Released last month, the EUA ‘Trends 2015’ report presents universities’ perceptions of the developments in European higher education over the past five years. The report is the seventh of its kind and takes as its point of departure ‘Trends VI’, published in 2010. It is based on a survey of 451 higher education institutions from 46 countries, representing over 10 million students (40%) in total.
In comparison to Trends 2010, which primarily focused on the Bologna process itself, one of Trends 2015’s major objectives is to track changes in Learning & Teaching in European Higher Education. An increasing number of institutions all over Europe indicate having a baseline for Learning and Teaching strategies. The strategies vary in detail due to economic and demographic changes, most heavily affecting Eastern European institutions; nonetheless all institutions share a common set of goals determined by European policy objectives and aspects of globalisation.
Positive findings of the Trends 2015 questionnaire include: First, an extremely low rate (1%) of institutions claiming not to have an internationalisation strategy (yet); secondly, a rise of e-learning to provide a more flexible environment for students, and a growth of student support services being implemented at institutions where they have not been available before. On the other hand, there is still room for improvement in the development of strategies for the recruitment of a more diverse student body (e.g. mature and disabled students).
According to Trends 2015, new policies have mainly been introduced by national governments as the European Leadership in higher education is less strong than in 2010. Common in Europe though is a reform in the government funding for Universities, heavily focusing on target and excellence performance.
Furthermore Trends 2015 shows a high commitment to the EHEA, with none of the institutions considering it a negative development. Interestingly though, the objectives of the institutions often differ from those formulated in the Bologna policies. In terms of the joint programmes objective for example, the institutions’ major concern is their sustainability, whereas the policy itself focuses on quality assurance. For two years now, and in the context of the Bologna process, policies have been made increasingly more precise to tackle existing gaps.
Last but not least, ‘Trends 2015’ provides a glimpse into the future complete with recommendations
, both touching upon several elements: Life-long Learning; organisational structures and human resources; growth of marketization; and the journey forth into a common European agenda.
EUA Trends 2015