19 November 2015 | EQAF Paper

The learning paradox in higher education

Marieke Janssen


Learning from the animal kingdom we stipulate that the mission for higher education institutions (HEI) that want to persist beyond the 21st century is simply: “how not to be a dinosaur, a frog or a turkey”. By transforming themselves into learning organization HEIs can adapt in order to fulfil this mission and thus survive all possible futures.

In this paper we first characterize the ideal learning organization. Secondly we explain the learning paradox and the difficulties for a HEI to become a learning organization. We then summarize some ideas on how to resolve this learning paradox and we explore how HEIs can learn to learn.
We conclude that there is a growth potential for those HEIs that succeed in bringing their theoretical knowledge into practice within their own organizations and thus transforming themselves into learning organizations. Within EURASHE’s working group “Quality in HE” we agreed on the desirability of further exploring this domain.


This paper was presented at EQAF and reflects the views of the named authors only.

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