Zijlstra wil sterker Europa in hoger onderwijs

Nieuws | de redactie
5 april 2011 | Europa moet zich nadrukkelijker inzetten voor de kwaliteit van het HO. Bij de Europese Commissie breekt Halbe Zijlstra onder meer een lans voor U-Map. “The establishment of a feasible multi-dimensional ranking is essential. Transparency, also of performance, will enable institutions to demonstrate that they are valued for excelling at their specific fields of expertise.”

Hij schrijft hierover aan ‘Brussel’ in een brief over de modernisering van het hoger onderwijs en HO-beleid onder meer: “It is of vital importance that continued support is given to the construction of transparency  instruments, as they can be greatly beneficial to institutions in helping them find their natural partners at a European level. Since instruments such as U-Map derive much of their potential from the number of countries and institutions that participate, I believe rolling out U-Map to all Member States would be desirable.

It is also important to continue developing instruments such as U-Map and U-Multirank and ensure that they can count on broad based support. For these projects to succeed, they must be able to faithfully map the diversity of European higher education. As such, it is imperative that we develop indicators that are substantially different from those which are used in current rankings. We have to keep working on creating indicators which include other aspects of the knowledge triangle, such as impact of research and quality of education.

Beter doordachte beslissingen mogelijk

The establishment of a feasible multi-dimensional university ranking is essential. Transparency, also of performance, will enable institutions to demonstrate that they are valued for excelling at their specific fields of expertise without necessarily having to conduct groundbreaking research. I believe this might enable authorities to make more informed decisions about the provision of financial incentives.

Multi-dimensional rankings are also instrumental to improving the connections between actors within the knowledge triangle. Current rankings are primarily based on research output, such as numbers of peer-reviewed, scientific publications and fail to include indicators for such important aspects as the quality of education and dissemination and the application of scientific and technological knowledge (valorisation).

As a result, they do not offer institutions of higher education any incentives for improving their education levels or their dissemination activities and cooperation with the business world. Recent American research has shown that researchers who temporarily leave their universities to engage in entrepreneurial activities have a structurally lower publication rate upon their return to research. As a result, then, of the rather limited focus of the current ranking system, improving the link between the research and business arenas might have detrimental effects on other aspects of the knowledge triangle. This, of course, is undesirable.

Additionally, it is necessary to create more diversity within the system, between institutions, and with regard to types of educational and research programmes so that they are more closely aligned with the needs of actors outside the higher education system. Of course, this should not be at the expense of academic integrity and does not preclude continued commitment to excellence and groundbreaking research.”

Meer voor ‘gouden driehoek’

Zijlstra pleit ook voor Europese inzet om de ‘gouden driehoek’ van onderwijs-onderzoek-innovatie meer impulsen te geven. ” In order to stimulate a knowledge triangle of (higher) education, research and innovation The European Institute for Innovation and Technology (EIT) has been set up. I am looking forward to the first Strategic Innovation Agenda which the EIT is currently working on.

I believe it is important that the European modernisation agenda, which will be presented in September, is closely aligned to the EIT’s strategic agenda. Furthermore, the knowledge triangle perspective should be one of the guiding principles of the next generation of programmes, so that (higher) education is not left out whenever research and innovation are addressed, and vice versa.”

HO op de hoogste EU-agenda

Europa en Nederland moeten daarbij vooral niet zich verschuilen achter de dijken, zo blijkt uit de brief aan de Eurocommissaris. Sterker nog, het kennisbeleid en zijn mondiale blik naar Buiten moeten een agendapunt worden voor de Europese Raad van regeringsleiders, die wordt voorgezeten door Herman van Rompuy.

“If our ambition is to create more world-class universities, an outward-looking perspective is crucial. We should reach out to partners in third countries and create platforms and partnerships wherever there is a need or a niche, thus positioning our universities and using the EU’s economies of scale. In my view, the new institutional framework in the area of EU external policy that was created by the Treaty of Lisbon could be instrumental to this ambition.

It would be interesting to further explore possibilities for integrating the European education and research agenda into the EU’s external policies and for facilitating international cooperation in the areas of education and research through the extensive network of EU representations all over the world.

We should make full use of the fact that education is at the heart of the Europe 2020 strategy. In terms of governance, this means that progress towards our goals is now monitored as part of the “European semester”. One the decisions the European Council took in this context was to hold regular thematic discussions on issues relevant to the success of the strategy. To raise the political profile of the debate on modernisation, I would suggest that -at an appropriate moment- a thematic discussion on this issue be envisaged in the European Council.”

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