Issuu on Google+

European Research, Innovation and Education

February 2013 – 2013/02

Contents SEEN FROM BRUSSELS More or less

2

RESEARCH Research-related results of last Council meeting

3

DOSSIER: Full costing at universities: state of play

4

> Publications

5

Biennial report on the achievements of Joint Programming Initiatives

5

High quality research through partnership

5

Switzerland ranks fifth in 2012 ERC Proof of Concept results

5

ERC grantees willing to work with ‘early-career top US talent’

6

INNOVATION How to bring ideas to the market

7

Focus: European Innovation Partnerships

8

> Publications

10

Strategy on cybersecurity

10

Consultation on revised competition regime for technology transfer

10

EDUCATION Council concentrates on key education reform areas

11

Focus: A new milestone towards a European ranking

12

> Publications

14

€6 billion committed for youth unemployment

14

Positive impact of eTwinning

14

Quality assurance in doctoral education

14

INTRA MUROS Popping the ‘Eurobubble’

This edition of the SwissCore Synopsis as well as previous editions are available on our website. SwissCore - Contact Office for European Research, Innovation and Education 98, rue du Trône in 1050 Brussels • Tel. +32 2 549 09 80 • Fax +32 2 549 09 89 infodesk@swisscore.org • www.swisscore.org

15


SEEN FROM BRUSSELS More or less On the one side, the British Prime Minister David Cameron in his debated Europe speech from 23 January 2013 - the day after the fiftieth anniversary of the Elysée Treaty between Germany and France - had announced that he would hold an in-out referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union (EU) in 2015 if the Conservatives won the next elections. He had called for a full EU treaty renegotiation and said that the EU should abandon its commitment to an ‘ever-closer union’. On the other side, the German President Joachim Gauck in his remarkable Europa-Rede from 22 February not only explained why we need mehr Europa, but also showed a way how to re-establish the trust of the citizens in Europe. The question of ‘more or less Europe’ was also on the table of the European Council (Council) from 7 to 8 February. The Council reached an agreement on the next Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF), i.e. the budget for the EU from 2014 to 2020. Overall, the Council agreed on €958'988 million for appropriations for commitments making for 1.00% of the EU gross national income. The Council therewith not only significantly lowered the proposal from the European Commission (EC), but also opted for an lower budget than the previous one for the first time in history. Most commentaries concluded that national selfishness probably won the day over European

interest or “austerity has won, Europe has lost”. The European Parliament (EP) announced it will not accept the MFF as it stands. The Council agreement on the MFF indicates that the budgets for Horizon 2020 and Erasmus for All will be lower than the ones proposed by the EC. However, the Council states that smart and inclusive growth corresponds to an area where EU action has significant value added and underlined that these programmes have a high potential to contribute to the fulfilment of the Europe 2020 Strategy. Most importantly, the Council stated that the funding for Horizon 2020 and Erasmus for All will represent a real growth compared to 2013 level and indicated the growth of the expenditures falling under competitiveness for growth and jobs over the next seven years. As the Council did not specify the budget at programme level, the exact consequences for the budgets for Horizon 2020 and for Erasmus for All are not known yet. The EC now is working on a new proposal specifying the budget at programme level given the agreement of the Council to be presented again to the Council. Thereafter the EP will have to indicate whether it gives its consent or not. In other words, it remains to be seen how much more for knowledge this less for Europe will mean.

Gauck Europa Rede Council conclusions on MFF (pdf) EC proposal for MFF (pdf)

28 February 2013 SwissCore

2


RESEARCH Research-related results of last Council meeting The Competitiveness Council (Council) met from 18 to 19 February 2013. Among the research-relevant items debated were the Annual Growth Survey and the opinion thereon of the European Research Area Committee (ERAC), open access to scientific information, the ‘Entrepreneurship 2020’ action plan, joint programming, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) and the relation between the European Union (EU) and the European Space Agency (ESA). The agreement on the unified patent court was formally signed. On the Annual Growth Survey, the Council underlined the importance of research and innovation for the Europe 2020 strategy. The recommendations focused on increasing the support to Small and Medium Enterprise (SME), strengthening initiatives bringing research results to the market and enhancing public support to research and innovation by a better use of public procurement and Public-Private Partnerships (PPP). The policy debate on open access to scientific information resulting from public-funded research was held following the publication of a communication entitled ‘Towards better access to scientific information: Boosting the benefits of public investments in research’ by the European Commission (EC) on 23 July 2012. The Council supported EC’s proposal on offering full access to publications resulting from EUfunded projects. On open access to research data, however, the Council insisted on the importance of taking intellectual property rights, security and

ethical issues and data protection rules into account. At the Council meeting, the EC confirmed that it will, for specific themes, run experimental pilot actions requesting open access to research data in Horizon 2020. A third important topic concerned the relationship between the EU and the ESA, of which Switzerland is a Member and currently holding the Presidency together with Luxembourg. The Council adopted a series of conclusions on the EC communication on ‘Establishing appropriate relations between the EU and the ESA’ of 14 November 2012. In this communication, the EC highlighted its commitment in space-related research activities for the years to come. Acknowledging this, the Council stressed the need for close cooperation and coordination of activities between the EU and ESA and asked the EC to clarify and report regularly on the evolution of the relations between the two. Finally, the Council discussed the ‘Entrepreneurship 2020’ action plan published on 9 January by the EC (see Synopsis 2013/01) and adopted recommendations, focusing among others on the promotion of entrepreneurial education, the reduction of administrative burden for business and measures facilitating the creation of start-ups. The discussions on joint programming initiatives were limited to the presentation of the report by the High Level Group on Joint Programming (see page 5). The Council will meet from 29 to 30 May and address among other the renewal of the Ambient Assisted Living Programme and the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership.

Council press release (pdf)

28 February 2013 SwissCore

3


>

RESEARCH

Full costing at universities: state of play With a report on ‘Financial sustainable universities – Full costing: progress and practice’ released on 11 February 2013, the European University Association (EUA) summarised the recent developments of the use of full cost accounting at European universities. The report is the last of a series of studies by EUA on this topic. Implementing full costing according to the report leads to a more autonomous, sustainable and efficient management of universities. The most immediate drivers behind the introduction of full cost accounting are the ever stronger competition for public and private funding, the diversification of income streams, the evolution of a university’s mission, the increased trend towards co-funding and the call from public authorities for more transparency and accountability for the distribution of funds. The report points out that the acceptance of full costing is closely linked to the national context in which universities operate and is tailored to the structure and the specific needs of an institution. On this last point, the report of EUA strongly insists that different institutions need a different implementation of full costing and gives a series of examples stemming from mostly comprehensive universities across Europe. For example and according to EUA’s data, contracts with private partners, for both research and teaching activities, amount to around 6% in average of the universities’ income and can go up to 25% for some institutions in Europe. Moving to a new costing methodology, however, is a costly endeavour which requires various steps to be taken into account and a ‘one-size-fits all’ approach is not appropriate. The reports notes that funding mechanisms of public bodies and programmes, such as the Euro-

pean Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7), which allowed a higher reimbursement rate based on the declaration of real costs, were a strong motivator for change. The fact that FP7 influenced the funding strategies of many national bodies further strengthened this trend. Nevertheless, many universities argue that the move to full costing is primarily motivated by the will of having more control on the allocation of resources, a better pricing of their activities to business partners and the possibility to more effectively steer the university’s strategic orientation. The level of implementation of full costing strongly differs across countries in Europe. A leading country in this sense is the United Kingdom (UK), whose institutions have moved to full costing in the early 1990s, as concerns had risen on potential cuts in government’s spending as well as on rising costs of a university’s activities. This move has been supported by the government early on with the development of the Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) methodology, which has been adopted by all UK universities and led the UK research councils to change their funding allocation mechanisms. While there is overall a strong trend towards the introduction of full costing at universities across the continent, the speed of conversion to this accounting methodology strongly depends on the incentives put in place at European and national level, as switching to full costing requires a large financial investment and the training of human resources. In this sense, the outcome of the debates on the reimbursement of full costs in Horizon 2020 will certainly affect the accounting models the universities will tend to follow.

EUA study (pdf)

28 February 2013 SwissCore

4


>

RESEARCH

> Publications Biennial report on the achievements of Joint Programming Initiatives On 7 February 2013, the High Level Group on Joint

to more efficiently address the societal challenges.

Programming (GPC) released its biennial report on

GPC also calls for a widening of participation in JPI

the work and achievements of the Joint Program-

and asks for a broader inclusion of member states

ming Initiatives (JPI). Since 2009, ten JPI have

and associated countries in Europe. The report

been launched and some have already undertaken

also gives an analysis of the ten JPI and lists the

significant work in the establishment of strategic

initiatives that have been taken so far. Switzerland

research agendas and joint activities. The report

is active in four JPI, namely the ‘Health, Food and

insists on the need of enhancing the synergies

prevention of Diet related diseases’, the ‘Neuro-

between JPI and Horizon 2020 in order to maxim-

degenerative Diseases/Alzheimer's’, ‘More years,

ise the impact of the European research effort and

better lives’ and the ‘Antimicrobial resistance’.

JPI biennial report (pdf)

High quality research through partnership On 29 January 2013, the Max Planck Society

promote and support partnerships between re-

(MPG) released a white paper together with eight

gions, regional research actors and leading re-

other leading research organisations and stake-

search organisations with the goal of creating and

holders from Europe, including the Ecole Polytech-

developing viable and sustainable scientific institu-

nique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and the League

tions of international excellence. According to the

of European Research Universities (LERU), on the

paper: “teaming can help to transform the dynam-

inclusion of ‘teaming and twinning’ mechanisms in

ics of research in less-research intensive parts of

Horizon 2020. The document on `Teaming for

Europe, but if it is to be effective, a common polit-

excellence – Building high quality research across

ical vision is needed. [...] such a goal can only be

Europe through partnership’ cites best practices to

met with realistic expectations and long-term

illustrate the potential benefits of teaming. Team-

commitment, especially in the prevailing economic

ing and twinning schemes in Horizon 2020 aim to

conditions.”

MPG white paper (pdf)

Switzerland ranks fifth in 2012 ERC Proof of Concept results On 5 February 2013, the European Research

Swiss Federal Institute for Technology Zurich

Council (ERC) released the results for its 2012

(ETHZ) and the University of Berne with two and

Proof of Concept (PoC) call. With five PoC in 2012,

one

and a total of nine since the creation of the fund-

€150’000 are awarded to ERC grantees only. This

ing scheme in 2011, Switzerland is the fifth most

funding allows successful researchers to test the

grants

respectively.

The

PoC

grants

of

successful country in grant numbers behind the

marketability of their research results and evaluate

United Kingdom (23), the Netherlands (20), Israel

their business potential (commercialisation). The

(10) and France (10). Most of the PoC awarded so

applications to next PoC call can be submitted until

far went to the Ecole polytechnique fédérale de

24 April 2013 for the first deadline and 3 October

Lausanne (EPFL) with six grants, followed by the

2013 for the second.

ERC press release (pdf)

28 February 2013 SwissCore

5


>

RESEARCH

ERC grantees willing to work with ‘early-career top US talent’ On 16 February 2013, the European Research

referred to this agreement as a `win-win situation’

Council (ERC) presented the results of the call for

since “ERC grantees will benefit from a new influx

expression of interest for ERC grantees so as to

of talented NSF researchers, and they in turn will

evaluate their interest in hosting scientists from

gain further experience with leading scientists and

the American National Science Foundation (NSF).

their ERC teams in Europe.” Through this initiative,

The call was launched last November and over 760

the NSF scientists can be part of ERC-funded

ERC grantees replied positively. The respective

teams for six to twelve months. The NSF has now

agreement was signed by NSF Director Subra

launched a call for expression of interest to all

Suresh as well as the European Commissioner for

eligible post-doctoral scientists and career award-

Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghe-

ees. In the course of this spring, a matching be-

gan-Quinn at the EUROSCIENCE Open Forum

tween ERC grantees and NSF researchers should

(ESOF) held in July 2012 in Dublin in the presence

take place. As of February 2013, there are 24 US-

of ERC President Helga Nowotny. The NSF Director

nationals who benefit from ERC grants.

ERC press release (pdf)

28 February 2013 SwissCore

6


INNOVATION How to bring ideas to the market Realising that Europe leads in basic research, but fails at bringing research results to market, the European Commission (EC) strongly insisted on setting the focus on innovation for the next Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 at a public event on 28 January 2013. While the final architecture of Horizon 2020 is taking form, the exact instruments allowing to bridge this gap still need to be shaped in an optimal way. It is with this regards that the Directorate General for Research and Innovation of the EC commissioned two studies. Both looked at if and how, in the past, results of EU funded research projects found their way to successful commercialisation. The aim was to learn from these past experiences and use them in particular for the implementation of the ‘Industrial Leadership’ pillar of Horizon 2020 and in the specific case of Key Enabling Technologies (KET). The two studies will take the conclusions of the conference into account and will be published later this year. The first study ‘How to convert research into commercial success stories? – An analysis of EU-funded research projects in the field of Nanosciences, Nanotechnologies, new Materials and new Production technologies (NMP)’ examined the pathways from research activities to market-oriented exploitation for a sample of thirty projects, distinguishing impact factors assigned to structure, strategy, culture and framework conditions. The findings demonstrate that most of the projects need several additional stages of technology scanning and spillovers before they reach the market. The most effective impact factors come from the framework conditions, emerge in the later stages of the innovation processes (i.e. exploitation) and (often) cannot be controlled. Some obstacles depend on structural characteristics and are often pre-set. Success of market-oriented ex-

ploitation is not about who is involved, but how. Technological development without organisation development is not a good basis for successful marketoriented exploitation. The second study, ’Enabling technologies and open innovation: Analysis of conditions for transfer of knowledge’, followed a reverse engineering approach, tracing back outcomes to their causes. The analysis showed that in successful projects all activities are interlinked and imply constant interaction and feedback loops between each other: research starts at the same time as interaction with users, designers and engineers, exploring market opportunities, protection of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), prototyping and industrial demonstration, product trials and sales, innovation management and industrialisation. Each innovation followed its own unique path, but some commonalities could be observed for the whole NMP group, which are that the duration of the innovation cycle depends on the sector, rather than the technology level. It is faster when there are no other barriers to the market such as extensive testing requirements or when regulation actually support the innovation like in the case of green technologies. Short development cycles and intrinsic first-to-market strategies are possible, but the interaction with designers, users and engineers and the existence of first enthusiastic users that introduce product to the market are important success factors. An interesting outcome of this more quantitative study was that the presence of charismatic leaders and intrinsically highly motivated teams is one of the most important success factors. Both studies agreed on a series of recommendations, namely that EC activities should be more industry-related and that the EC should keep an eye on the projects at the end of the contract 28 February 2013 SwissCore

7


>

INNOVATION

and look at perspectives for a better market exploitation of the results. To improve this last point, measures requesting a stronger involvement of the industry in the programming phase, following the Public-Private Partnerships

(PPP) approach, were put on the table. It was also proposed to evaluate proposals not only on scientific excellence but to include a business plan in the selection criteria.

Conference agenda (pdf)

Focus: European Innovation Partnerships February has seen the adoption of various steps for the future development of European Innovation Partnerships (EIP). But what are EIP? And where do they come from? EIP have first been described in the communication of the European Commission (EC) on the Europe 2020 Innovation Union Flagship Initiative in 2010. They have been created in order to address the societal challenges Europe is facing and the weaknesses, bottlenecks and obstacles in the European research and innovation system that prevent or slow down good ideas from being developed and brought to market. EIP aim at pooling resources of all relevant actors at European, national and regional level throughout the whole innovation chain, i.e. from research to market. They should also “streamline, simplify and better coordinate existing instruments and initiatives and complement them with new actions where necessary”. All EIP must demonstrate clear European addedvalue and the EC clearly stressed that it will limit their number. They offer a platform to coordinate actions undertaken under different programmes, but are not funding instruments themselves. So far five EIP have been launched on Active and Healthy Ageing (AHA), on Agriculture, Productivity and Sustainability (APS), on smart cities, on water and on raw materials. The EIP are all organised slightly differently and have achieved different steps of development. The APS, for example, has recently communicated the composition of its Steering Board, which is in

charge of establishing a Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) defining the strategic orientation of the EIP and identifying stakeholders and potential bottlenecks relevant to the EIP. The Steering Board will further nominate a high level ‘Sherpa’ group in charge of drafting the SIP. For the APS, the composition of the board was published on 8 January 2013 by Dacian Cioloş, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development and Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science who will co-chair the group. The group will be composed of 42 members, such as ministers of member states and representative of major stakeholder organisations. APS aims at bringing major stakeholders on agriculture, the bio-economy and science at European, national and regional level together. It will ensure a sustained dialogue between science and practice and facilitate information exchange between all actors active in the sector. The raw materials EIP is slightly more advanced. It has been officially launched on 29 February 2012 and steering and implementing structures are well in place. The first meeting of its Steering Board and the Sherpa group took place respectively on 12 February and 23 January 2013. The orientations of the SIP, the composition of the working groups, the structure of the EIP and sought an agreement on the scope and objective of the EIP were discussed. The broad objectives of the EIP focus on new innovations facilitating the access to and the extraction of raw materials. To achieve this, the EIP will offer an ex28 February 2013 SwissCore

8


>

INNOVATION

change platform to all major stakeholders in the field. The Raw Materials EIP expects to deliver its SIP on 17 July and will launch a public call for commitments in September to allow all potential stakeholders to express their concrete intention to contribute in the implementation of the EIP priorities and actions identified in the SIP. Finally, in October 2013, the EC is expected to release a communication on the SIP. The most advanced EIP is certainly the AHA, which has been setup as a pilot in early 2011 and communicated its SIP on November 2011 already. The SIP presented five specific actions, focusing on prevention, screening and early diagnosis, care and cure and active ageing and independent living. The EC reaffirmed its commitment to the EIP AHA in its communication released on 29 January 2012. The communication foresaw the creation of six action plans, communicated on November 2012 and which will be implemented in early

2013. Swiss institutions are present in the action plan on integrated care. The action plans can, however, still evolve and a second invitation for commitment opened on 20 December 2012 and closed on 28 February 2013. The European Parliament (EP) examined the dossier recently as well and adopted its position on 1 February 2013. The EP underlined the necessity to include gender issues in the EIP, to more strongly consider the national differences and welcomes the focus areas communicated by the SIP. Finally, the EIPs on smart cities and on water follow similar development tracks, with the latter having adopted its SIP last December. The call for commitment to the action groups, which define the action plans, has been launched and closes on 4 April 2013. It is thus expected that the concrete actions of the EIP will be defined throughout the year.

EP report on AHA (pdf) EC press release (pdf) EIP on raw materials

28 February 2013 ďƒ“SwissCore

9


>

INNOVATION

> Publications Strategy on cybersecurity On 7 February 2013, the European Commission

National governments should organise prevention

(EC) published a communication on ‘Cybersecurity

to cyber incidents and attacks and collaborate with

Strategy of the European Union: An Open, Safe

the private sector and the general public. The EC

and Secure Cyberspace’. This strategy should help

also stresses the importance of ratifying the Buda-

to address the challenge of cybercrime which has

pest Convention on Cybercrime, an international

become an international issue. Five strategic prior-

treaty seeking to address cybercrime by harmonis-

ities are defined, generally aiming at reducing

ing

cybercrime

international

among nations. The specific objectives mentioned

cyberdefence policy. The EC underlines the signifi-

in the communication are in line with Horizon 2020

cance of good collaboration between the member

which will also develop tools and instruments to

states to ensure cybersecurity which is in the

fight criminal and terrorist activities targeting the

common responsibility of the EU and each state.

cyber environment.

and

developing

an

national

laws

and

increasing

cooperation

EC communication (pdf) Budapest convention

Consultation on revised competition regime for technology transfer On 20 February 2013, the European Commission

consultation was launched in December 2011 and

launched a public consultation on a proposal for

showed, that a majority of stakeholders consid-

new competition rules for the assessment of tech-

ered the present system as largely satisfactory.

nology transfer agreements. Through a technology

But also suggestions for incremental improve-

transfer agreement, a licensor permits a licensee

ments in the two instruments of the current re-

to exploit patents, know-how or software for the

gime, i.e. the block exemption regulation and the

production of goods and services. The aim of this

Commission Guidelines, were made. All stakehold-

proposal is to update the current regime in order

ers are invited to submit their views until 17 May.

to strengthen incentives for research and innova-

The new regime is expected to be adopted by April

tion, to facilitate the diffusion of intellectual prop-

2014.

erty and to stimulate competition. A first public EC press release EC website on consultations

28 February 2013 ďƒ“SwissCore

10


EDUCATION Council concentrates on key education reform areas On 15 February 2013, the Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council (EYCS) met in Brussels and addressed the following three topics: the response of EYCS to the communication on ‘Rethinking Education: Investing in skills for better socio-economic outcomes’ of the European Commission (EC) published on 20 November 2012; policy debate on ‘Education and Skills for Jobs, Stability and Growth’, in the context of the European Semester and in particular the education aspects of the 2013 Annual Growth Survey (AGS); state of the negotiations on Erasmus for All. EYCS adopted conclusions highlighting priority areas for education and training reforms with particular emphasis on improving overall skills and competence levels in order to boost employability and reduce youth unemployment. The member states are invited to: restructure their education systems, for instance creating closer links to labour market; improve Vocational Education and Training (VET) and focus it on potential growth areas or areas with skills shortages; identify young people at risk of early school-leaving and provide individualised support; reduce the number of low-skilled adults through access to adult training and lifelong learning; optimise ICT-supported learning and access to open educational resources. The Council conclusions also acknowledged the intention of the EC to support an ‘EU-level Alliance for Apprenticeships’ and the creation of a ‘European Area for Skills and Qualifications’. Some controversy arose concerning the extent to which Ministers for Education should examine progress in education and training made by member states and be involved in formulating Coun-

try-Specific Recommendations (CSR) resulting from the AGS. Some member states wished that the EYCS examines both overall and individual member state's progress, while others preferred a less prescriptive procedure. But most member states considered that the exchange of information and good practices was important and useful. Furthermore, a policy debate on ‘Education and Skills for Jobs, Stability and Growth’ was held, during which the ministers highlighted the actions implemented in their countries to improve skills and employability in response to the CSR from the 2013 AGS. EYCS not only experimented with an ‘innercircle format’ allowing for a more open and interactive debate amongst the ministers, but the Irish Presidency also invited two guest lead speakers. Andreas Schleicher, Deputy Director for education at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), addressed the global challenge facing Europe in terms of competition from North America, Asia, etc., as well as the evidence of what skills employers are looking for and examples of good practice from Europe. David Puttnam, Chancellor of the UK's Open University, underlined that education is not a luxury and pointed out that there is a gap between our classrooms that seem to not have changed in hundred years and the fast technological developments dramatically changing the outside world. He feared children would blame education since it did not prepare them for the new challenges. Most member states agreed that VET must be upgraded and positively valued and that the distinction between academic education and VET should disappear. The importance of mastering basic skills was also underlined. The outcome of this debate will be reported to the European Council from 14 to 15 March, which is responsible to issue guidance to member 28 February 2013 SwissCore

11


>

EDUCATION

states regarding the 2013 national reform programmes. Finally, the state of the adoption of Erasmus for All was briefly discussed. Albeit the significant common ground between the European Parliament's (EP) and the Council's positions, the following main areas of divergence remain to be solved in the trialogue: the name of the programme, the retention of the current sub-programmes, detailed objectives for each chapter and the division of competences between EC and Council (where to list the indicators and how to use delegated act). Discussions

about the concrete set-up of a Master loan guarantee system will also take place in the trialogue. The agreement on the Multi-annual Financial Framework 2014-2020 by the European Council on 8 March was mentioned, but no specific figure for Erasmus for All was put forward awaiting a more precise proposal for the budget repartition within each heading by the EC (see page 2). The Irish Presidency announced that the first meeting of the trialogue between Council, EC and EP would take place on 19 February followed by a second meeting mid-March.

Council press release (pdf) Council conclusions (pdf)

Focus: A new milestone towards a European ranking The implementation phase of UMultirank was officially launched during the conference ‘Rankings and the Visibility of Quality Outcomes in the European Higher Education Area’ held in Dublin from 30 to 31 January 2013. The launch of U-Multirank was combined with a wider discussion on quality in higher education. Before entering into the details and highlighting the main concerns about this project, let us first recall why the U-Multirank project has been designed. Given the fierce world-wide competition between Higher Education Institutions (HEI) and the bad results of the European HEI in many rankings, the Directorate-General Education and Culture (DG EAC) of the European Commission (EC) funded the ‘U-Map’ project, with the aim to propose a multidimensional classification of the different HEI profiles. The need for ‘stakeholder-oriented European quantitative and qualitative comparisons’ was also highlighted by the 2008 French Presidency Council Conclusions on typology and rankings of the higher education systems. U-Map was conducted from 2005 to 2010 and coordinated by the Center for Higher

Education Policy Studies (CHEPS) of the University of Twente (Netherlands). Based on the work of the Carnegie Foundation, the project aimed at better understanding the mission and profiles of HEI in order not to compare ‘apples with pears’ like it is the case in well known global rankings such as the Shanghai Ranking or the Times Higher Education Ranking. U-Map prepared the ground for the European multidimensional ranking project ‘U-Multirank’ in the sense that it sorts the very diverse HEI in a way they are comparable. Whereas U-Map is a descriptive tool mapping the profile of a HEI, the aim of U-Multirank is to show how good they perform. The U-Multirank project has been conducted from 2009 to 2011 by the Consortium for Higher Education and Research Performance Assessment (CHERPA), the coordinators of which are CHEPS and the Centre for Higher Education Development (CHE) in Gütersloh (Germany). The first phase of the project was dedicated to the design of a multidimensional ranking system for HEI and was largely inspired both by the dimensions identified in UMap and the CHE multidimensional rank28 February 2013 SwissCore

12


>

EDUCATION

ing model, which is a detailed ranking of German HEI based on 34 different indicators. The second phase of the project consisted of a feasibility study on a sample of around 150 HEI. U-Multirank is based on five dimensions: teaching and learning, research, knowledge transfer, international orientation and regional engagement. Each dimension contains a set of indicators, to be selected by the users according to their needs and interests. The multidimensional approach aims at ensuring that the diversity of HEI can be described more precisely than only looking at research-intensity as is the case with most current rankings. The final report of U-Multirank - concluding that the project was feasible was presented in June 2011. The ‘Modernisation Agenda for higher education’ published by DG EAC in September 2011 pleaded for an implementation of UMultirank. As a result, DG EAC published a call for tender in spring 2012 for the implementation of the project. The result of the call was announced in November 2012: CHEPS-CHE will further coordinate the project, with a budget of €2 million at their disposal until the end of 2014 and, most certainly, another €2 million for up to 2016.

As announced at the launch conference in Dublin, the objective of CHEPS-CHE is to rank 500 HEI until February 2014. Three tracks to recruit institutions were announced: a) all institutions that participated in the feasibility study will be

approached again; b) an ‘open dialogue policy’ was announced, meaning that any interested institution can contact the consortium; c) the project’s associated stakeholders organisations – Business Europe, European Student Union (ESU), International Research Universities Network (IRUN), Universities of Applied Sciences Network and Conference of European Schools for Advanced Engineering Education and Research (CESAER) – will also help recruiting institutions. Throughout the conference, U-Multirank was promoted as a user-driven tool, which will benefit the students, as well as a self-evaluation tool for the institutions. The two main concerns that were pointed out are the following: a) since the institutions will have to provide the data themselves, the workload is high as this data is usually not collected; b) there are doubts about the reliability and comparability of the data provided, i.e. there are doubts if different institutions have understood the elaborate questionnaire the same way. Finally, the ultimate goal of UMultirank was questioned. Whereas the purpose is meant to be improving quality and increasing transparency, for some it is still not clear how exactly it will truly contribute to it. Despite the enthusiasm of the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth Androulla Vassiliou and the commitment expressed by the Irish Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn, it is so far difficult to predict the extent of the institutions’ commitment in the project.

U-Multirank (updated website) Speech of Commissioner Vassiliou

28 February 2013 SwissCore

13


>

EDUCATION

> Publications €6 billion committed for youth unemployment Within

Framework

measures set out in the Youth Employment Pack-

agreement reached by the European Council on 8

the

Multi-annual

Financial

age published on 5 December 2012 (see Synopsis

March (see page 2), €6 billion have been reserved

2012/12), i.e. the creation of a quality framework

for measures dedicated to boost youth employ-

for traineeships, the set-up of a EU-level Alliance

ment. €3 billion will come from the European So-

for Apprenticeships, the implementation of the

cial Fund and another €3 billion from a dedicated

Youth Guarantee by the Employment Council.

‘Youth Employment’ budget line under heading 1b,

These €6 billion will be distributed only among

i.e. ‘Economic, social and territorial cohesion’. The

regions with levels of youth unemployment above

objective is to support the implementation of

25%.

Council conclusions on MFF (pdf)

Positive impact of eTwinning On 15 February 2013, the European Commission

advantages listed are ‘making new friends and

published an independent study on the ‘impact of

networking across Europe’ and ‘acquiring new or

eTwinning on participating pupils, teachers and

improved ICT skills’. For pupils, the gains per-

schools’. The study, based on evidence through

ceived are in collaborative and team working as

data review, school case studies and a survey of

well as learning about other cultures. Finally, the

around 6’000 teachers (1 Swiss participant), high-

study points out that in order for eTwinning to

lights that the programme does not only have a

have a systemic impact on a whole school, the

positive impact on teachers, but also on pupils and

direction and more than one class need to be

schools in general. For teachers, the two main

closely involved.

EC study (pdf)

Quality assurance in doctoral education On 26 February 2013, the European University

tion, via the increasing establishment of doctoral

Association (EUA) presented a report on ‘Quality

schools, has resulted in processes assuring and

Assurance in Doctoral Education’. The report pre-

enhancing the quality of doctoral training. Howev-

sents the results of the ‘Accountable Research

er, although many processes are in place, a large

Environments for Doctoral Education’ (ARDE) pro-

number of reforms are still on-going. The area

ject, which was conducted by the EUA, together

where satisfaction with existing processes is the

with the

Academic

lowest and where the most concrete reforms are

Schools in Poland, Universities Austria and the

planed is ‘supervision’. In Ireland for example, a

University College Cork in Ireland. The aim of the

new code of practice for research supervision has

project was to discuss how quality assurance for

been implemented and supervisors have access to

doctoral education has been implemented in Euro-

trainings. Quality assurance in doctoral education

pean universities. The report highlights that the

will remain a priority area for the EUA, with this

rather recent professionalisation of doctoral educa-

report representing a first important milestone.

Conference

of

Rectors

of

EUA ARDE project

28 February 2013 SwissCore

14


INTRA MUROS… Popping the ‘Eurobubble’ Even in the era of Easyjet, TGV and Eurolines, Europe remains vast and diverse, which is why as a Swiss student who grew up next to a farmhouse and a forest, my discoveries of European diversity have been guided by an esprit d’escalier more than once in the past. Coming to Brussels for a traineeship was another pleasant surprise in this regard. Many of our Swiss readers will have a hectic Brussels in mind that consists of a crammed bus transfer from the airport, long jargon-laden meetings, a quick Belgian fermented specialty and a flight back on the same day, quite possibly with a thick staple of business cards in the pocket. Indeed, Brussels is a peculiar place and especially so when one chooses to stay here for a longer yet limited amount of time and join the ranks of stagiaires, interns and trainees. ‘Us Brussels rookies’ are numerous and, one must say, well-organised: Germanspeaking round-table on Tuesdays, mingling with the Brussels workforce on Thursday nights at Place du Luxembourg – in short ‘to plux’ – and on the remaining nights, there’s always a sufficiently

relevant evening event with free drinks and food. However, coming to work in the ‘Eurobubble’ is much more than superficial hedonism among bureaucrats. It also means to meet a workforce of young, charismatic and driven characters that share a charming certain optimism about Europe. Surely, this is not always appreciated outside Brussels, and it might just be due to the barrage of abbreviations and smart policy concepts that are as valuable outside Brussels as a fishery policy adviser on a fishing vessel out in the Atlantic. But it remains an awfully exciting and rewarding experience, regardless whether one’s stay here lasts a few months or years. After all, the bubble is far better than I was told, and maybe, a pinch of politics with our after work drinks would benefit every European capital. If not, one can always come back – even if it is only to visit the formerly prime sight of Brussels, the Atomium, or to enjoy the hidden cultural treasures of the city. by Ueli Staeger, Student Trainee at SwissCore from 1 September 2012 until 28 February 2013

Belgium for dummies Eurobubble

28 February 2013 SwissCore

15


SwissCore Synopsis February 2013