22 SES 08 C, Policy, Management and Governance in Higher Education
The aim of the paper is to discuss the current move towards a higher education excellence scheme: What are the new expectations for the Center of Excellence Scheme in a European context?
As Hellström emphasizes in a research article on dimensions of appraisal in the Center of Excellence in Research scheme, the term "excellence has become a watchword for goal setting and assessment in science and technology policy" (Hellström 2011). In the field of higher education, the concept has also been used broadly in its commonsense meaning for a longer period of time. With the excellence arrangement also being implemented in the field of education, we find little analytical work available concerning details, operationalizions and systematization on the dimensions of value present in academic evaluators’ use of the excellence concept. This paper aims to highlight and discuss some empirical findings that may be a step on the way towards such an empirical foundation.
As a backdrop for the study, we consult our own previous studies on the Bologna Processes in European countries (Aamodt, Carlsten 2007), the Evalution of the Quality Reform in Norway (Michelsen and Aamodt 2006), as well as relevant publications on the European Arena (e.g. Danish Tech. Institute et al 2012, EU Commission 2012, Eurydice 2012, Gosling and Hannan 2007, HEFCE 2005; 2011, Högskoleverket 2008a; b, Raaheim and Karjalainen 2012).
The review of substantial theories enables a look at new measures in a historical perspective. We present our identification of similarities and discrepancies in excellence models categorized in an analytical framework that allows for insights into continuation or disruptive tendencies in higher education governance. As such, the outcome of what is considered new in the current approaches is mirrored against what has been there before.
As noted above, a common denominator in these studies is the challenge of developing verifiable criteria for distinguising excellence in higher education. Our research questions focus on comparisons and contrast in application criteria, specifically on indicator-based criteria for documenting existing educational quality. We examine how different countries develop procedures and guidelines for meeting innovation criteria used when assessing visionary center plans. We include findings on stakeholder positions on how such a prestige arrangement is designed to strengthen the quality development and dissemination of knowledge of educational methods conducive to learning.
Aamodt, Per Olaf; Carlsten, Tone Cecilie (2007): The extent and impact of higher education curricular reform across Europe: The Bologna reforms in the field of history in Finland. CHEPS 2007 Carlsten, Tone Cecilie and Per Olaf Aamodt (2013): Evaluering av etablering av ordning med Senter for fremragende utdanning (SFU) NIFU rapport 10/2013. Danish Technological Institute, Technopolis, 3s, ICF (2012): PLA on Excellence In Teaching in Berlin, 19-21 September 2012. Summary report. EU Commission (2012) Press Release: High level group to focus on quality and excellence in teaching. IP/12/976 Eurydice (2012): Excellence in Higher Education Teaching in Europe. Report from the Eurydice Network September 2012. Gosling, D. & Hannan, A. (2007). Responses to a policy initiative: the case of Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. Studies in Higher Education, Vol. 32, No. 5, pp. 633–646. Hansen, Morten Balle og Vedung, Evert (2010) Theory-based stakeholder evaluation. American Journal of Evaluation 31(3) 295-313 HEFCE (2005). Centres for excellence in teaching and learning. Outcomes and funding allocations. 2005/17. HEFCE (2011). Summative evaluation of the CETL programme. Final report by SQW to HEFCE and DEL. Hellström, Tomas (2011): Homing in on excellence: Dimensions of appraisal in Center of Excellence program evaluations. In: Evaluation 17 (2) 117-131. Högskoleverket (2008a). Utmärkelsen framståande utbildningsmiljö 2007. Centres of Excellent Quality in Higher Education 2007. Rapport 2008:1 Högskoleverket (2008b). Centres of Excellence in Higher Education 2008. Högskoleverket, Rapport 2008: 38 Michelsen, Svein and Per Olaf Aamodt (2006): Evaluering av Kvalitetsreformen. Sluttrapport. Norges forskningsråd, Rokkansenteret, NIFU STEP. Raaheim, Arild and Asko Karjalainen (2012): Centres of excellence in university education Finland 1999-2012. An Evaluation. Finland: FINHEEC 13/2012.
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