European higher education co-operation projects still have many obstacles to overcome
When Europe’s science ministers will meet up in Leuven at the end of April 2009 for their 5th Bologna follow-up conference, the focus will be on one question: “How well did we manage to build up a single European higher education area?” One contribution that will help answer this question is the study compiled by CHE – Centre for Higher Education Development and CHEPS (Center for Higher Education Policy Studies) on behalf of EUREGIO. The main finding is that, based on the joint bachelor-master, structure, European HEI systems have moved closer together but, in particular regarding the basic financial and legal frameworks, there is clear non-convergence. This is the case mainly in the implementation of Joint Degrees.
The study analyses the experience gathered during the Dutch-German project CUNE (“Companies’ and Universities’ Network in Europe”), for which the Fachhochschulen of Osnabrück and Münster together with Saxion Hogeschool of Enschede tested several bi-national study programme models and their accreditation in a multi-annual project. The case study is completed by an analysis of other European implementation initiatives and is a conclusion containing recommendations for action. The latter address HEIs that offer joint degree programmes or intend to introduce them, and they address higher education policy institutes and promotional bodies. The main recommendations are:
It is the responsibility of European higher education policies to provide better framework conditions for study programme co-operation projects. As long as there remains non-convergence in the existing financial and legal framework conditions, HEIs should use the leeway afforded by national higher education laws to point out the loopholes in the legislation to ministries. Before starting to develop transnational study programmes, a feasibility study is specifically recommended. It helps to use time and resources sensible and to recognise early whether or not the project is workable. The requirements of national quality management and accreditation systems should also be considered here. It will also pay dividends to negotiate in advance the shares the partners contribute to implementing the joint study programme and to determine them bindingly. Not least, it is important that the lecturers in the programme consider each other as equal partners with respect to decision-making power, status and level of qualification. Current experience shows that, due to cultural aspects, the self-image of university teachers can be very different, which may cause problems in the exchange and in the co-operation project.
The study can be downloaded for free and is available in four languages: German, English, French and Dutch.
Further Information can be found in the publications stated below.