04 May 2015 | Report

Trends 2015: Learning and Teaching in European Universities

Andrée Sursock

Trends 2015 is the seventh in the series of Trends reports published by the European University Association. The main goal of Trends 2015 is to document the universities’ perceptions of the changes that have taken place in European higher education in the past five years particularly in relation to learning and teaching. It is based on a questionnaire to which 451 higher education institutions, from 46 countries (or 48 higher education systems), responded. The respondents represent more than 10 million students or about a quarter of the students enrolled in the institutions of the European Higher Education Area.

Specifically, Trends 2015 seeks to answer the following questions:

– To what extent have learning and teaching moved up as institutional priorities? How extensive has the shift been to student-centred learning across Europe and is this shift supported by national and institutional policies and other measures (e.g. funding, staff development, internal and external quality assurance procedures) ?

– What are the key changes that have affected institutional developments, particularly in relation to learning and teaching?

– How can the findings of this study inform the future priorities of the Bologna Process?

Trends 2015 takes as its point of departure the results of the last Trends report in 2010: It described the 1999-2009 decade as a turbulent one, characterised by a significant set of national policy changes. These changes, for which there was a broad consensus across Europe, affected, among other things the scope of institutional autonomy, funding, and quality assurance. To a large extent, institutional leadership embraced these changes at the same time as important reforms linked to learning and teaching, particularly the Bologna three-cycle degree structure, ECTS, and the diploma supplement were being implemented, in order to develop greater flexibility of learning paths. Thus, the first decade of the 21st century saw major reforms that felt overwhelming at times but nevertheless reflected a sense of shared destiny across the continent as institutions, students and representatives of the Bologna Declaration signatories focused on the launch of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) in 2010.

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