Service Communautaire d'Information sur la Recherche et le Développement - CORDIS

Evaluation and self-evaluation of universities in Europe: Evaluations of activities and of results - Evaluation of the education-employment relationship

In the present period and in most countries, university teaching and research missions are becoming more precise. From now, universities have to prepare students to employment, to participate to the production and to the updating of skills which are required by the changes in production systems (as well for the future employees as for the present ones), to contribute to the economic development and more particularly to the dynamics of the territory in which they are located.

In spite of the importance of these new assignments, their evaluation has been developed more recently in comparison to the teaching and research evaluations. This evaluation field is not very regulated and not very institutionalised. Optional, the evaluation is largely informal and punctual. When it is implemented, it is characterised by a great variety of actors, contents and objectives, by the diversity of evaluation instruments.

Several evaluation fields are possible: creation of profession-oriented diplomas and/or changes in their contents, continuous training, and insertion of students in the labour market, university territory relationship. The development of an evaluation dealing with the professional insertion of students depends on the labour market situation, on the university seniority, on the specificity of the offered diplomas. Structures, provisions, methodologies, measures are diverse: punctual surveys, observatory inside the university, regional observatory working together with a national observatory.

Evaluation of the university-territory relationship is, still more, marked by the multiplicity of objects and objectives: increasing skills of the local young population, fixing young people on the territory (avoiding their departure towards the great university towns), increasing the locals markets of products and service by the student consumption, giving life to the territory by cultural and social activities organised by the university, creating jobs within the university, launching university-firm partnerships for research and technological transfers, partnership between universities of the same region.

The attention paid for the new university missions is explained by different factors: graduates' difficulties to find a job (so, the students question the relative value of different university degrees), greater attention paid by firms in the university resources and in the continuous education opportunities, a partial de-centralisation of education questions towards the local authorities (specially towards the regions), increasing of university funding by the local authorities.

However, the weak development of the evaluation of the education-employment-territory relationship can be explained by a lot of obstacles, due to the actors and to the difficulty in building questions and analysis. Graduates keep few contacts or do not have contacts with their university and, so, make few feedbacks about the teaching they have received. Some teachers are reluctant to an evaluation of the diplomas and of their contents by the professional milieus ("employers only know their specialised and short term interests"); they are in favour of an evaluation, which also measures the social pertinence of degrees and not only their economic performance. Employers are interested in the partnership with universities, however they are reluctant to promise to hire students in training courses, to recruit new graduates, to fund the research in a long term. Public authorities, State and Regions, are also responsible lack of implication o the official evaluation bodies in the field, weak allocation of specific financial resources.

The weak development of this evaluation field is also explained by the difficulty of building clear problematic. Methodologies to measure the students' professional insertion are got under control, but a central question remains: are the difficulties to find a job for the students graduated in a given discipline explainable by the poor quality of teaching and/or by the deterioration of the labour market due to other factors? The evaluation of the university-territory relationship questions the diversity of territories: which is the pertinent space for the evaluation? The local space? The regional, the national, the European ones? More, the results of the interrelation between the education system and the social, economic (labour market), cultural environment are particularly difficult to apprehend and to interpret, because the parameters to take into account are a lot.

Reported by

Universite de Paris X (Nanterre)
200 Rue de la Republique
92001 Nanterre
France
See on map