Friday, 30 October 2015

Preview of Tour Theme 1: Internationalisation of Higher Education

Internationalisation is a common topic. Both Dutch and Flemish universties offer a substantial proportion of degree programs in English. As such their internationalsation activities will be of interest to UK readers.

This theme will be led by Beth Beasant and David Law. The first set of topics are general context – with a focus on the sector:

  1. What is the impact of globalisation/internationalisation on the HE sector in your country? 

  2. Have universities in your country had to face the challenges of an internationally competitive market?

  3. In general, how has the HE sector in your country developed an international strategy?   In terms of international student recruitment, what are the key markets?  Does partnership with overseas institutions, including (perhaps) the development of overseas campuses, play a significant part?

These will be followed by some specific context topics – with a focus on the individual institution

  1. Do you consider your university to be an “international” university?  If you do, what reasons do you have for your response?  If you do not, would your leaders want the university to become an “international” university? 

  2. Do you have an internationalisation strategy or is this a strand or theme incorporated in other areas of business?

  3. How is your institution responding to the internationalisation agenda – what factors are the key ones that you feel your institution must respond to? 

  4. Is student mobility within the EU an aspect of internationalisation so far as your university is concerned?

  5. Does government policy influence the approach taken by your university?  What key areas does ‘Study in Holland’ focus on? 

  6. In terms of internationalisation, what is the focus for your institution: student recruitment, research collaborations, exchange, commercial partnerships?

  7. Do you have a key focus for your international student recruitment?  What are the key markets, and what subjects do your students want to study?

  8. Has technological innovation impacted on how you work with students and staff who are not based on your campus?

Of course if there are resources you think we should read, then please let us know in the comments.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Why I Joined: Els Braeken

In this series of posts introducing the tour team, let us start with the tour coordinator. So over to you Els...

I grew up in a small Flemish speaking village (called Bree), near the border to the Netherlands. I went to school in Bree and continued my education at the University of Antwerp, studying for a degree in Socio-Educational Care Work.  I have always been fascinated by the fact that though we are neighbour countries and have a shared history, there are still so many cultural differences. 

I am interested in exploring how these cultural differences have had an impact on their Higher Education system.  Also, how do institutions in both countries respond to the challenges coming their way, for example the scale of transformation in the economy and society, the increasing uncertainty and complexity in the world?  How do administrators and managers find their way and navigate through a much more complex system, how do universities deal  with challenges such as globalisation and internationalisation.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Why are the Netherlands and Belgium Interesting (for HE Professionals)?

This study tour is looking at these two Higher Education systems, but why are they of interest to HE professionals.

Read on below....

Interesting Facts about Belgium

Belgium is a federal monarchy comprising three regions: Flanders (Dutch speaking), Wallonia (French speaking), and a German speaking region. 
Belgium is a founder member of the European Union (EU) and hosts the headquarters of both the European Commission and NATO in Brussels.  Several hundred international institutions and corporations make Belgium a major European player.

The university system in Belgium is fairly vast with a significant number of foreign students studying international courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. Higher education (hoger onderwijs / enseignement sup√©rieure) in Belgium is provided by universities, university colleges (hogescholen / hautes √©coles) and government-recognised institutions, although only universities can award PhDs. The governance of the universities falls to the Flemish and French-speaking regions. However, many courses are taught in English. 

 Interesting Facts about the Netherlands

The Netherlands has the highest population density (493 inhabitants per square km - water excluded) of any European country with over 1 million inhabitants. Worldwide, only Bangladesh and Taiwan, among major countries, have a higher density of population.

The 'Netherlands' means "Low Countries" in Dutch. About half of its surface area is less than 1 metre above sea level. Its highest point is 321 metres (1,053 ft) above sea level.

Amsterdam is the official capital of The Netherlands by constitution since the 19th century. The Hague (Den Haag) is the seat of government and first capital since 1584.

The higher education in the Netherlands is known for its high quality and its international study environment. With more than 2,100 international study programmes and courses, it has the largest offer of English-taught programmes in continental Europe.

Dutch higher education has a binary system, which means that students can choose between two types of education: research-oriented education, offered by research universities or higher professional education, offered by universities of applied sciences.

Tour Themes

Two quite distinctive cultures, one language and neighbours. The Netherlands and the Flemish region of Belgium provide an interesting study of cooperation and diversity in higher education. Both systems have also internationalised and offer many courses in English as well as Dutch, and face similar challenges to the UK in terms of being European, post-industrial economies.

The study tour will seek to gain an understanding of the organisation and make-up of the two higher education systems, focusing on three broad themes:

  1. Internationalisation
  2. The impact of research and changes in research funding
  3. Managing Student Employability

We will be writing about each of these themes over the coming weeks. As always, we look forward to sharing our findings with you all.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Introducing the Study Tour

The Association of University Administrators exists to advance and promote the professional recognition and development of all who work in professional services roles in higher education, and to be an authoritative advocate and champion for the sector.  Established over 50 years ago, the AUA is an inclusive membership-led professional body with more than 4,500 members both in the UK and around the world. 

The international study tour is arranged on an (usually) annual basis by the AUA’s International Higher Education Network for the benefit of members and to strengthen international links between the AUA and overseas organisations.   

This study tour will visit the Netherlands and Belgium (Flanders) between 10 and 13 November 2015, making a number of institutional visits in Leiden, Delft, Amsterdam, and Antwerp. It has three objectives.

  • To undertake a fact finding mission and produce a report on the Dutch and Belgian (Flemish) HE systems which incorporates analysis of similarities and differences and considers ways of sharing best practise; 
  • To enable participants to gain an international perspective on aspects of HE decision making, policy and practise; 
  • To allow tour participants the opportunity to challenge their existing notions about HE and undertake research in a non-UK environment.

A key deliverable will be a report of the findings, along with associated dissemination activites. This blog will also give a commentary on the development of the tour: before, during and after.

Between now and the tour, we'll be introducing the team and giving you a preview of the issues we will be looking at, and why the Netherlands and Belgium (Flanders) are such interesting HE systems to study.

Friday, 16 October 2015


Welcome to the blog of the Netherlands/Belgium Study Tour run by the International Higher Education Network of the Association of University Adminstrators.

Further information on the study tour and the original call can be found here.

In researching topics prior to the study tour, and later in preparing the report, we will be posting links to useful websites and reports on Dutch and Flemish HE.

So please keep an eye on the blogposts and the sidebar. We hope that this blog can continue to be a useful resource after the Study Tour has ended.

We will of course be writing about the post-tour dissemination activites.

And this is where you can help us. If  you know of any useful resources on Dutch or Flemish HE we can link to, please use the comments below to alert us of it.

And keep up to date on Twitter and contribute by using the hashtag #auadutch- the widget on the sidebar will display the latest tweets.

And of course, many, many thanks.

Posts and updates on the tour, its purpose and its findings will be posted here in due course.