Abstracts: Institutional diversity and transparency


Institutional Diversity and Transparency: Classifying European Institutions of Higher Education

Author: Frans van Vught, Member of the Group of Policy Advisors of the President of the European Commission, president of the Center for Strategic Management of Universities (Esmu), President of the Netherlands’ House for Education and Research (Nether), member of the Board of the European University association (EUA).


This presentation will address the importance of diversity in European higher education and the need to create more transparency about this diversity. It will explore the concept of diversity and briefly discuss the history of European higher education from the perspective of this concept. It will then take stock of the outcomes regarding diversity in the so-called Bologna process and conclude that the institutional diversity of European higher education largely remains “hidden”.
The presentation will then explore the classification instrument as a tool to create transparency about institutional diversity. It will address the history and functions of higher education classifications and report on a – European Commission funded- project to develop a European classification of higher education institutions.

Convergence and/or diversity? The argument of transparency.

Dirk Van Damme, Head of OECD Centre for Educational Reserach and Innovation (CERI)


Worldwide, higher education systems are engaged in processes of convergence. Globalisation, the integrated system of scientific research, the transnational mobility of students, teaching staff, researchers and institutional leaders, the technology-driven expansion of new teaching and learning modes, and the international labour market of graduates are important drivers of convergence. But also regional processes of integration are crucial. The Bologna Process in Europe is a particularly interesting example. Does convergence on systems level mean that institutions become more and more similar to one another? Or is system convergence a favourable condition for institutional diversification? If this is so, then transparency becomes crucial. New instruments of enhancing system transparency are needed to complement national regulation, based on systematically collected and comparable data. Evidence-based transparency creates a more favourable environment for both the development of integrated higher education systems as for the safeguarding of institutional autonomy than ‘wild’ competition based on unproven institutional reputations.



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