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2010 OECD Higher Education Conference
EUROPE: Students face 'new and sad reality'
Today's students do not want to "go down in history as the first generation of modern Europe that can expect to 'benefit' from fewer opportunities than the previous one," Bert Vandenkendelaere, chair of the European Students' Union, told the OECD higher education conference in Paris. Threatened by significant age wage gaps, high dropout rates, rampant graduate unemployment and limited support in starting a home or family, students fear their future may be bleaker than that of their parents.
GLOBAL: Technology and innovation in higher education
Innovative solutions are required to mitigate the budget cuts brought on by the current financial crisis, but innovation is not always synonymous with hi-tech, speakers told the OECD's 2010 higher education conference in Paris last month. The need to redress the bias of research to the detriment of teaching was a recurring theme, as was a call for greater social responsibility in producing well-informed, responsible citizens.
GLOBAL: Push towards innovative funding methods
Shrinking state budgets and financial shortfalls linked to the global recession are forcing universities to devise new means of raising revenue, notably through increased interaction with the private sector, according to participants at last month's OECD higher education conference in Paris.
US: Huge university 'doing more with less'
When you meet California State University Chancellor Charles B Reed for the first time, you think you've met him before. It takes a few minutes to realise that Reed bears a striking resemblance to English actor Bob Hoskins. He has the same round appearance, direct gaze and pugilistic stance, as if he's ready to do battle. And it has been a battle over the past two years, as Reed has slashed costs at the university and deflected criticism and outcry as he tried to absorb a US$600 million blow in the form of state budget cuts.
UK: Run universities like supermarkets: consultant
A senior manager with the London-based strategy and insight consultancy SHM has suggested that universities and other higher education institutions be run like supermarkets. Paul Gillooly presented this provocative idea to an incredulous group of government officials and university leaders at the OECD's Institutional Management in Higher Education general conference in Paris in September.
ICELAND-IRELAND: Universities merge post-bubble
Universities in Iceland and Ireland expanded dramatically during the 1990s boom, in part to promote regional development and absorb more students. But when the economic bubble burst, experts recommended a reduction in the overall number of institutions through painful mergers, as Denmark had already done.
RUSSIA-POLAND: Post-Soviet higher education challenges
"I'm not saying things were better under the Soviet Union, but there is definitely a problem with access to higher education in Russia," Tatiana Gounko, assistant professor at the University of Victoria in Canada, said at the OECD's Institutional Management in Higher Education conference held in Paris in September.
BAHAMAS: Development role for small island universities
Small island states, which are increasingly vulnerable to global problems, need to have their universities play a stronger role in national development. "A small island nation has limited tools for driving its own development," said Janyne Hodder, former president of the College of the Bahamas and an administrative board member of the International Association of Universities, at the OECD's 2010 higher education conference, Higher Education in a World Changed Utterly: Doing more with less.
ISRAEL: Innovation lacking in universities
Israel may have transformed itself over the past decade into one of the world's vibrant economies, but innovation training is nonetheless sorely lacking in the nation's universities, according to Dr Milly Perry, director of the research authority at the Open University of Israel and CEO of OPMOP Ltd Technology Transfer Company.
JAPAN: Private spending on higher education rising
Private spending on university education in Japan is high at 67.5%, according to a recent report released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on public education investment in 28 member states. The OECD's Education at a Glance 2010 report indicated that the average for all nations was 30.9%, illustrating that in Japan private spending on higher education plays a vital role in supplementing low public funding.
GLOBAL: Benefits (and costs) of social engagement
As universities face increasing budget cuts and see their ivory-tower image attacked, many now espouse increased involvement in community and global issues. But although this 'social engagement' drive has numerous supporters, others wonder at the cost and the long-term impact on universities, especially in the area of research.
GLOBAL: How higher education can help recovery
Against the background of the most synchronised recession in developed countries in over half a century, the OECD's Institutional Management in Higher Education 2010 general conference focused on how the higher education sector - governments, institutions and individuals - can help contribute to sustainable recovery. Capitalising on the OECD's respected evidence base and drawing on analyses and opinions from some of the world's leading experts, the conference tried to identify ways to achieve higher quality outcomes at a time of increased demand and fewer resources, and examined innovative approaches to meeting the challenges of equity and efficiency.
UK: Austerity challenging the values of universities
Never before have universities faced such remarkable challenges to their fundamental values, said Professor Malcolm Grant, President and Provost of University College London, at the OECD higher education conference last month. During this time of austerity universities must continue to hold true to their values and take a long-term view, positioning themselves for 10 years' time "against the short-term turbulence of immediate change".
GLOBAL: The big challenges for higher education
The mood at the 2010 OECD higher education conference was more self-critical than complaining, according to Richard Yelland, head of the education management and infrastructure division in the organisation's education directorate. "Notwithstanding their good intentions, institutions and systems are not fulfilling their social responsibilities - to nurture research which will address pressing global issues, and equitable access to teaching which is relevant to the labour market and to society," he told University World News.
OECD: Conference shies away from long-term solutions
Many of the solutions proposed by participants in the OECD's Institutional Management in Higher Education conference were short term, palliative measures when the deepest crisis in higher education funding since the Second World War means the sector is in need of a kind of Marshall Plan to save it.
The biennial conference of the Institutional Management in Higher Education programme of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) took place in Paris from 13-15 September 2010. Entitled Higher Education in a World Changed Utterly: Doing more with less, the signature gathering investigated how, in the context of a global recession, higher education can lead the way to sustainable recovery.

There were more than 30 plenary speakers and some 60 presenters in parallel sessions. Discussions ranged across a wide variety of issues, from challenges facing higher education and how tertiary institutions and systems have responded to funding cuts to links between academia and industry, the use of technology and social engagement. Reflecting on the conference, its organiser Richard Yelland described a mood of “self-criticism, an acceptance that despite reform little fundamental change had been made, and that the university model – driven by aspiration to climb up the higher education value chain and amplified by rankings – was still undervaluing higher level vocational education and open and distance learning”.

University World News was a media partner to the conference, and a team of five journalists reported on it, led by Asia Editor Yojana Sharma. Live coverage was provided, a selection of articles were published afterwards, and this weekend’s Special Edition of the newspaper is devoted entirely to the OECD conference. Full details are available on the conference website.
GLOBAL: The train on platform 2010 is about to leave
Nearly 470 people from 62 countries made the OECD's Institutional Management for Higher Education general conference this year its biggest ever. There was a strong turnout from Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, the UK and the US, while Latin America was also well represented, particularly Mexico and Brazil.
GLOBAL: Hot higher education issues
The global financial crisis means that higher education institutions "need to work smarter", said OECD Director for Education Barbara Ischinger, kicking off the three-day Institutional Management in Higher Education conference on 13 September. "We need to ensure institutions play to their strengths."
GLOBAL: Never mind quality, as universities expand
The OECD's general conference, Higher Education in a World Changed Utterly: Doing more with less, identified one of the great challenges of expanding university systems: can higher education provide value while admitting more students and cutting back on spending in a recessionary climate? The problem is that no one knows how to measure the 'value' of higher education.
GLOBAL: The crisis, business and higher education
Joe Astroth wants to be a change agent. As chief education officer of US-based high-tech giant Autodesk, Astroth is playing a leading role in the company's continuing bid to create stronger links between industry and academia. It is a role he relishes. The global recession, Astroth said, has changed the environment facing businesses and universities alike. "The economic crisis has brought us together in an accelerated manner," he told University World News at the 2010 OECD higher education conference in Paris.