Close to 600 higher education policy-makers, institutional leaders and academic experts active in higher education attended the biennial General Conference of the OECD’s Programme for Institutional Management in Higher Education on 17-19 September in Paris.
The 2012 Conference focussed on Attaining and Sustaining Mass Higher Education. Around the world, mass higher education is either an aspiration or a reality. Yet this has thrown up many new issues and challenges for countries, including how to manage access, quality and accountability, funding and financing, institutional diversity, internationalisation, technology and the academic workforce.
The goal of the Conference was to identify longer-term trends and included analyses of national and institutional policies, case studies and the latest research from the OECD and elsewhere. The Conference brought together many different perspectives and looked at the issues at the international, national, institutional, or sub-institutional level.
Different choices are being made about a wide range of issues, such as selectivity, regulation and quality assurance, system diversity, public/private investment, and combinations of education and research.
In much of the developed world, sustaining public funding for the mass higher education system and replacing an ageing academic population are reaching a critical point. At the very same time, investments in research and education are booming in many rapidly growing economies, notably in Asia. However, even for these countries, as for much of the rest of the developing world, major questions loom about quality, accessibility and retaining academic capital.