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Higher Education in Europe: do we know how socially inclusive it is?


Higher Education in Europe: do we know how socially inclusive it is? Elisabet Weedon, Centre for Research in Education Inclusion and Diversity, – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Higher Education in Europe: do we know how socially inclusive it is?

  • Higher Education in Europe do we know how
    socially inclusive it is?
  • Elisabet Weedon,
  • Centre for Research in Education Inclusion and
  • University of Edinburgh
  • www.creid.ed.ac.uk

  • The Bologna Process and its relationship with the
  • The social dimension in the Bologna Process
  • Participation rates in higher education and
    labour market outcomes across Europe or why is
    widening participation important?
  • Overview of widening participation in European
    countries with a focus on access
  • Access and second chance routes 3 country
  • Stratification in access who goes to which
  • Conclusion and reflections

The role of the EU in higher education
  • Education was not part of 1957 Treaty of Rome
  • Initial emphasis within EEC on vocational
    training and free movement of labour gt increasing
    role in higher education through community
  • Lisbon strategy especially research (framework
    programmes funding) and modernising agenda
    increased links with Bologna process
  • EU2020 strategy 40 of 30-34 year olds to hold
    tertiary qualification
  • Cooperation across countries encouraged through
    Open Method of Coordination (OMC) not legally

The Bologna Process intergovernmental cooperation
  • Some key dates
  • 1998 - Sorbonne Declaration 4 national
    ministers (France, Germany, Italy and UK)
  • 1999 Bologna Declaration signed by 29 countries
  • 2010 creation of European Higher Education Area
  • 2012 47 countries signed up to Bologna
  • 2007 social dimension in the Bologna Process

Initial aims of the Bologna process
  • Develop comparable degrees based on 2 main cycles
  • Produce system of credits (ECTs)
  • Promote mobility
  • Promote European cooperation in quality assurance
  • Promote European dimension in higher education in
    2001 - Prague
  • Emphasis on lifelong learning which included the
    need to strengthen social cohesion and promote
    equal opportunities

European University Association (EUA)
  • The Bologna Process does not aim to harmonise
    national educational systems but rather to
    provide tools to connect them. The intention is
    to allow the diversity of national systems and
    universities to be maintained while the European
    Higher Education Area improves transparency
    between higher education systems, as well as
    implements tools to facilitate recognition of
    degrees and academic qualifications, mobility,
    and exchanges between institutions. The reforms
    are based on ten simple objectives which
    governments and institutions are currently
    implementing. Most importantly, all participating
    countries have agreed on a comparable three cycle
    degree system for undergraduates (Bachelor
    degrees) and graduates (Master and PhD degrees).

Bologna Process a critique
  • Undemocratic process which lacks accountability
  • It is worrying that many of the most crucial and
    influential decisions are taken in
    intergovernmental contexts, where there is a
    power-shift to the executive at the expense of
    national parliaments, and that they are
    implemented by means of soft law of which the
    democratic legitimacy is doubtful (Garben, 2012)

The social dimension in the Bologna process
London 2007
  • Higher education should play a strong role in
    fostering social cohesion, reducing inequalities
    the student body entering, participating in and
    completing higher education at all levels should
    reflect the diversity of our populations. We
    reaffirm the importance of students being able to
    complete their studies without obstacles related
    to their social and economic background. We
    therefore continue our efforts to provide
    adequate student services, create more flexible
    learning pathways into and within higher
    education, and to widen participation at all
    levels on the basis of equal opportunity.

Why widening access matters employment rates by
educational level, 2013, percentages
Country differences in 30-34 year olds with
tertiary education, selected EU countries,
25-64 year olds with tertiary qualification, by
At risk of poverty by educational level,
Widening participation goals 2010-11 vague?
  • Most EHEA countries have general equal
    opportunities policies assumed also to address
    widening access for under-represented groups
    (e.g. relating to financial measures)
  • Some have targeted policy measures, the most
    common is disability followed by low
    socio-economic status
  • Some countries focus on specific groups based on
    ethnicity relevant to their particular country
  • BUT lack of targets for increasing participation
    in most countries
  • (Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive
    Agency, 2012)

Most frequently captured student characteristics
in 2014
  • Qualification prior to entry (27 jurisdictions)
  • Socioeconomic status (19 jurisdictions)
  • Disability (17 jurisdictions)
  • Labour market status prior to entry (13
  • Labour market status during studies (12
  • Ethnic/cultural/linguistic minority status (8
  • Migrant status (13 jurisdictions)
  • However, very limited use of such data to monitor
  • in some national contexts, issues related to
    diversity are of marginal national and public
    interest, data collected is not being analysed
    or not being published (Eurydice, 2014, p. 19)

Who is under-represented in which country?
Target groups in 2014 (Eurydice, 2014)
  • Only 9 (EU associate countries) have some
  • First generation HE (Belgium nl)
  • Male students (Finland)
  • Female students into STEM subjects (Lithuania)
  • Mature students and low SE status (Ireland,
    France, Scotland, England)
  • General study support (Estonia)
  • Slovenia has not identified specific target
    groups but intends to do so
  • Vague and lack of comparability?

Routes into higher education Bologna countries
  • Traditional route achievement of upper secondary
  • Second chance routes include
  • recognition of knowledge and skills outside
    formal learning contexts (APEL)
  • Preparatory/bridging programmes mainly for
    those who did not complete upper secondary
    qualification (e.g. Access to HE in UK)
  • In 2012 22 Bologna countries offered alternatives
    (out of 47) mainly western and northern Europe
    (same in 2014)
  • Influenced by school system comprehensive vs
  • Stratified systems in the past low levels of
    participation among those not in academic stream

Alternative routes recognition of competences
in 3 countries
  • Germany
  • Upper secondary certificate limited entry based
    on subject (fachgebundene Hochschulreife) or
  • Entry to HE based on accreditation of prior
    learning, work experience and/or special
  • Sweden
  • Adult ed. at upper secondary (Kommunal
  • Other education (Annan utbildningsform)
  • Work experience (254) (Arbetslivserfarenhet)
  • Recognition of competences (Validering av reell
  • Norway
  • Accreditation of competences

Access to HE by alternative routes (Orr
Hovdhaugen, 2014)
  • Germany Accreditation of prior experience recent
    and used by
  • 0.8 of all students 3.1 of low ed background
    and 5.9 of delayed transitions students
  • Sweden Work experience (25/4) (now abolished)
    was used by
  • 5.2 of all students 8.7 of low ed background
    and 7.7 of delayed transitions students
  • Recognition of competence was used by
  • 2.5 all students 2.7 of LE background 3.7 DT
  • Norway Accreditation of competences was used by
  • 8.5 of all students 16 of low ed background
    students and 23.6 of delayed transitions
  • Note Low educational background parents with
    no more than lower secondary proxy low social
    backgroud delayed transition 2 year gap min
    school HE proxy for lifelong learner

Second chance routes useful in widening access?
All students Low ed. background Delayed trans.
Germany traditional 82.7 72.2 74.7
Upper secondary limited entry 3.4 5.8 3.8
Upper secondary limited entry 13.1 18.9 15.6
Accreditation of prior learning 0.8 3.1 5.9
100 100 100
Sweden traditional 71.5 58.8 58.1
Adult education 17.0 27.0 25.0
Other education 3.8 2.5 5.5
Work experience (abolished) 5.2 8.6 7.7
Recognition of comp. 2.5 2.7 3.7
100 100 100
Norway traditional 91.5 84.0 76.4
Accreditation of competence 8.5 16.0 23.6
100 100 100
Lessons from the case studies?
  • Germany although the proportion using 2nd chance
    route is low it reaches the intended target
    highly stratified systems challenge existing
    routes to a greater extent than those less
  • Sweden higher proportion but one scheme
    discontinued and not as effective at reaching
    target group less stratified but mainstreamed
    the different options less effective in
    reaching intended target
  • Norway highest proportion using the route and
    (out of the 3) the most effective at reaching the
    target group but system of accreditation
    burdensome and therefore used most by
    recruiting institutions and for CPD (e.g.
  • To what extent are WP students channelled to
    certain institutions leading to stratification
    in higher education institutions?

Access and type of institution Austria (see
Weedon Riddell, 2012)
Type of institution Low socio-economic status Middle socio-economic status Upper socio-economic status High socio-economic status
Scientific Universities 18.1 30.2 33.1 18.6
Universities of Fine Arts 15.1 25.1 39.8 19.8
Universities of Applied Sciences 23.4 34.8 31.9 9.9
Teacher Training Academies 20.9 34.4 35.6 9.1
Type of institution attended Flanders, 1976
cohort, (see Weedon Riddell, 2012)
Type of institution Low socio-economic status Middle socio-economic status High socio-economic status Total
University 2.1 6.8 23.3 9.8
4-year college 1.7 3.8 8.8 4.5
2-year college 13.7 28.2 27.7 24.4
No tertiary education 82.4 61.3 40.1 61.3
Total 100 100 100 100
Conclusion and reflection
  • There are substantial differences in employment
    rates and at risk of poverty between most and
    least qualified more so in some countries than
    others widening access is important!
  • Bologna Process shows commitment to widening
    access, supported by certain EU measures but
    there is limited evidence for any substantial
  • Case study examples of alternative routes show
    some success in widening participation but a
    countrys compulsory education system has a
    strong impact on access to higher education
  • Mainstreaming of alternative routes can lead to
    advantages for non-target group as in Sweden

Conclusion and reflection cont.
  • There is variation in target groups for widening
    access and in data gathered to what extent does
    this affect comparability of data?
  • How accurate are the data? For example, Scottish
    data published in Eurydice 2014 does not seem to
    tally with data published by HESA and SFC
  • Some evidence of stratification in access with
    widening access students more likely to access
    low prestige institutions is this due to
    globalisation and league tables etc.?
  • Future challenges clearly remain in equalising
    access to education perhaps particularly at a
    time of resource scarcity and economic crisis!
    Can we have equity with efficiency or have we
    moved to an era where the economic agenda trumps
    the social agenda?

  • Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive
    Agency 2012) The European Higher Education Area
    in 2012 Bologna Process implementation report,
    Brussel Eurydice
  • Eurostat Data in tables on slides 9, 10, 11 and
    16 are publicly available from
  • European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice (2014)
    Modernisation of higher education in Europe
    access, retention and employability, 2014,
    Eurydice report, Luxembourg Publications Office
    of the European Union
  • Garben, S. (2012) The future of higher education
    in Europe the case for a stronger base in EU
    law, London School of Economics LEQS Paper No
  • Orr, D. and Hovdhaugen, E. (2014) Second chance
    routes into higher education Sweden, Norway and
    Germany compared, International Journal of
    Lifelong Education, Vol. 33, 1, pp. 45-61
  • Riddell, S. and Weedon, E. (2014) European higher
    education, the inclusion of students from
    underrepresented groups and the Bologna Process,
    International Journal of Lifelong Education, Vol.
    33, 1, pp. 26-44
  • Weedon, E. and Riddell, S. (2012) Reducing or
    reinforcing inequality assessing the impact of
    European policy on widening access to higher
    education, in Riddell, S., Markowitsch, J. and
    Weedon, E. Lifelong learning in Europe equity
    and efficiency in the balance, Bristol Policy
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