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Trends in Higher Education around the world – Perspectives and OECD responses Barbara Ischinger Director for Education OECD, Paris Outline 1. Context 2. Policy trends 3. Regional development 4. Assessing learning outcomes 1. The context: key trends Growth

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trends in higher education around the world perspectives and oecd responses

Trends in Higher Education around the world – Perspectives and OECD responses

Barbara Ischinger

Director for Education

OECD, Paris

  • 1. Context
  • 2. Policy trends
  • 3. Regional development
  • 4. Assessing learning outcomes
1 the context key trends
1. The context: key trends
  • Growth

Tertiary education is growing… but in some places much faster than others

Pressure on budgets

TEKS, 2008 Fig. 2.3

1 the context key trends4
1. The context: key trends
  • Diversification of provision

Growth of vocationally-oriented HEIs

Growth of private provision in some countries

  • More heterogenous student bodies

Rising participation by female and mature students

More heterogenoussocio-economic backgrounds than in the past

  • New governance arrangements

Growingautonomy… coupledwithgreateraccountabilityrequirements

Development of quality assurance systems

  • New funding arrangements

Diversification of sources (cost-sharing)

Increasing focus on accountability and performance


2. Trends in tertiary (post-secondary) education policy:

    • Quality
    • Equity
    • Internationalisation
    • Drawn from a 24-country review conducted between 2005 and 2008

Policy directions

  • Assuring and Improving Quality (1)
  • Build consensus on clear goals and expectations of the QA system
    • Expectations from QA aligned to overall tertiary education strategy
    • Reconcile different perceptions of quality to build national commitment to QA
    • Distinguish accountability and improvement to build consensus
  • Ensure that QA serves both improvement and accountability purposes
    • Find the right balance between them
    • Revisit this balance periodically  move to audit once baseline standards are met
  • Combine internal and external quality assurance mechanisms
    • Most effective to address the different purposes of QA
    • Specific mechanisms according to traditions and stage of QA development
  • Build capacity and secure legitimacy
    • QA agency: independent from Ministry, trust of TEIs
    • Involve academic community in external teams
  • Align QA processes to the particular profile of institutions
    • E.g. more focus on LM relevance in tertiary vocational institutions

Source: Tertiary Education for the Knowledge Society (OECD, 2008)


Policy directions

  • Assuring and Improving Quality (2)
  • Make stakeholders visible in the evaluation procedures
    • Students and employers in external teams, graduate surveys
    • To build legitimacy
  • Increase focus on student outcomes
    • Shift focus from inputs to learning and labour market outcomes
    • Develop and publish indicators of teaching quality, cognitive outcomes
    • NQFs, LM indicators, graduate perspectives in QA
  • Enhance the international comparability of the QA framework
    • Convergence and mutual recognition of national QA systems, international guidelines
    • Involve international experts, publish results in English
  • Put more stress on internal QA mechanisms
    • Less costly and more effective than periodic and comprehensive external reviews
    • Role of QA agency: technical assistance, promote dialogue and best-practice
  • Avoid direct links between results and public funding decisions
    • Prefer ex-ante links with funding (e.g. to be eligible for funding) to ex-post links
    • Limit financial rewards to better assist low-performing institutions

Source: Tertiary Education for the Knowledge Society (OECD, 2008)


Policy directions

Achieving Equity (1)

Assess extent and origin of equity issues:

Systematic collection of data.

Making tertiary education more equitable requires policy to intervene much earlier

 Career guidance and counselling services at the school level are instrumental in improving equity of access

 Provide opportunities for tertiary education study from any track in upper secondary school

 Strengthen the integration of planning, policy and analysis between secondary and tertiary education systems

 Diversify the supply of tertiary education to accommodate a more diverse set of learners

Source: Tertiary Education for the Knowledge Society (OECD, 2008)


Policy directions

Achieving Equity (2)

Improve the access to tertiary education in remote areas by expanding distance learning and regional learning centres

Diversify criteria for admission and give a say to institutions in entrance procedures

Consider positive discrimination policies for particular groups whose prior educational disadvantage is well identified

Improve transfers between different types of institutions within tertiary education

Provide incentives for tertiary education institutions to widen participation and provide extra support for students from disadvantaged backgrounds

Special financial incentive for inst. to attract less represented groups; positive discrimination; studies progression support (e.g. tutoring services); adapting the learning environment to account for the diversity of the student body.

Source: Tertiary Education for the Knowledge Society (OECD, 2008)


Policy directions

  • Shaping internationalisation in the national context (1)
  • Develop a national strategy and comprehensive policy framework for internationalisation
    • Build on country-specific advantages/constraints  resist replication
  • Improve national policy coordination
    • Inter-governmental committee to maximise synergies among policies
    •  Immigration, S&T, Labour, Foreign Affairs
  • Encourage institutions to become proactive actors of internationalisation
    • Framework conditions to make TEIs more responsive to internat. envt
    •  int° strategy in annual negotiations, remove blockages, incentives
  • Promote sustainable strategies of internationalisation
    • Diversify activities, partners, distribution of internat. students within system
  • Create structures to assist TEIs in their internationalisation strategies
  • Develop on-campus internationalisation
    • From equity perspective, efforts should focus on internat° on campus
    • E.g. revisit HR & pensions policy to ease recruitment of foreign academics

Source: Tertiary Education for the Knowledge Society (OECD, 2008)


Policy directions

  • Shaping internationalisation in the national context (2)
  • Create structures to promote the national tertiary education system
    • E.g. ‘marketing’ agency, capitalise on diplomatic missions abroad
  • Enhance the international comparability of tertiary education
    • E.g. Bologna-compatible degree structures, credit transfer schemes
  • Develop alternatives to current global rankings
    • E.g. instruments accommodating the diversity of TE, measuring value-added and allowing tailored rankings
  • Foster centres of excellence at postgraduate level
    • To showcase research achievements in areas of strength
  • Ensure quality provision in undergraduate cross-border education
    • Coordination between agencies dealing with QA and int°, support for int. students, OECD/UNESCO guidelines, cooperation with foreign QA agencies
  • Encourage the mobility of domestic academic staff and students
    • Students  inform on benefits of study abroad, credit transfer schemes, means-tested mobility grants/loans, portable public financing
    • Academics include mobility in promotion criteria

Source: Tertiary Education for the Knowledge Society (OECD, 2008)


3. Enhancing the contribution of post-secondary institutions to regional economic and social development


With globalisation, the comparative advantage of regions that can create the best conditions for growth and development is increasing.


…High technology companies, once tied to their locations, can now move their production to anywhere in the world

… But to stay competitive, key parts of their operations need to be based in knowledge and innovation-intensive regions …..


To Be Globally Competitive Countries need to invest in their Innovation systems and human capital development not only at the national, but also regional level

… Universities and other higher education institutions can play a key role in Regional Innovation Systems and Human Capital Formation…..

oecd reviews of he in regions
OECD reviews of HE in regions
  • Reviews of 14 regions in 12 countries established a steering committee with representatives from HEIs, public and private sectors. The focus was on innovation, human capital development, social, cultural and environmental development and capacity building.
what was learnt
What was learnt?
  • Regional engagement of universities is often based on short term project funding and generic growth. It lacks systematic processes and structures ; There is limited co-operation among HEIs and btw HEIs and stakeholders
  • Most countries have invested in making universities engines for high tech based innovation; but innovation is also incremental, not only radical: low tech fields innovate too
  • Only few universities have gained income through patents and commercialisation: Open science could enhance innovation by reducing the costs of knowledge transfer
  • Policy focus on few high technology fields, while 70% of OECD workforce is in the service sector. Cultural industries are becoming a major driver globally, accounting for 7% of GDP and growing at 10% annually

Barriers to HE engagement




  • Uncoordinated HE, S&T and territorialpolicy
  • Limits to HEIs’ autonomy
  • Limited incentives to HEIs
  • Fragmentedlocalgovs, weakleadership
  • Intraregional and interinstitutionalcompetition
  • HEIsnotpart of strategywork andimplementation
  • Weak management, lack of entrepreneurial culture
  • Tensionsbetweenregionalengagement & academicexcellence
  • Lack of incentives to individuals
pointers for governments
Pointers for governments
  • Make regional engagement explicit in HE legislation
  • Strengthen university autonomy ; provide funding incentives; develop indicators and monitor outcomes
  • Require HEI governance to involve regional stakeholders; encourage the participation of HEIs in regional governance
  • Support collaboration between HEIs and mobilise resources for joint regional and urban strategies
  • Provide a more supportive environment for university-enterprise co-operation
  • Focus on human capital development
pointers for regional authorities
Pointers for regional authorities
  • Establish a permanent partnership structure of key stakeholders from local and regional authorities, business and industry, the community and higher education
  • Mobilise the resources of HEIs in the preparation and implementation of regional and urban strategies
  • Invest jointly with HEIs in programmes which bring benefit to regional business and community
pointers for heis
Pointers for HEIs
  • Mainstream regional economic, social and cultural engagement into the core missions of teaching and research
  • Revisit the mission statement, strategies and goals; monitor results and provide incentives
  • Develop senior management teams, a regional development office and facilitators
  • Establish modern administration with HR and financial resources management systems: Review recruitment, hiring and reward systems.
  • Establish partnership organisations between HEIs
Information on Phase 2 reviews with focus on city regions for 2008-2010

the context key trends
The context: key trends
  • Several trends going in the same direction

 Greater attention to quality by stakeholders

      • Students and employers to make better-informed choices
      • HEIs, departments or faculties to better understand their comparative strengths and weaknesses
      • Public policymakers to quantify stocks and flows in high-level skills and to assess the impact of policy decisions.
  • OECD Education Ministers Meeting, Athens (June 2006)

 From quantity to quality

summary why this initiative
Summary: Why this initiative?
  • Information feeding peer pressure and public accountability has become more powerful than legislation and regulation…

… makes international comparisons inevitable in a field hitherto primarily of national interest

  • The cost of action is significant…

Major challenges to be overcome

… but so is the cost of inaction

Judgements about tertiary education outcomes will continue to be made on the basis of rankings derived from inputs or research-driven outputs

    • Not a ranking, nor standardisation, but evidence for policy and practice
the ahelo feasibility study
The AHELO feasibility study
  • Goal

… to assess whether reliable cross-national comparisons of higher education learning outcomes are scientifically possible and whether their implementation is feasible

  • Not a pilot!

Proof of concept AND practicality

Designed to assist countries decide by the end of 2010 whether to pursue the AHELO initiative towards a full-scale pilot

  • OECD role

Establish broad frameworks that guide international expert committees charged with instrument development in the assessment areas

  • Timeframe 2008-2010
  • Countries to determine further steps on the basis of the outcomes
ahelo scope and purpose
AHELO scope and purpose
  • Our measures need to reflect parts of tertiary education teaching that relate to quality of outcomes

Capture what students know and can do in order to

    • Provide better information to TEIs, governments, and other stakeholders including students and employers
    • AssistTEIs in theirdevelopment and improvement efforts
  • Challenge of getting the balance right between breadth and depth

Not everything that is important needs to be dealt with in detail but the complexity and diversity of tertiary education needs to be reflected

  • Seek measures that are as comparable as possible…

… but as specific for institutions as necessary

    • Focus coverage as much as feasible…

… but keep it as large as necessary to be useful for policy formation

some practical considerations
Some practical considerations
  • Target population

Collect data near, but before, the end of the first degree (large testing window)

  • Successful institutional participation contingent on meeting international standards for test administration and student participation rates
  • Computer delivered assessments

Possibly web-based

  • Describe performance through proficiency levels

Can do statements

  • What feedback to TEIs?

Performance profiles and contextual data

Their own results and those of other TEIs (anonymously)

  • What feedback to students?

How to motivate them?

four strands of work
Four strands of work

Carried out independently but coherently

  • Generic skills strand

International pilot test of the US Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA)

    • To assess the extent to which higher-order skills of the type measured by the CLA can be validly measured across different cultural, linguistic and institutional contexts
  • Discipline strand

Engineering and Economics (following experts’ advice)

Instruments yet to be determined

    • Possible candidates: Provao (Brazil), EGEL (Mexico), GRE Major Fields Test (US), ABET (Engineering, US) etc.
    • Approach (implementation of a full instrument of combination of item pools from distinct instruments) to bedetermined by experts
  • “Value added” or “Learning gain” measurement strand

Exploring the issue of VA measurement from several perspectives

    • Conceptually
    • Examination and analysis of existing data sources, methodologies and psychometric evidence
four strands of work 2
Four strands of work (2)

Generic skills strand

2. Discipline strand

Piloting of instruments involved

3. Value added

measurement strand

4. Contextual strand

  • Development of contextual information indicators at institutional level:
    • Of the kind developed by the CHE in Germany
    • Already successfully applied across borders in Europe
the ahelo feasibility study30
The AHELO feasibility study

Current status

  • Circulation of roadmap
  • Invitation to countries for participation

Deadline 25 July

Cost per country 150K over 2009-2010 + national implementation costs (100-400K depending on strands)

  • Fundraising
ahelo next steps
AHELO: next steps
  • Allocation of participating countries to various strands
  • Planning for field implementation in the various strands
  • Securing funding

Countries and foundations

  • Developing instruments for the different strands with international experts

Selection of instruments, translation, cultural adaptation, development of computer platformetc.

  • Communication and discussion with relevant stakeholders

University groups (e.g. European University Association), staff, business, and student organisations

IMHE General Conference, 8-10 September 2008, Paris

Outcomes of higher education: quality, relevance and impact