Higher Education Reform Dynamics: A Research Perspective

Open to the Public
Nador u. 9, Monument Building
Gellner room
Monday, April 22, 2013 - 10:00am
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Monday, April 22, 2013 - 10:00am to 11:40am

Public Lecture by Peter Maassen

Deputy Head at the Department of Education at University of Oslo

Moderator: Renata Kralikova, PhD candidate at CEU Department of Public Policy

Higher Education Reform Dynamics: A Research Perspective

Video of the lecture available here


About the lecture: Higher education’s (HE) role in ‘the knowledge-based society/economy’ has received growing political attention around the world. The underlying assumption is that more complex and competitive socio-economic and technological global environments require rapid adaptations of national economies to shifting opportunities and constraints. HE is expected to play a central role in this adaptation, since, as the core (public) knowledge sector, it is assumed to link research and education effectively to the knowledge needs of society in general and the private sector in particular. This expectation has been used as a rationale for reforms aimed at stimulating HE institutions to develop more relevant and effective institutional strategies and profiles, professionalize their leadership and management capacity, and provide evidence for the impact of their primary activities. Taking these considerations as a starting point this presentation will consist of two parts. First I will discuss global trends in HE reforms with a special focus on system diversity in HE. Recently diversity has become a central policy issue in Europe’s HE policy arenas, at the European as well as the national levels. Taking this focus on diversity as a starting point, questions that will be discussed in this presentation are: What are the factors behind the emphasis on diversity as a core issue in HE reforms in many countries around the world? How is HE diversity interpreted and promoted? What are the instrumentalisation trends when it comes to the implementation of reforms aimed at stimulating HE diversity? What are the main outcomes of the reforms aimed at stimulating diversity in European HE so far? In the second part I will present the research group (Higher Education: Institutional dynamics and Knowledge cultures - HEIK) at the University of Oslo that I am leading, and two of its basic research projects. First is FLAGSHIP project focusing on the interpretation and use of institutional autonomy in 11 European Flagship universities, and the University of Melbourne. Second is HORIZON project that examines the nature and effects of horizontalisation processes in HE. These concern the horizontalisation of HE governance, the horizontalisation of student learning and the relationship between these two processes.


Peter Maassen is professor in Higher Education Studies at the Department for Educational Research, Faculty of Education, University of Oslo (UiO), Norway. Previously he has been the acting director of the Center for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS), University of Twente, the Netherlands. At UiO he is leading the HEIK (Higher Education: Institutional dynamics and Knowledge cultures) research group. He has been a member of the international panel evaluating the Danish university reforms (2009), and of the Norwegian governmental commission on higher education (Stjernø Commission), as well as of OECD review teams of Japan and Finland. He currently directs a multi-year research project funded by the Norwegian Research Council on “Horizontal governance and learning dynamics in higher education”. He is the editor of the series Higher Education Dynamics (Springer), and has written and (co)edited more than 200 international publications. His latest work includes a book edited with J.P. Olsen entitled “University Dynamics and European Integration”, and an article produced with B. Stensaker called “The Knowledge Triangle, European Higher Education. Policy logics and Policy implications”.