Although the bulk of Group Members are from the U.S. and Canada (roughly 75%), I feel it’s important to pay attention to trends in other parts of the world. Not only because we can learn from each other, but also because changes in one region tend (increasingly) to impact others. The work of the European Commission is a good example.

The European Commission is looking at issues that are common to most regions, including improving university efficiency, defining the right degree of university autonomy, linking university funding to performance, and competency-based curriculum/assessment.

Of particular interest to Group members may be the drive to “modernize” how universities operate and the attention this places on the role of management.

Europe has around 4,000 higher education institutions, with over 17 million students and 1.5 million staff. Some European universities are amongst the best in the world, but overall potential is not used to the full. Curricula are not always up-to-date, not enough young people go to university after finishing school and not enough adults have ever attended university. European universities often lack the management tools and funding to match their ambitions.

Governments and higher education institutions are looking for ways to creating better conditions for universities.

The European Commission has published a modernisation agenda for universities which was welcomed by the Member States and the main stakeholders in higher education. The modernisation agenda for universities is part of the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs. The main fields of reform are:

  • Curricular reform: The three cycle system (bachelor-master-doctorate), competence based learning, flexible learning paths, recognition, mobility.
  • Governance reform: University autonomy, strategic partnerships, including with enterprises, quality assurance.
  • Funding reform: Diversified sources of university income better linked to performance, promoting equity, access and efficiency, including the possible role of tuition fees, grants and loans.

For more information, check out the EC site on Higher Education

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