Modernisation of Higher Education in Europe: Access, Retention and Employability"

  • Eurydice report: “Modernisation of Higher Education in Europe: Access, Retention and Employability”



  • According to a new Eurydice report published today, not enough countries are using the information they collect on higher education to improve their universities and the opportunities they offer for students.



  • The report “Modernisation of Higher Education in Europe: Access, Retention and Employability” investigates what governments and higher education institutions are doing to widen access to higher education, increase the number of students that complete higher education (retention), and give guidance to students on entering the labour market (employability).



  • More than 30 countries took part in the survey – all EU Member States, with the exception of Luxembourg and the Netherlands, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, Norway and Turkey.




  • The report shows that:



  • – Although many countries collect information about their student populations, data analysis is often not linked to concrete objectives (such as ensuring access of disadvantaged students to higher education), and many countries are unaware if their student population is becoming more diverse (see Figure 1).



  • – Very few countries (BE(fl), IE, FR, LT, MT, FI and the UK (Scotland)) have set targets for improving access to higher education for people from underrepresented groups such as low-income backgrounds.



  • – About half of European higher education systems have bridging programmes for entrants not coming directly from secondary education (BE, CZ, DK, DE, IE, FR, AT, PL, PT, SI, SE, SK, UK, IS, HR) and award higher education credits that recognise the value of students’ prior learning (also ES, IT, LI, FI, NO). A clear geographical divide is visible regarding measures to widen access to higher education, as they remain most prevalent in the north and the west of Europe.



  • – A significant number of countries do not systematically calculate completion and/or drop-out rates. This includes countries that have policies addressing retention and completion, but clearly lack basic data to analyse the impact of these policies.



  • – In most countries, higher education institutions have to submit information on employability (e.g. employment rates of their graduates, how they develop the skills necessary for their graduates to find a job) for quality assurance. However, graduate tracking information is as yet rarely used to develop higher education policies.



  • – Using quality assurance to promote crucial policy goals for wider access and better retention and completion rates can help in monitoring students’ progress, and identify how higher education institutions (e.g. universities, colleges) use this information to feed back into a cycle of quality enhancement.



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