Forum Tracks

Competition, Collaboration & Complementarity in Higher Education

The Forum will be hosted by the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary

Teaching and Learning

Track Chairs:
Helga Dorner  • Central European University, Hungary and Rie Troelsen • University of Southern Denmark, Denmark.

The EAIR forum aims to create a space for presenting, discussing and assessing in a cohesive manner cooperation, competition and complementarity in higher education. When it comes to teaching and learning in higher education, this track provides participants with the possibility to engage in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). SoTL is all about cooperation and complementarity in the way that teachers systematically analyse their teaching, document their reflections and share their findings with colleagues. SoTL is, in other words, “making transparent how learning has been made possible” (Trigwell, 2012) and this transparency both builds on and builds up cooperation and complementarity. SoTL and the development of teaching and learning is, however, also seen as in competition with the research strand at universities – how can improvements of the teaching and learning experience be recognised and acknowledged in a setting where research intentions and outputs play a vital role? Hence, becoming engaged in SoTL is not just about teachers and students making their learning processes visible, it is also about leaders and managers setting the scene and creating the organisational possibilities for being engaged in SoTL (Mårtensson, Roxå & Olsson, 2011).

Given this overall scope, this track searches for submissions (theoretical papers, literature reviews, empirical papers, case studies) focused on teaching and learning, exploring some of the following topics:

  • Policies related to teaching and learning in higher education.
  • The place of teaching (in relation to research) in university careers.
  • Possibilities and limits for teaching based on the relationship teaching-learning-research.
  • Improving teaching and learning through course design.
  • Teaching methods for active learning including the use of technology.
  • Assessment as a way to improve learning.
  • Students as Partners in teaching and learning.
  • Internationalising the curriculum.
Quality in Higher Education

Track Chair:
Tatiana Yarkova • Central European University, Hungary.

Achieving and maintaining quality is central to universities’ drive to stay ahead of their competitors. As universities compete for students, faculty, staff, and resources, they demonstrate their quality by showcasing their placement in international rankings, their accreditation status from national, regional, or professional agencies, their award-winning faculty and the success of their graduates.

At the same time, achieving top quality would not be possible without cooperation – in research, teaching, faculty and student exchanges. Universities cooperate also when it comes to defining, maintaining, and measuring quality – from benchmarking of key performance indicators, to peer review of research and teaching, program and institutional evaluation, cooperation with accreditation agencies, and scholarly research into multiple dimensions of quality in higher education.

Yet, the relationship between numerous stakeholders involved in higher education goes beyond the competition-cooperation matrix to a complex web of partially competing and partially complimentary values, goals, and priorities. Public regulation of universities intends to control quality, albeit through ‘steering at a distance’, while universities vie for institutional autonomy. University leadership defines excellence by faculty publications and external research funding, while accrediting agencies emphasize assessment of student learning outcomes as the key indicator of quality. Students are concerned about transferable skills and marketability of their degrees, while faculty members remain largely rooted in their disciplines and traditional teaching models.

On the one hand, there appears to be a conceptual consensus about general trends and approaches to quality in higher education. Scholars of teaching and learning agree on the importance of the shift from teacher-centred to learner-centred environments, from passive knowledge reception to deep, active, technology-enhanced and independent learning. In turn, scholars of quality management agree on the importance of the shift from input to outcome-based approaches to quality assessment, and from static factual measurements to process-oriented continuous self-improvement. On the other hand, there is a potential mismatch between various understandings of quality and excellence by different stakeholders, and a mismatch between ‘espoused’ philosophies of quality and their practical applications by higher education institutions, accrediting agencies, and faculty members.

For this track, we welcome submissions that address questions in the following areas:

  • How do prevalent quality paradigms translate into real-life quality systems? Do they live up to the expectations, and if not, what are the root causes for the mismatch?
  • How does public regulation of quality in higher education shape and affect institutional quality priorities? How can we achieve a meaningful balance between regulation and autonomy that truly enhances quality?
  • How can key stakeholders enhance cooperation to arrive at shared understandings of quality? Can the epistemological rift between accrediting agencies and faculty be repaired? What role can universities play in bridging this gap?
  • How successful are institutional attempts to ‘embed’ quality culture? Is there evidence of faculty ownership? How can institutions re-shape their quality systems to remain compliant with regulations while ensuring a meaningful buy-in from their internal constituencies?
  • How can prevalent quality management approaches be improved to help institutional quality initiatives find their ways into the classroom?
Governance and Management

Track Chairs:
Gergely Kováts • Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary and Rosalind Pritchard • University of Ulster, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

In the age of increased competition, permanent reforms and continuous funding pressures, higher education institutions need to be innovative so that they can quickly adapt to new challenges and opportunities. They need a culture which fosters creativity, experimentation and an entrepreneurial spirit; their governance structure has to support the changing needs of staff, students and clients.

However, institutions that are constantly redesigned, reengineered and “under construction” are hardly efficient. Although universities, as some of the oldest institutions in modern history, are experienced in mastering the ever present paradox of tradition and innovation, it remains a challenge to develop responsive organizations.

In this track, presenters are invited to discuss how the contradictory expectations of flexibility and stability are impacting on governance structures and leadership roles. We welcome papers addressing questions such as:

  • What are the major internal and external challenges that require the continuous transformation of higher education institutions?
  • To what extent are the established traditions and organizational practices blessings or curses?
  • What can we learn from the history of universities about resilience and change?
  • What new management approaches, governance solutions, and organizational innovations have emerged recently?
  • What kind of leadership roles are needed for agile institutions?
  • How do new governance and management solutions relate to the notions of academic community, freedom and autonomy?
Social Dimension of Higher Education

Track Chairs:
Pusa Nastase • Central European University, Hungary and Regina Aichinger • University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria, Austria

The social dimension of higher education features prominently on most higher education strategies at European and national levels, particularly in relation to important topics such as employability of graduates and access to higher education. The social dimension is seen as a factor in increasing the attractiveness of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) as outlined by the Education Ministers in the Yerevan Communiqué (2015): Making our systems more inclusive is an essential aim for the EHEA as our populations become more and more diversified, also due to immigration and demographic changes.

Moreover, inclusive policies in education are seen as tools for economic development and social cohesion in EHEA countries and beyond. An educated workforce is essential for the knowledge society and the higher education sector plays a crucial role in providing students throughout their life with opportunities for improving their employability and competitiveness.

The social dimension of higher education is a broad concept referring to the following issues:

  • Widening participation in higher education to include all groups represented in the society, with a special attention being paid to previously underrepresented groups.
  • Removal of barriers to completion of university studies for both national and international students.
  • Mobility programs for students and teachers.
  • Institutional focus on student centered learning for all types of learners, including lifelong learning.

This track accepts papers related to:

  • Policies for reducing inequalities and increasing access to higher education.
  • Programs aimed at integrating refugees into higher education.
  • Lifelong learning programs, policies and practices in higher education institutions.
  • Institutional support for students including student services, counseling and career guidance.
  • Student centered policies aimed at improving completion rates, flexible learning paths, alternative access routes.
  • Policies and practices aimed at increasing students’ employability on the job market.
  • Regional/local cooperation aimed at spreading the resources available in higher education institutions.
  • The continuous development of competences and strengthening of knowledge alliances.
Higher Education and Collaborative Technologies

Track Chairs:
Margaret Bolter • Central European University, Hungary and Diane Geraci • Central European University, Hungary

In a world where technology is rapidly changing, the role of technology within higher education is a complex question. Technologies are dynamic tools used by faculty to support teaching and learning, by students in their study and collaboration, by researchers to conduct their research, and by institutions in the format of their programming (e.g. online or distance courses) and in their cooperation with other institutions – to name a few examples.

In parallel, higher education institutions face significant funding constraints, pressure to reach more students of all ages, and competition amongst themselves for students, faculty, grants, staff, and rankings. Institutions also collaborate in fundamental ways by sharing infrastructural resources, developing joint programs, and making joint appointments, while researchers from different institutions collaborate on research projects. Technology is often presented as a panacea to addressing these challenges and enabling these collaborations. But what does this mean in practice?  What does it mean for new approaches in pedagogy? What does it mean for those managing strategic planning and investments?

For this track, we focus on the ways that new technologies are enabling new ways of engagement in the classroom across institutional boundaries. We make three assumptions. One, collaboration across universities in developing curricula and in networked teaching and learning will strengthen our respective missions to educate the next generation of global citizens. Two, collaboration in the “global classroom” will drive innovation at our own universities. Three, higher education needs to be re-envisioned with a goal of examining how we can be stronger together.

For this track, we welcome case studies, interactive presentations, empirical papers, or theoretical papers. Possible topics include:

  • Case studies demonstrating technology supported collaborative teaching and learning models across institutions and the lessons learned.
  • Support or disproval of the above assumptions about the benefits of cross institution collaboration for teaching and learning.
  • Investigations of the challenges of harnessing the effective use of collaboration technologies for pedagogical purposes.
  • Impact on budgets, infrastructure, and governance of the global networked classroom.
  • Viability of the University in the future if we maintain the status quo in the classroom.
Academic Career Development

Track Chair:
Marvin Lazerson • Central European University, Hungary

The massification of higher education in Europe and beyond, the internationalization of many higher education institutions as well as the changes in the universities’ missions have led to a more complex organisation of both academic markets and careers. In Europe there is significant variety in the organization of academic work (whereby faculty may be civil servants or private employees, may or may not work in tenured- environments and may or may not have mandatory retirement from their academic position). Nevertheless, there are also common trends and worries regarding the status of the academic profession and the pressures faculty have to withstand. Issues such as the limited number of entry level positions compared to the number of graduates of doctoral programs, the increased casualization of academic work as well as the increased pressure put on faculty to conduct high quality research (essential in the race for rankings and individual prestige), teach and engage in third mission activities are relevant across the profession and regardless of the national context.

Research shows that academics often struggle at all points of their careers. At the entry level, the employment options for doctoral graduates are limited and the post-doctoral positions are difficult to translate into stable employment. Alternatives to academic careers are discussed more and more but universities have difficulties offering doctoral education that prepares graduates to work outside academia. Those who manage to secure academic employment struggle with the balance between research needed for promotion and teaching and service. They may also struggle with advancing through university management and leadership particularly if they are women, minorities or work in places where external stakeholders are allocated larger leadership roles than previously. In such volatile environments, universities may have difficulties retaining faculty.

This track accepts papers related to:

  • Post-doctoral positions: their availability and impact on career trajectories.
  • Career expectations of and options for doctorate candidates.
  • Development of alternative models that provide structured opportunities for tenured employment.
  • Recruitment and promotion of academic staff.
  • Home grown talent versus internationally recruited faculty.
  • Impact of appointive autonomy on academic careers.
  • Good-practices in university leadership and management aimed at increasing participation of underrepresented categories.
  • Academic markets and careers in comparative perspective.
  • Status of the academic profession and its impact on recruitment and retention.
  • Academic work reward systems.
  • Part time vs. full time academic work, the casualization of academic work.
  • Differences across disciplines in academic career development.
University Autonomy

Track Chair:
Kata Orosz • Central European University, Hungary

University autonomy is a concept that is difficult to pin down, as its meaning tends to vary across national contexts and over time. Some define university autonomy as the power of the institution to manage its internal affairs without undue external influence. Others consider institutional autonomy to be a dimension of academic freedom, which they describe as the power of faculty and students to teach, research, and contribute to the governance of the university. Yet others define university autonomy as a concept that characterizes both the relationship between the university and external actors, as well as the activities that are carried out by university faculty and students. Some studies differentiate between “substantive” and “procedural” autonomy, that is, the ability of universities to set goals from themselves, versus the ability to decide how universities will pursue said goals.

While it may not be possible to provide a single definition of university autonomy, there appears to be a consensus that university autonomy is a multi-dimensional concept, although the numbers and names of autonomy dimensions vary greatly across published studies. Anecdotal evidence suggests that some dimensions of university autonomy may be relatively more important than others, and that various dimensions of university autonomy may be interconnected.

This track welcomes both theoretical-conceptual and empirical papers (including comparative studies and single-case studies) that address questions such as:

  • What does university autonomy mean for European universities? How do definitions of university autonomy differ within Europe, and between Europe and other regions?
  • What does university autonomy mean for different social actors in Europe? How is the concept of university autonomy different from the concept of academic freedom in the European context?
  • What are the relevant dimensions of university autonomy in the European context? Are some dimensions of university autonomy relatively more important than others? Are different dimensions of university autonomy interconnected? If so, what are the implications of these for policy makers at institutional, national, and supra-national levels?
  • Has the level of university autonomy in Europe changed over time? If so, what social, political, and economic processes explain this change?
Innovation in Higher Education

Track Chairs:
Gábor Halász • ELTE University Budapest, Hungary and Jussi Kivistö • University of Tampere, Finland

Building and maintaining effective links between education, research, and innovation – the three sides of the ‘knowledge triangle’ – are considered as crucial drivers of economic growth and technological development. Being a crucial part of this triangle, higher education institutions worldwide seek actively innovative forms of delivering learning and new knowledge. This takes place in a societal context which has been for a long time characterized by shifts from regulation to deregulation, from steering to market, from closed to open innovation, and from administration to management.

The core activities of higher education institutions are built around processes creation and transmission of knowledge. Innovativeness in these processes requires that higher education institutions possess capable institutional management, maintain institutional culture open to changes, and enjoy necessary level of autonomy and academic freedom. Similarly, constant and effective interaction with environment (economic, social, cultural, technological), are believed to be an essential boundary condition for innovation in higher education. At the same time, seeking new and effective forms of entrepreneurialism has seemingly become the ‘new normal’ as a dominant mode of operation in higher education institutions.

Under this broad thematic scope, this track searches for submissions (theoretical papers, literature reviews, empirical papers, case studies) that address the diversity of challenges faced by universities and other higher education institutions engaged in innovation-driven development processes, including (but not limited to) the following themes:

  • The role of universities in innovation networks and systems.
  • Innovative approaches in teaching and learning.
  • University-based research & development as a source of innovation.
  • Innovation in university leadership and management.
  • Entrepreneurial universities as sources of innovation.
  • Public policies stimulating university-based innovation.
  • Criticisms of innovation-centered approaches in higher education.