The Professional Relevance of Study

Disputes, Widely Shared Approaches, and Future Perspectives

in International Journal of Chinese Education
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The extent to which and how curricula, teaching and learning in higher education should be shaped to prepare students for their subsequent work and for activities in other life spheres has been a frequently and often controversially discussed theme in economically advanced countries since about the 1950s. The increase of the graduation rates from less than 5% to about 50% on average was often hailed as a contribution to economic growth and often criticized as leading to ‘over-education’ and increasing ‘mismatches’ between the graduates’ competences and the demands of the employment system. Over the years, insight gained momentum that many general judgements are misleading, because they tend to put too much emphasis on market cycles, try to infer too much from employment indicators about the substantive relationships between learning, competences and work and because they underestimate the diversity both in higher education and in graduate work tasks which grew enormously over time. Moreover, empirical research showed an impressive variety between countries as regards the concepts of higher education and the expected links between learning and subsequent work. In recent years, the term ‘employability’ became most widely used in the United Kingdom, but also spread internationally to some extent. It reflected the intention of its advocates to gear higher education instrumentally to the presumed need of the employment system. But views continued to vary in the recent discussions about the links between higher education and the world of work, whether more specialized preparation for the expected work tasks or more emphasis on general competences is preferable. At times, prime emphasis was directed to the question how elite higher education prepares for the ‘knowledge economy’, and at times the role of mass higher education for the intermediate level occupations was viewed as the most salient issue. Some concepts considered the student primarily as a ‘homo oeconomicus’, while other concepts underscore the importance of critical thinking, of freedom of learning in order to develop innovative ideas and of preparation for life in a ‘post-industrial’ society. The discourse can be viewed as a never-ending dispute or as driven by the persistent hope that a higher level of reflection might lead eventually to better solutions.

The Professional Relevance of Study

Disputes, Widely Shared Approaches, and Future Perspectives

in International Journal of Chinese Education

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References

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2

Ulrich Teichler“Higher Education and the World of Work: A Perennial Controversial Debate,” in Mass Higher Education Development in East Asiaeds. Jung Cheol Shin Gerard Postiglione and Futao Huang (Cham: Springer 2015b) 269-288.

6

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8

Ulrich Teichler and Barbara M. Kehm“Towards a New Understanding of the Relationships Between Higher Education and Employment,” European Journal of Education 30 no. 2 (1995): 115-132; Ulrich Teichler “Higher Education Policy and the World of Work: Changing Conditions and Challenges” Higher Education Policy 12 no. 4 (1999): 285-312.

10

Jim Allen et al. eds.Competencies Higher Education and Career in Japan and the Netherlands (Dordrecht: Springer2007); Jim Allen and Rolf van der Velden eds. The Flexible Professional in the Knowledge Society: New Challenges for Higher Education (Dordrecht: Springer 2011); Mateja Melink and Samo Pavlin eds. Employability of Graduates and Higher Education Management Systems: Final Report of the DEHEMS Project (Ljubljana: University of Ljubljana Faculty of Social Sciences 2012); Harald Schomburg and Ulrich Teichler Higher Education and Graduate Employment in Europe (Dordrecht: Springer 2006); Ulrich Teichler ed. Careers of University Graduates: Views and Experiences in Comparative Perspective (Dordrecht: Springer 2007a).

11

Ulrich TeichlerHigher Education and the World of Work: Conceptual Frameworks Comparative Perspectives Empirical Findings (Rotterdam and Taipei: Sense Publishers2009).

12

Osmo Kivinen and Jouni Nurmi“Labour Market Relevance of European University Education: From Enrolment to Professional Employment in 12 Countries,” European Journal of Education 49 no. 4 (2014): 558-574.

15

Kai Muehleck“On the Tracks of Students and Graduates: Methods and Uses of Tracking Procedures in the European Higher Education Area,” in Higher Education at the Crossroads: Between the Bologna Process and National Reformseds. Adrian Curaj et al. (Dordrecht: Springer2012) 223-243.

17

For example see Sheldon Rothblatt“Curriculum, Students, Education: Graduation and Careers,” in A History of the University in Europe. Volume IV: Universities Since 1945ed. Walter Rüegg (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press2011) 238-275.

18

Harald Schomburg and Ulrich TeichlerHigher Education and Graduate Employment in Europe (Dordrecht: Springer2006); Ulrich Teichler “Does Higher Education Matter? Lessons from a Comparative Graduate Survey” European Journal of Education 42 no. 1 (2007b): 11-34.

19

Jim Allen and Rolf van der Velden eds.The Flexible Professional in the Knowledge Society: New Challenges for Higher Education (Dordrecht: Springer2011).

20

John Brennan and Rajani Naidoo“Higher Education and the Achievement of (and/or) Prevention of Equity and Social Justice,” Higher Education56 no. 3 (2008): 287-302.

22

Sybille Reichert and Christian TauchTrends III: Progress Towards the European Higher Education Area (Brussels: European University Association2003).

23

Wilfried Schubarth“ ‘Employability’ an Hochschulen—vom Reizwort zum Leitziel [‘employability’—from a provocative terms towards a major goal]?” Das Hochschulwesen [Higher Education] 61 no. 5 (2013): 160-163.

26

Andrée Sursock and Hanne SmidtTrends 2010: A Decade of Change in European Higher Education (Brussels: European University Association2010); chepsincher and ecotec eds. The First Decade of Working on the European Higher Education Area 1 vol. (Enschede: University of Twente cheps. 2010).

28

Pavel Zgaga“Reconsidering the EHEA Principles: Is There a ‘Bologna Philosophy’?” in Higher Education at the Crossroads: Between the Bologna Process and National Reformseds. Adrian Curaj et al. (Dordrecht: Springer2012) 17-38.

32

Harald Schomburg“Work Orientation and Job Satisfaction,” in Careers of University Graduates: Views and Experiences in Comparative Perspectivesed. Ulrich Teichler (Dordrecht: Springer2007) 247-264.

35

For example see Jussi Välimaa“The Relevance of Higher Education to Knowledge Society and Knowledge-Driven Economy: Education, Research and Innovation,” in The European Higher Education Area: Perspectives on a Moving Targeteds. Barbara M. Kehm Jeroen Huisman and Bjørn Stensaker (Rotterdam: Sense2009) 23-41.

37

James S. Taylor et al. eds.Non-University Higher Education in Europe (Dordrecht: Springer2008).

39

Rolf van der Velden and Jim Allen“The Flexible Professional in the Knowledge Society: Required Competences and the Role of Higher Education,” in The Flexible Professional in the Knowledge Society: New Challenges for Higher Educationeds. Jim Allen and Rolf van der Velden (Dordrecht: Springer2011) 15-53.

40

Hans de Wit et al. eds.Internationalisation of Higher Education (Brussels: European Parliament, Directorate-General for Internal Policies2015).

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