Current projects

Odysseus project 'Higher Education Governance'

The overall aim of the project (supported by an Odysseus grant of the Research Foundation - Flanders) is to increase our scholarly understanding of governance in the field of higher education. This understanding will improve through in-depth, theory-based investigations of aspects of governance, but practical aspects (improving policy and institutional practice) will be addressed as well. The aim should be understood in the context of higher education being a field of study, qualified as an a-theoretical community of practice. Much has been learnt through the largely a-theoretical approaches, but much can and should be done to connect the field of higher education better to the appropriate disciplines. The governance theme lends itself easily for connections with (organizational) sociology, political sciences, public administration and business administration.

There are two forms of governance of interest in the proposed research programme: system governance and institutional governance. System governance is to be understood as the process of authoritative direction and control at the higher education system level. Through deeming eyes, one can see a development in many countries of “less state and more market” and of multi-actor governance. The key questions on this theme are: how have governance arrangements changed over time in (European) higher education systems and why? What are the impacts of these changes? And, what would be effective governance arrangements?

The concept of institutional governance alludes to elements of internal decision-making within higher education institutions’ governance bodies, like senates and councils, executive management and boards as well as to broader issues like strategy development, institutional responses to global and local challenges, organizational change processes, and institutional positioning and identity-formation. Key questions are: how do higher education institutions strategise and position themselves? How do higher education institutions legitimate their choices and actions? What are the impacts of institutional governance arrangements on academic performance?

Project duration: May 2013 - April 2021

Towards a European Framework for Community Engagement of Higher Education

An international project has been launched to address a new priority on the EU’s policy agenda for higher education: community engagement of universities. The project (entitled ‘TEFCE - Towards a European Framework for Community Engagement of Higher Education’) will develop tools to help universities to better interact with their communities at the local and regional level in order to address pressing social needs. The project is led by the Institute for the Development of Education (Croatia) and Technische Universität Dresden (Germany) and will gather leading researchers, universities, local authorities and university networks from seven EU Member States.

The project will first take stock of existing research and initiatives that have attempted to measure the community engagement of universities. The project will then develop a “toolbox” that could assist universities and policymakers at the EU level in fostering greater community engagement and that could provide a meaningful measurement of an institution’s level of community engagement.

The project’s expert team will include researchers from the University of Twente (Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies), Ghent University (Centre for Higher Education Governance Ghent), Dublin Institute of Technology, University of Rijeka (Faculty of Philosophy) and the Institute for the Development of Education. Universities and local authorities from the cities of Dresden (Germany), Dublin (Ireland), Enschede (Netherlands) and Rijeka (Croatia) will be piloting the developed toolbox, and additional expertise will be provided by the European Consortium of Innovative Universities, the Global University Network for Innovation (represented by the Catalan Association of Public Universities) and the Public Policy and Management Institute from Lithuania.

Project duration: January 2018 - December 2020

Steering Higher Education for Community Engagement

The project Steering Higher Education for Community Engagement (SHEFCE) has been launched in October 2020 to help European universities and policymakers improve community engagement in higher education. Universities’ community engagement is understood as the university’s partnerships with external stakeholders to address societal challenges.

The project is led by the Institute for the Development of Education (Croatia) and gathers 23 partners/associate partners from six EU Member States. SHEFCE is a follow-up to the project TEFCE – Towards a European Framework for Community Engagement in Higher Education that has developed a toolbox to support universities and policymakers in supporting community engagement. The SHEFCE project will have four main outputs: 1) university action-plans for community engagement at five partner universities (in Belgium, Ireland, Croatia, Spain and Austria); 2) policy recommendations for system-level support for community engagement in higher education in five countries and at the EU level; 3) a European online platform for community engagement in higher education with resources and tools to support universities and communities; and 4) piloting a European university-community engagement ‘heatmap’ to help universities learn from good practices at universities in their country as well as in other countries.

CHEGG’s role in the project is to act as experts in the field of higher education policy and community engagement. The SHEFCE project is co-funded by the European Commission’s Erasmus+ programme.

Project duration: October 2020 - August 2023