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Global Competences in Higher Education -A Need to Have

SLIDE ONE (TITLE) Thank you for inviting me today to share your discussion on the absolutely important issue of global competences in education What you are doing at Globale Gymnasier is impressive – it is bold, and it is necessary, and as a representative for Danish higher education, I am here to learn Furthering global competences in higher education is part of Aarhus University’s working plan for the next 5 years, as are furthering academic digital literacy and innovation in learning We consider these our 3 prioritized lenses for new quality learning in higher education, and to us learning from Global High Schools is important from at least 2 perspectives: 1) to learn from discussions on potentials and challenges in introducing new competences into curricula and to be included in how your work on new competences influence ways of teaching and training Higher Education and High Schools form a value chain – your students will for at very large part become our freshmen in a few years, their talents and competences will be our core value, and we educate future High Schools teachers and have to live up to the High Schools’ demands for teaching competences In this way we are mutually interdependent, linked in a common endeavour 2) My second perspective is how knowledge about the way global competences are included in High School teaching may help Higher Education to bridge the endeavour to educate for global and participatory citizenship (which may be coined as a Humboldian trajectory for the 21 st Century) and global massification of HE, as targetted in both university, national and international strategies for internationalisation of HE. To me, global competences, as described in Veronica Boix-Mansilla’s matrix, represent one way of establishing preconditions for internationalisation of education - and also for preparing students for international employability.

SLIDE 2 [STUDY START 2013] These day university campuses are buzzing with freshmen and we are in a quite festive and stressed mood, as are the freshmen – all of them, no doubt 2013 we have the largest student intake ever, and this is a dominant trend – globally.


At Danish universities we are still able to give students the benefits of both quality education and good oncampus-experience. Quality education and on-campus-experience are trademarks for high ranking universities and are not to have all over the world – at New Delphi University a vast number of students are accepted on campus, but as auditoriums and class rooms a too few, they will have to take classes online. Last September I attended OECD’s Higher Education Programme conference (IMHE) and the overall message for this global forum for education was, that globally, youth cohorts ready for higher education, are growing in numbers these years, as is educational mobility - just as fast as higher education can cater for a global market, tuned for new competences and new workforces We educate to meet global challenges, and also to enhance our position on global markets. The Danish Ministry for Science and Education has launched a number of strategies, with the common target to create ”the best educated generation, ever”. On the other hand global recession threatens an entire generation with unemployment, a fair percentage of which is highly trained and considering education a democratic right. So, a second message at the IMHE conference was that lack of will or resources to meet a claim for education is as destabilising as is unemployment.

SLIDE 3 [comment in Information 28.9., by Hanne Smidt, senior advisor for EUA] And a third message at last year’s IMHE conference was, that global massification in education calls for diversification of competences and talents, rather than stratification. This is an important message, also for the collaborations between high schools and universities: Diversification means that we need to further more than traditional disciplinary curricula and academic talent development. Though we need to build on this, we have to add new competences, to look at our disciplinary traditions and knowledge production through new lenses and recognize that talent is a both broad and differentiated field.

SLIDE 4 [Global Education] The second paragraph (in red) of the Council of Europe’s North-South Centre-definitions of Global Education from 2002 could be seen as a definition for a study programme, e.g. comparable to the Australian Global Education programme for teachers’ training, but it could just as well be interpreted as a set of lenses to translate existing programmes, course material and curricula – that is to introduce new competences for new talents


SLIDE 5 [UCL Global Education] Looking at Higher Education institutions offering global competences, University College London springs into eyes. UCL is going through a major transition, prioritizing interdisciplinary research and programmes, new teaching paradigms and initiatives for community engagement and knowledge exchange. The Education for Global Citizenship-initiative offers honours for students taking 2 weeks courses in 2 of 5 fields: Global Health, Grand Challenges, Sustainable Cities, Incultural Interaction, and Human Wellbeing The initiative is not a regular study programme, but rather offers students the opportunity to add new competences and perspectives to their central study field. And to get this on their diploma. Note that the initiative is described through a new learning paradigm, stressing innovation, multidisciplinarity, participatory learning, knowledge exchange and interaction with external stakeholders

SLIDE 6 [Global Competence Matrix] UCL definitely has a framework and an institutional design for the Education for Global Citizenshipinitiative, but they do not in so many words describe a set of competences – which we would have to for both High School teaching and Higher Education Study Programmes Compared, though, to the Global Competences Matrix, the similarities are detectable. To me, the competence matrix very much aligns with new learning and teaching paradigms, also in higher education. Having said so, I would like to stress 2 defining features of particular interest: -

For one, the competence to take action take the matrix beyond what we normally consider good academic teaching, and the competence for taking action is, I think, crucial to a certain talent I would like to further through university education, providing supervision for students to create designs for action, and having their performance assessed by external stakeholders – as suggested, also, by Veronica Boix-Mansilla in Educating for Global Competence

An initial part of quality education is to enhance the student’s consciousness of being an integral and active part of society, as a student -

The other – very – important feature I would like to stress, and which I will bring home to my university, is that the matrix is designed for a multitude of disciplines, stressing the importance of disciplinary and methodological rigor – from which interdisciplinarity springs, as does informed and valuable action and interactions


This latter, I think, is important to keep in mind – for both teachers and students, as well as for education managers such as me: when introducing new competences, we need to stress, that this will not erase an entire canon of knowledge, but will give us new lenses to re-invent or translate or activate this canon. SLIDE 8 The competence matrix and its applicability give us the opportunity to work at the core of teaching – developing disciplines and curricula and re-inventing them in engaging and relevant ways The consequences of the matrix for teaching formats also gives us a rich opportunity to work in teachers’ teams, this is, no doubt, new to many of you – it is to the major part of university teachers: challenging, but highly rewarding and of benefit to the disciplines themselves. Lastly, what is of utter importance, is that educational managers, if new learning spaces are put on the agenda, will have to both prioritize them with as many resources as possible and acknowledge and merit the teachers for such efforts in enhancing quality teaching.

SLIDE 9-12: Internationalisation and student mobility Will global competences change a mindset? And will it enhance internationalization of HE and student mobility? Whereas, globally, student mobility is increasing, European – and Danish – students do not seem too keen to study abroad. One key performance indicator in the Danish Ministry’s new strategy for internationalization in higher education is that by 2020, 50% of a youth cohort should study abroad for part of their study time. This is more than a doubling of the average rate for 2011/12 and a little less than a doubling of university students going abroad 2011/12 LERU, League of European Research Universities, suggests in their Advice Paper from this Spring, that mobility should be better imbedded in educational networks or in joint and double degree programmes, thus securing the academic benefit of internationalization and still keeping the valued study experience of living in another culture. The Danish Ministry also suggests joint and double degrees to enhance mobility, as well as prioritized mobility windows in study programmes. I overall agree with these means and that they will secure academic quality in studies abroad; but I also fear that we may enhance our own inclination for cultural homogenity and the concept of universal academia more than we will look for competences and capacities for coping with difference and unknown perspectives, not to say the abilities for handling uncertainties, knowledgably… Additional to the figures for student mobility, I could add that a survey on study intensity and motivation by the Danish think-tank DEA, published this year, showed that less than 3% of the Danish students interviewed had considered employment abroad.


Global competences in higher education, manuscript  
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