Project: Matching competences in higher education and economy: From competence catalogue to strategy and curriculum development

Acronym Application year Grant Reference number Duration Scope Project status
COMPETENCE 2008 649153.0 SM 145129-2008 3 years Regional finalized
Eligibility period start Eligibility period end Extended until Website Facebook
January 15, 2009 January 14, 2012 http://www.link-competences.org

Project summary

The project „COMPETENCE – Matching competences in higher education and economy: From competence catalogue to strategy and curriculum development” addresses the missing link between HE and economy as one of the most burning issues in the 4 Western Balkan (WB) target countries – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. Across the world economies and societies it is now agreed that knowledge is one of the main resources for social and economic development. In this context, universities take a central role in the competitiveness of any country. The universities, governments and enterprises of the target WB countries generally lack awareness about the necessity of cooperation between HE and economy, and lack methods and instruments for boosting this cooperation. Although most WB universities have been a part of the Bologna process for a number of years, they still have outdated and highly repetitive curricula, outdated teaching methodology and highly structured mono-disciplinary programs that cannot answer the market needs. Focus is placed on the theory, with practical skills and knowledge being neglected and the lack of relevant governmental and institutional strategies and legislation for cooperation between HE, economy and society as a whole. Although all target countries are members of the Bologna process, they are still in the beginning of the process of setting up an education and training system able to support their economic and social development. The need to establish an area of cooperation with EU member countries ready to share their experiences with the key processes for higher education development in Europe, Bologna process and Lisbon agenda, is taken up within the proposed project which enhances a thorough knowledge transfer and a most needed capacity building process in the WB partner countries’ universities. COMPETENCE is aimed at developing and / or advancing procedures and tools for assessing and improving the match between competences developed by institutions of higher education and those required by the labor market in 4 partner Western Balkan countries and will create a tool for an up-to date linking strategy based on European Qualifications Framework.

The methodology created within this project will be based on knowledge transfer from EU partner universities, and adapted to local needs. For each of the countries, Competence and Observation Centers (COC) will be established which will serve as national knowledge transfer and trainings centers for HE institutions, relevant stakeholders and as service centers for their home university institutions. COCs will also have an observatory and documentation function about national strategy developments and processes.

The developed methodology will be tested in 8 pilot study projects. In the end, a Competence Catalogue (a tool enabling to compare the match between competences gained at universities and those needed by economy) will be developed and published on the COMPETENCES web Platform. To demonstrate its usage to the target groups, the results of 8 pilot studies will be put as examples in competence catalogus. Observed from the European perspective, COMPETENCE is aimed at bringing the HE systems of the 4 target countries one step closer to the European Qualifications Framework (EQF), thus also to the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) by providing instruments for “external” quality assurance, (QA) thus connecting the worlds of education and work.

As stated in the Tempus publication “Linking the worlds of work and education through Tempus”, (EC 2007), “cooperation with the world of work is no longer an optional activity for HE institutions. It has become a necessity”. Furthermore, the same publication emphasizes that also the European Commission sets this cooperation as a priority as the main instrument to support HE in the neighboring regions because the governments, as well as universities and enterprises share the responsibility for social welfare and economic growth. The project COMPETENCE directly addresses the following Tempus goals:

  • It supports the integration of the selected 4 countries into the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) - as a part of HE and society goal
  • It contributes to introduction and development of national Quality Assurance Systems in Higher Education (HE) -as a part of governance reform

Objectives

1) To develop or advance methodology and tools for assessing the match between skills and competences developed by institutions of higher education and those required by the labour market in 4 partner WB countries and develop recommendations for curricula adaptation
2) To found four Competence and Observatory Centres (COC) which will serve as a national knowledge transfer and trainings centre for relevant stakeholders and as a service centre
3) To conduct the knowledge/skills/competences analysis based on 8 pilot study projects.

Programme

Programme
TEMPUS PROGRAMME
Subprogramme
Structural Measures- Higher Education and Society

Subject areas

  • University-Industry Links
  • Quality Assurance Mechanisms

Partners

University of Novi Sad, SRB
Jonjaua Ranogajec Contact person, Miklos Biro, Helena Hirsenberger, and Jasmina Biro
University of Zenica, BIH
Darko Petkovic
University of Montenegro, MNE
World University Service Austria, AUT
Vienna University of Economics and Business, AUT
FACHHOCHSCHULE JOANNEUM Gesellschaft mbH, AUT
KA HO SINT-LIEVEN GENT, BEL
University of Girona, ES

Equipment

University of Novi Sad
Title Model Equipment type Quantity Location
Smart board Smart board 87" 16:9 IT equipment – smart board 1 Faculty of technology
Projector Mitsubishi EX200U Audio, Video and Communication equipment – projector and TV 1 Faculty of technology
Monitor Monitor 22" IT equipment – other 2 Faculty of technology
PC with monitor PC-E3300 IT equipment - desktop computer 1 University of Novi Sad - Rectorate
PC with monitor PC-E5400 IT equipment - desktop computer 1 Faculty of technology
PC with monitor PHE-550 IT equipment - desktop computer 1 Faculty of technology
Software Internet software Software 1 University of Novi Sad
Satellite Toshiba Satellite L650-18V Audio, Video and Communication equipment – other 1 Faculty of philosophy
PC for special purpose PC 17-980X 12 GB ddr3, 9500GT, CM Cosmos 850W, Rampage IIIE, LG W2286, dvdrw IT equipment - desktop computer 1 Faculty of philosophy

Activities

1.1. Compil. of exist. metodologies & examples at EU partner univ.
1.2. Compil. of existing metodologies & examples in SEE (if existing)
1.3. Analysis synthesis and interpret. of data (In Graz/Austria)
1.4. Develop. of gen. comprehensive manual f. development of comp. catalogues& questionnaire prep.
1.5. Presentation of results & best practices from Girona, Gent and Graz (in Zenica)

2.1. Analysis of placement/location on UM level
2.2. Selection process for recruitment of COC manager
2.3. Definition of organisational requirements of COC
2.4. Equipping of COC
2.5. Study visit to Graz & Girona
2.6. 2 Trainings for COC staff in Skopje & Novi Sad
2.7. Activity forecast/Business plan for 3 yrs

3.1. Selection & identification of 8 target study programs & of respect. stakeholders from relevant econ. sector (2/particip. WB country)
3.2. Adaptation of general Manual, preparation of specific Manual for development of comp. catalogues for each selected study program, adaptation & prep. of questionnaire
3.3. Conducting 8 pilot studies
3.4. Analysis & interpret. of study result
3.5. Creation of feedback system for curriculum development/analysis of syllabi of pilot study programs (with 3.6, in Gent)
3.6. Workshop on strategy develop. for better linking of 8 target study programs with the world of work/Syllabi analysis (with 3.5, in Gent)

4.1. Analysis of comp. catalogues used at EU partner univ.
4.2. Adapt. of existing comp. catalogues to methodology adapted for SEE & to study results
4.3. Develop. of web based comp. catalogue (web mask)

5.1. Dissem. thr. print. mat.: Publish. of gneral & specific manual questionnaires, information Flyers etc.
5.2. Dissem. thr. COMPETENCES web Platform: Establishment, maintainance and update
5.3. Dissem. thr. multiplication: Trainings for other univ. and business comm.
5.4. Dissem. thr. events and other activities (continous info and awarenessraising events for business & polit. stakeholders, other printed & web mat, networking with other projects, etc.)

6.1. Planning financial sustainability thr. takeover of costs for COMPETENCES web Platform and COC staff by local PCU
6.2. Develop. synergies with other running projects in WB countries
6.3. Creating nat. & internat. networks with academic, business and political partners and stakeholders
6.4. Defining recommend. for adopt. of curricula at PCU 6.5 Ensuring sustainability thr. strategy development

7.1. Quality control & monitoring of project implementation & management plan of project
7.2. Quality control & monitoring of COC & staff
7.3. Quality control & monitoring of results: manuals, study results, COMPETENCES web platform, trainings etc.
7.4. Internal & external eval.
7.5. Develop. of monitoring tools for long-term impact

8.1. Coord. of partner & act. implem.
8.2. Legal issues & contract.
8.3. Budgetary issues & contract
8.4. Reportung to EU

Resources

Resource title Resource type Keywords Authors
Workshop Skopje - Competence Focus Group Report Questionnaire Competence, workshop Rupert Beinhauer
Abstract
While quantitative methods deliver results, which can be statistically analyzed and easily interpreted, they are usually not very powerful in providing researchers with initial ideas in the explorative phase of a study. Qualitative methods and especially focus group interviews have proven to be very useful to do exactly that. A focus group is a form of qualitative research in which a group of people are asked about their attitude towards a product, service, concept, advertisement, idea, or packaging. Questions are asked in an interactive group setting (preferably a round table) where participants are free to talk with other group members. Focus groups provide researchers with initial ideas in the exploratory part of a study, they can be useful in the process of interpretation and evaluation of results and situations and they can produce further research questions. In the COMPETENCE project we used focus group interviews to ask experts a number of questions, which need to be resolved before continuing. With these interviews we also aim to specifically analyze those specific and general competences, which are most important for the involved interviewees and their respective fields and to include those in the next research step - the survey. As an additional advantage of the method, the country researchers conducting the interviews get a better insight into the mindset of the interviewees and a good feeling for how much they already know about the topic and in which way the next steps can be planned. Considering the absolute novelty of the topic in the Western Balkans and the fact that the help of professors and specialists - exactly like those interviewed - is of utmost importance, this additional benefit cannot be overestimated. In our project we use the material derived from focus groups as explanatory background on which we build our quantitative research, in the form of fully structured questionnaires. Thus, we integrate them into our project as a part of our research strategy.The specific project relevant information delivered by the focus group interviews can be described as follows: • Information, which help to understand competence based teaching/learning/thinking in different institutional settings • Information, which help to understand experts perceptions of students and the competencies they need and the gaps between the university and industry. • Information, which helps to understand "cultural" differences (regional, national, institutional) and relate these to other research results • Information, which helps the local project coordinators to introduce competence based learning in their university. Setup: In each of the involved countries a moderator used an interview guideline to ask questions and to set the discussion in motion. Ideally there were 5-6 focus group members and one experienced moderator involved. The whole interview was recorded with a voice recorder or similar tool and put to paper (transcribed). The most important answers (which we call keywords) are located and highlighted in the text and translated to English. These keywords are collected for each question and written in a table. The table is compared by the work package leader with the results of the other groups, showing similarities and differences between the focus groups. The whole process of the focus group interview was described by a step by step checklist, which included the following points: • Ideal setup are 5-6 participants and a moderator around a round table. Usually the interview will not last longer then two times 45min, with a 15 min break. Plan for 2 hours. • Participants must have a specific experience with the topic: preferably experienced professors and administrators who are involved in the design of curricula or courses. • The following would be considered an ideal list of participants: 2 professors or administrators, 2 employers, 1 graduate, 1 student or decision maker • An explicit interview guide must be used: A detailed guideline including the questions to be asked can be found below. It has to be used to assure comparability. • The interview needs to be moderated and focused: While allowing space for interaction, the moderator always needs to get back to the guideline and the questions (the focus). • The interview needs to be recorded and transcribed in its whole. • The most relevant statements (keywords) need to be highlighted in the text and to be translated to English (result: ~ 2-3 pages of important statements) • The translated keywords are listed in a table - the prepared table must be used. • The tables will be compared and analyzed by the work package leader Each of
The Methodology of Competence Questionnaire methodology, competence, graz, Rupert Beinhauer, Bernadette Frech. Rene Wenzel
Abstract
Higher education increasingly takes into account the needs of its stakeholders, as defined in the Bologna Process. Competence based learning in higher education supports this process by involving relevant stakeholder in the development of curricula. Both, students and teaching staff, are asked to deal with the shifting circumstances. Before the Bologna Process was implemented students were used to the classical way of teaching, but with the change of mentality it is the task of the academic staff to indicate changes in the didactic process clearly. New evaluation methods have to be explained, evaluated and adjusted. The cooperation with the students will become more and more important, as the feedback of students become more and more valuable in order to improve the quality of proposed changes. Other stakeholders such as the industry and graduates are also invited to contribute to this process. In a structured approach, stakeholders can be invited to take an active part in the curriculum advisory board deciding on further development and possible changes in all university curricula. These changes have only one goal: to increase the employability of the graduated students and to reduce the gap between the academic world and the professional world. Within the Competence project, which is funded by the Tempus Programme of the European Commission, a methodology to improve the quality of higher education and replace old paradigms with new approaches. Curricula can now be developed not only with your experience but also with the help of international experts in this field, which are also experienced in the transfer of knowledge. The Competence Methodology: The competence methodology is mainly based on the proven methodology of the LLP project (Leonardo da Vinci) MISLEM founded by the European Commission. The Competence methodology comprises of eight steps, which are: 1. Preparing and conducting of focus group interviews: Focus groups interviews are held in order to detect specific and generic competences. The first stage of this exploratory study was to formulate two separate interview-guides (one for graduates and one for employers). Grounded in themes and issues identified in the international project MISLEM the interview guide consists of open-ended, qualitative research questions. You can find the interview guide in annex 1. Conducting the focus group interview the moderator uses an interview guideline to ask questions and to set the discussion in motion. Ideally there are 5-6 focus group members and one experienced moderator. Participants must have a specific experience with the topic. An optimal list of participants comprises of two professors or administrators, two employers, one graduate and one student or decision maker. The involvement of students offers a broader picture of the theme. The focus group interviews are then transcribed and the most important statements are translated to English. 2. Analysis of focus groups: This task is undertaken to distinguish between generic and specific competences. While specific competences serve as a basis for the compilation of the questionnaire, generic competences are matched with results of the focus interviews of three other Balkan states and compared with other European studies. 3. Compiling of a questionnaire: In this step, two questionnaires which are required for the execution of a quantitative survey are compiled: one for employers and one for alumni. The questionnaire includes items for evaluating specific as well as generic competences that are relevant for the employability of an alumnus. More precisely the main objectives of the questionnaire are to: ï‚· Explore graduate perceptions of the quality of their educational experiences. ï‚· Explore employer satisfaction of relevant undergraduate study programmes. ï‚· Measure employer perspectives of graduates" core discipline-specific knowledge and skills. ï‚· Identify graduate perspectives of the degree to which Employability Competencies are taught at undergraduate level. ï‚· Test the extent to which core discipline-focused knowledge and skills acquired in relevant study programmes were used by graduates in the course of their employment. ï‚· Test the extent to which the Employability Competencies acquired in relevant study programmes were used by graduates in the course of their employment. ï‚· Measure the extent to which discipline-focused skills and abilities were considered by graduates and employers to be of value for graduate career advancement within their current or future workplace. ï‚· Measure the extent to which Employability Competencies were considered by graduates and employers to be valuable for graduate career advancement within their current or future workplace. ï‚· Determine graduate and employer opinions of how proficient graduates were in utilising core discipline-focused knowledge and skills. ï‚· Determine graduate and employer opinions of how proficient graduates were in utilising Employability Competencies. The design of the questionnaires is based on the questionnaires of the MISLEM project, which were successfully applied in this project, but will be adapted for the specific and generic competences of the involved institutions. Both questionnaires can be found in the annex 2. Two pilot studies are conducted in all countries, after which the questionnaires is refined. 4. Execution and analysis of quantitative survey: The quantitative
Competence – Alumni questionnaire Questionnaire Competence, Alumni, Questionnaire
Abstract
This questionnaire is part of the large EU-funded research project "COMPETENCE" in which our university, [university] participates. The questionnaire is designed to assess how well the university education have prepared recent graduates for their current jobs as well as for their future career. The questionnaire is divided into six themes: Introduction, specific knoweledge, competencies, work-related skills, conclusion and background questions. The primary objective is to find out whether recent graduates are utilizing and applying the knowledge and skills which they have acquired in their study program and to what degree such knowledge and skills are considered important for their current job and future career development. The information you provide in this questionnaire will be treated confidential. Your answers will only be reviewed by members of the research team directly involved in the project. Please answer the questions according to your experiences with [programme] at [university] which you have recently completed even if you have completed more then one programme. If there is a particular question which is not applicable to you or which you do not understand, please do not answer it and proceed to the next question.
Competence – Employers questionnaire Questionnaire Competence, Employers, Questionnaire
Abstract
This questionnaire is part of the large EU-funded research project "COMPETENCE" in which our university, [university] participates. The questionnaire is designed to assess how well the university education has prepared recent graduates for their current jobs as well as for their future career. The questionnaire is divided into six themes: Introduction, specific knoweledge, competencies, work-related skills, conclusion and background questions. The primary objective is to find out whether recent graduates are utilizing and applying the knowledge and skills which they have acquired in their study program and to what degree such knowledge and skills are considered important for their current job and future career development. The information you provide in this questionnaire will be treated confidential. Your answers will only be reviewed by members of the research team directly involved in the project. Please answer the questions according to your experiences with one employee who you directly supervise and who has recently completed his or her education of [programme] at [university]. If there is a particular question which is not applicable to you or which you do not understand, please do not answer it and proceed to the next question.
Competence Based Thinking Manual Manual / Handbook / Guide Competence, Thinking, Manual Rupert Beinhauer (FH JOANNEUM), Bernadette Frech (FH JOANNEUM)
Abstract
Even before the beginning of the 21st century academic education had been moving away from the traditional knowledge-based approach towards more competence-based teaching. Recently this process has become even more of a preoccupation. With the introduction of the Bologna process, many EU universities have experienced increased interest from the professional and commercial sectors for their interests to be included into the academic environment. In an increasingly competitive global market for higher education universities have had to listen to their company colleagues more than ever before. As a result, universities have developed initiatives to adapt their academic teaching to the requirements of industry, in order to ensure that their graduates are the most employable, and to increase their competitiveness in the international education market. As a result a new form of curriculum development has arisen, which has focussed on finding the relationship between university education and the competences needed by the graduates in their later careers, by defining exactly which competencies need to be included in the respective courses. This new competence-based approach is nowadays one of the most discussed topics in curriculum development. The Tempus project "COMPETENCE" and the series of booklets developed throughout the project show some of these developments and discussions, and seek to provide support in the introduction of such competence-based approaches to university academics and administrators across Europe.
Matching Competences between Higher Education and the Labour Market Manual / Handbook / Guide Competence, Labour Market, Higher Education Bernadette Frech, Biviana Deisy Castro Buitrago, Rene Wenzel, Rupert Beinhauer, Ana Azevedo, Robert Minovski
Abstract
Until recently the assessment of competences did not play an important role in any education system in the world, yet the picture has changed in response to a labour market which is increasingly competence centric and demands a shift towards a competency driven learning in the educational sector (Vervenne & Xheneumont, 2005). The new graduates do not only need basic theoretical knowledge but also a set of competences which allows them to be more versatile when facing new and unknown challenges. In this context the concern of the university stakeholders (especially employees and students) on the effectiveness of the programs taught has increased dramatically. Ewell and Boyer (1988) and Davis (1989) highlight that assessment in higher education is important, since it can provide institutions with crucial feedback which will allow them to improve and develop a student, a program, or a department. For these reasons, universities assess competence gaps between the competencies they teach and the labour market requirements to find how far they are from closing these gaps and how curricula need to be changed to increase the quality, performance and accountability of the education offered. Furthermore, through the assessment of competences students will receive a more transparent education and at the same time learn the necessary skills to become more employable in the future. University employees will be influenced by such an assessment as well since any curriculum change will have an impact on the way how activities - administrative procedures, teaching techniques and materials, personnel selection — are performed within the university.
Survey Report Study / Analysis Competence, Survey, Report, Results Rene Wenzel, Bernadette Frech and Rupert Beinhauer
Abstract
This report summarises the results of the Competence Survey undertaken in 2010 to detect room for improvement in the partaking institutions of higher education regarding the development of their curriculum. Within the Competence project graduates and employers of alumni of 8 degree programme: IIM, Postgraduate IIM, Hotel Management, Tourism, Ceramic engineering, Psychology, Economics and Mechanical Engineering in 4 countries: Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Serbia were interviewed to collect data about competences that graduates have gathered during their studies and competences demanded and required by the industries addressed in the respective degree programmes. The questionnaire was separated into 6 different sections which were: Introduction, Specific competences (for each degree programme), Generic competences, Work related skills. Conclusion and Personal background The questionnaire was filled by 368 alumni and employers. The results of the survey cast a positive light on the 8 degree programmes, as the majority of the alumni are already well prepared for the requirements of the industry they are working in. Nonetheless the data also suggests that there is room for improvement in each of the participating degree programmes. In the first part of this report aggregated data of all 8 participating degree programmes will be analysed. The second part will provide analyses of the data for each of the 8 degree programme surveyed.
Survey Results Study / Analysis Competence, Survey Results
Abstract
â–ºCompetence survey undertaken in 2010/2011 â–ºDetect room for improvement of higher education institutions regarding the development of their curriculum â–ºGraduates and employers of alumni of 8 degree programmes (IIM, Postgraduate IIM, Hotel Management, Tourism, Ceramic engineering, Psychology, Economics and Mechanical Engineering) â–ºin 4 countries (Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Serbia) were interviewed.