, both internal and external, will support creative and innovative higher education institutions and limit the potentially problematic effects of these processes. QAHECA seeks to develop operational recommendations for a formative quality methodology which provides the necessary space for originality while at the same time observing the requirements for institutional steering mechanisms and accountability.  

Participants will be invited to take part in a series of three seminars. The first two seminars will be dedicated to developing a draft quality methodology through a variety of activities (review of case studies, analysis of the strengths and drawbacks of existing quality mechanisms etc.). Then each HEI and agency will be invited to review and test the draft methodology within their own context and design an implementation plan. The third seminar will then be dedicated to jointly analysing participants’ preliminary experience with the draft methodology and their implementation plans as well as formulating recommendations for the project report. 

Click here for more information on the call and the selection process. Higher education institutions and quality assurance agencies interested in participating are invited to fill in the application and email it to Harald Scheuthle before or on 14 December 2007. For questions on the project, please also contact Harald Scheuthle.

EUA Events in Asia

In September, EUA organised its first ever event in Asia. Professor Jim Browne (National University of Ireland, Galway) gives his feedback on the EUA study trip to South East Asia and the Asia Europe Colloquium:

“The visit provided an excellent opportunity to visit two important Asian universities, the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and the UKM in Kuala Lumpur. Both universities are highly regarded research intensive universities and I appreciated the opportunity to view their facilities but perhaps more importantly to speak formally and indeed informally to members of their senior management team and to senior academics.

I found the discussions to be open and engaging. Information was shared in a way which facilitated some informal benchmarking of my own institution and indeed European universities in general. The discussions on funding models, university autonomy, research funding and sustainability, student fees, the issues of the integration of teaching and research including the mechanism for cooperation between well funded research centres and traditional academic departments were both interesting and informative. It is clear that the problems of university leadership and management are universal.

I believe that the fact that I was part of an EUA delegation was critical to the success of the visit. My feeling is that there was more open and a more direct exchange of views than one might get in a bilateral visit. The discussion of course was also all the richer for the presence of a number of university leaders from a variety of environments around the table.”

EUA President outlines universities’ vision for the future of Science and Technology in Europe

EUA President, Professor Georg Winckler, gave a keynote presentation at last week’s high-level conference in Lisbon on the ‘Future of Science and Technology in Europe’.

Organised by the European Commission and the Portuguese Presidency, the conference brought together key actors and stakeholders to discuss a broad range of issues at the centre of the debate on future research policy developments in the EU. One of the central issues on the agenda was the recent Commission Green Paper entitled "The European Research Area (ERA): New Perspectives".

Professor Winckler presented the European universities’ viewpoint in the conference concluding session on ‘A vision for the future of science & technology in Europe'. He stressed that one of the key elements for a successful vision was that modern and open universities should be recognised as key stakeholders. Universities should be open to collaboration with external partners, regionally and internationally, he explained, underlining their readiness to help improve knowledge transfer. Equally, he emphasised the importance of institutional autonomy in the management of universities’ research mission, adding that it was crucial to avoid micromanagement by governments.

The meeting offered the opportunity for EUA to highlight its response to the ERA Green Paper, on particular issues of concern (and where urgent action is required) such as funding, and the attractiveness of research careers. Professor Winckler also stressed that universities should be involved in shaping the policy dialogue concerning the structural funds for science and technology purposes and creating greater synergy across European and national RTD policies and funding.

The Commission will use the results of the ERA debate and consultation to launch a series of initiatives in 2008.

The EUA President also participated in a separate round table on the theme ‘Universities and science & technology development - regional and international dimensions’.

EUA Workshop on Doctoral Education

More than 60 participants from universities, funding organisations, ministries and other institutions from 20 European countries took part in EUA's workshop on "Doctoral Programmes in Europe: Access, Recruitment and Admission".

The workshop, held in Brussels on the 11 - 12 October 2007, started a new series of EUA events related to doctoral education. The main issues addressed in the plenary and working sessions related to improving access to doctoral programmes by examining current conditions and practice: how do universities attract and select doctoral candidates both nationally and internationally? What types of legal and institutional regulations are in place? Who is responsible for setting entry requirements to doctoral programmes and how transparent are admission processes?

Case study presentations will soon be available on the EUA website. A workshop report will also be prepared as a conclusion of all presentations, discussions and written contributions of the participants.    

Supporting Higher Education development in Mitrovica

This week, EUA joined the OSCE, European Commission, the Council of Europe, the Stability Pact, the European Students Union and SPARK, for two days of discussions with the University of Mitrovica.

The organisations met the university's Rector and Vice Rector in Brussels to look at the challenges for higher education in Kosovo, and the university’s strategic development plans. The specific purpose of the meeting was to examine the needs of the university, and the possibilities to provide international support to ensure that the political uncertainty regarding the status of Kosovo does not continue to set back the opportunities for the university to contribute to the development of the Mitrovica region. Rector Vitosevic stressed:

"We have suffered from academic isolation in Mitrovica, and we still face an uncertain political future. But our responsibility as a university is to provide all our students good quality education that is recognised everywhere. We also want to ensure that our students have the opportunities to broaden their horizons, for example through mobility periods at other universities that are taken for granted elsewhere in Europe, but unknown to us. The Bologna process provides a framework for all European universities, including ours, to pursue our cooperation and strategic development. These talks have given us a chance to explain some of the challenges we face, and I am confident that some doors will be opened to us as a result.”  

Interview with Helena Nazaré, new Chair of the EUA Institutional Evaluation Programme

Helena Nazaré (Rector, University of Aveiro, Portugal) has started her four-year term as chair of the Institutional Evaluation Programme (IEP).

She is succeeding Henrik Toft Jensen (Roskilde University) who chaired the IEP for the past seven years.

What are your priorities for your term as chair?

During his term as IEP chair, Professor Henrik Toft Jensen was instrumental in strengthening both the visibility and the quality of the IEP. I look forward to continuing his invaluable work and to ensuring that the IEP maintains the right balance between delivering a professional service to the institutions and preserving the positive atmosphere of friendship and commitment that prevails in the IEP evaluation pool. This means that – as has been the tradition so far – we will continue to discuss with the pool and in the Steering Committee how we can develop the IEP internal quality mechanisms further.

Second, since 2001, the IEP has conducted national or regional evaluations every year. The previous Steering Committee was very attentive to the methodology, philosophy and procedures of these evaluations and monitored them continuously. Clearly, the central priority of developing a knowledge society means that national and regional evaluations will continue to attract interest. Therefore, we will need to consider if the guidelines for this type of exercise need to be developed further. It may be time to undertake a study similar to the one that Stefanie Hofmann carried out a few years ago in which she analysed and synthesised lessons learned from the first set of sixty institutional evaluations.

Third, in 2006-07 the IEP started a two-year pilot that saw the participation of students on six evaluation teams. This was a very successful experiment, which has been extended this year. Following an evaluation, which I hope will be positive, we will need to decide whether and how to integrate students on all teams, tease out the administrative implications and change our promotional material.

Last but not least, the IEP is located in EUA. This is of great value because it ensures that the pool is updated constantly on international and European trends in higher education and research and that its understanding of higher education evolves with the time. Although the Programme operates in total independence in terms of its organisation and the evaluations proper, the EUA Board is naturally interested in its strategic development. The Board raised two issues in relation to the IEP: its international positioning and the opportunity to develop consultancy services linked to it. I look forward to discussing these issues with them.

In the short term, what do you see as the most important activity for the IEP in the coming year?

It is important for the IEP to externally assure its quality. Therefore, we have asked ENQA to organise the IEP review based on Terms of Reference adopted by the IEP Steering Committee. This review is important in order to maintain IEP membership in ENQA. As one of ENQA’s founding members and a supporter of its development, I believe that the IEP continued involvement in ENQA is important on two counts. It permits IEP to keep abreast of developments in the field and to network with other professional organisations. It is also important for ENQA to include a range of QA organisations that conduct evaluations with different objectives and different philosophies. The diversity of approaches can only be enriching to all ENQA members.

You have chaired your first Steering Committee meeting recently. What was the first decision you took as a Chair?

I am pleased that the IEP will continue its evaluations in Portugal this year but, because I am Portuguese, I have asked Tove Bull (University of Tromso) to serve as Vice Chair. She will serve as my deputy and take full responsibilities for the evaluations in Portugal in order to ensure the independence and confidentiality of the evaluations.