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A new Eurydice report Structural Indicators for Monitoring Education and Training Systems in Europe 2021: Overview of major reforms since 2015 was published this month.
The report presents more than 20 structural indicators on education policy, in four areas: early childhood education and care (ECEC), achievement in basic skills, early leaving from education and training (ELET) and higher education.
This article focuses exclusively on higher education, where an overview of reform and policy developments since 2015 is presented, showing the policies that were introduced and which included quantitative targets for widening participation, in response to the benchmark set at EU level, of having at least 40% of 30 to 34 year old citizens with tertiary or equivalent education. According to Eurostat, this target was reached in 2019. Building on the European Commission’s communication 'Supporting growth and jobs: An agenda for the modernisation of Europe’s higher education systems' from 2011, the following indicators were chosen at the time:
Image credit: Eurydice report
Since 2015, very few reforms took place, with most of the policies focusing on including quantitative targets for widening participation, attainment of underrepresented groups and completion as part of quality assurance. While Austria, Croatia and Hungary have introduced some of these indicators as part of their general objectives and external quality assurance, Finland and Romania have, one the other hand, ceased to have quantitative targets for widening participation and attainment of underrepresented groups.
However, years 2020 and 2021 have seen a significant boost, with more than two thirds of the education systems introducing indicators for monitoring of the socioeconomic characteristics as the most widely implemented policy. Also, the recognition of prior informal or non-formal learning and the requirement of completion rates was implemented in more than half of the education systems. However, the policies focusing on widening participation and social dimension were implemented in less than half of the education systems, indicating a need for further development of these aspects.
These results confirm that the processes have been put in motion in some education systems following the commitment on inclusion and social dimension agreed by the European Higher Education Area Ministers in the Rome Ministerial Communique, as well as at EU level. Nevertheless, the Eurydice report suggests not all systems are currently on track to fulfill political commitments made by their Ministers.