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Trends 2018 report is out

On 11 October 2018 the European University Association (EUA) published the 8th edition of its flagship Trends report, focusing on “Learning and teaching in the European Higher Education Area”. The 2018 publication continues the exploratory work started by Trends 2015 in examining the process of adaptation of learning and teaching approaches by European higher education institutions (HEIs), in the context of a changing higher education and societal landscape, and of emerging European-and national-level policies and reforms. A key point of enquiry in the present report has been the question of if and how the implementation of learning outcomes and student-centred learning - both key European-level policy objectives - have contributed to the enhancement of teaching and learning, as well as the impact of these transformations on institutional strategies and structures that support learning and teaching.
The report is based on institutional responses to an online survey (303 institutions from 43 higher education systems), supplemented by desk research and interviews with national experts in selected countries. The publication is divided into five sections, covering: institutional learning and teaching strategies; national strategies; study programmes; teaching approaches, pedagogy and methodologies, and last but not least, teaching staff.
Here are some selected key findings:
  • Institutional strategies tend to focus on: a) international exchange and cooperation as a means for learning and teaching enhancement, b) academic staff development, and c)other measures to improve teaching.
  • 78% of responding institutions confirm the existence of a national strategy for learning and teaching, typically as part of a broader higher education strategy (often called “framework”, “agenda”, “action plan”,etc.), though in most systems, national steering of learning and teaching seems to be rather ‘soft’.
  • Three quarters of the institutions participating confirmed the implementation of learning outcomes across the institution and for all study programmes. Nevertheless, approx. one third of institutions still struggles with issues related to the implementation of learning outcomes. One of the biggest implementation challenges seem to be insufficient resources to support staff in implementing learning outcomes (40% of respondents).
  • The majority of institutions confirmed an interest and an increased demand for more flexible provision of degree and non-degree education, suggesting a process of gradual change in the years to come towards more flexible education and digitally-supported learning.
  • Within institutions, the innovation push on teaching and learning pedagogies seems to come mainly from individual teachers, departments, and faculties. However, institutional leadership, especially vice-rectors, as well as dedicated structures (e.g. learning centres) have an important role to play in upscaling tested learningand teaching approaches, and in mainstreaming them.
  • Only about 50% of the institutions have set formal requirements regarding teaching experience and the regular evaluation of teaching, and about one third requires participation in teaching enhancement (pedagogical development). However, these usually address only professors, lecturers, and associate professors, leaving out other types of staff that contribute to teaching.
  • 77% of institutions provide optional teaching enhancement courses, while 37% have made them compulsory. Also, two thirds of institutions also encourage and support good teaching through other means, such as portfolios, self-evaluations, peer feedback, team-teaching, and research on learning and teaching.
Overall, the results point to several commonalities across countries in the EHEA, and underline the value of collaborations at different levels for enhancing teaching and learning. The report findings will be discussed also at the upcoming EUA European Learning & Teaching Forum, which will take place on 14 -15 February 2019.