#EAIR2019 Programme

#EAIR2019 Programme

Teaching Responsibility: Social and entrepreneurial competences in Dutch higher education


Round Table


Donald Westerheijden, University of Twente, the Netherlands

Single presentation - 30 Minutes


to be announced

Broad education has a long history and is presently revived as 21st century skills, social competences or for this Forum ‘responsible education’. Multiple terms may, however, imply multiple interpretations. This study reports how responsible education is interpreted in actual study programmes in three Dutch higher education institutions, to probe the distance between practice and European qualification frameworks and recommendations about key competences on which that practice ought to be based.

The last case study is still ongoing, but preliminarily it seems that entrepreneurialism and employment-oriented skills (e.g. team work, presentation) overshadow education in social competences sensu stricto and citizenship. Yet in the European frameworks, the three categories are mentioned side by side.

Without taking a normative stance on what is ‘correct’ responsible education, an explanation for the difference is sought in policy implementation theory (Cerych & Sabatier, 1986) associated with policy translation (Freeman, 2009), and in professional/academic autonomy (Clark, 1983; Mintzberg, 1979) of the street-level bureaucrats (Lipsky, 2010) engaged in teaching or curriculum development. Major influences on street-level implementation are contextual factors, in particular the neo-liberal values that are (were?) all-pervasive in recent decades, in combination with the economic crisis of ca. 2008–2015. The paper ends in the open question how this affects students’ lives.