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26/9/2020  
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Trends 2015: the changing context of European higher education


The European University Association (EUA) has launched the Trends 2015 report, which presents the universities´ perceptions of the changes that have taken place in European higher education over the past five years, particularly in relation to learning and teaching. Based on survey responses of 451 higher education institutions from 46 countries (48 higher education systems), the report outlines the changing context in which higher education institutions operate.
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The changing context of European HE
In most European countries, universities are coping with the consequences of the economic crisis, which in some places is paired with negative demographic trends and migration. The report identifies a number of steps taken by universities to respond to this context as well as to other European and international trends.

Universities have adopted a stronger strategic focus on increasing and widening participation, and on enhancing the employability of graduates. The quality of learning and teaching is receiving increased attention and support by the academic staff and the institutional leadership. As examples, 60% have a centralised unit for pedagogical staff development, and 63% have institution-wide quality assurance policies and processes. The implementation of learning outcomes has continued to progress since 2010, with 64% of institutions responding that these have been introduced for all courses. Institutions are generally positive about the benefits of learning outcomes. It is clear, however, that in many institutions their implementation appears to have taken place without changing in radical ways how curricula, including examinations, are developed. Therefore this area is still a work in progress.

Trends 2015 results confirm the pre-eminence of both quality assurance and internationalisation, which had been identified as a key development by the Trends 2010 report. Thus, 92% of institutions state that internationalisation has contributed to improving the quality of learning and teaching, notably through mobility of students and staff and international collaboration. The use of information and communication technology has clearly become important and has joined quality assurance and internationalisation as the third top priority of institutions. Institutions are investing in ICT tools, offer blended learning and plan to expand their e-learning offer to increase access and deliver greater flexibility of learning. These results broadly confirm those of the 2014 EUA survey on e-learning.

The report also identifies several areas that require further developments as well as aspects that could be topics of specific research projects. Further key findings of the report will be presented by the author Andrée Sursock in an upcoming Brussels-based event. An invitation for participation will be disseminated to EUA members shortly.

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The EU "An Obituary"
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