EAIE2014 (VII). Returns on higher education and labour market linkages: latest OECD findings

Notes from the 26th Annual EAIE Conference, held in Prague, Czech Republic, on 16-19 September 2014. More notes on this event: eaie2014.

Returns on higher education and labour market linkages: latest OECD findings
Chair: Anna Glass, OECD, France

Adam Krcal, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic, Czech Republic

Why a need for developing a quality framework?

  • Massive expansion of higher education.
  • Greater diversity in terms of study programmes.
  • Broader spread of institutions’ social missions.
  • Different types of provision to meet the needs of new student populations: distant learning programmes, changing labour patterns, re-skilling needs…
  • Decentralization process in Higher Education: greater and broader autonomy.
  • Chang in internal structure of Higher Education systems: more diversified, bigger institutions, budget constraints.

What is "quality" in higher education? How can we monitor it? How can we assure it?

Three main purposes of a quality framework: acountability, transparency and improvement.

Patricia Mangeol, OECD/IMHE, France

There is an increase of students in Higher Education in the OECD, which also implies upward or downward social mobility in relationship with their parents —usually upward mobility is greater than downward mobility, though the latter is existent all across the OECD.

People coming out of higher education have more/better skills in terms of literacy than those with lower levels of education. But the performance in different education levels varies quite a lot across the OECD. E.g. in the US the gap between the top and the bottom is huge. On the other hand, the top level of performance is different between countries. E.g. in Japan +30% of their higher education graduates score highest in literacy, while in Spain only less of 10% do.

Individuals with Higher Education are more employed and earn more —of course, as an aggregate.

More education is related with stating being in good health, having a say in government, volunteering at least once a month, or reporting that one can trust others. Education has strong social returns.

Is the investment in education worth? Yes, but the return of the investment —as measured in net present value— varies between the private and the public net returns. Normally, private returns are higher than public returns. But, in any case, both public and private returns are positive and generally not small.

What happened with the crisis?

In general, it impacted negatively (with more unemployment) the lowest levels of education, not that much in secondary educatino and very very much less for highly educated people.

The crisis did not only impact people putting them out of their jobs, but also the public expenditure on education. In general, though, most countries kept on spending (as a % of the GDP) on education institutions despite the fall of GDP [comment: this indicator is misleading, as some countries did cut on education expenditure, but as their GDPs dropped, the ratio still looks as they did increase the expenditure on education].


26th Annual EAIE Conference (2014)

TIES2012 (XI). David Istance: Technology Use and Broader Models of Schooling and Learning — common arguments re-examined

Notes from the III European Conference on Information Technology in Education and Society: A Critical Insight, in Barcelona, Spain, in January 1-3, 2012. More notes on this event under the tag ties2012.

David Istance (Centre for Educational Research and Innovation, OECD)
Technology Use and Broader Models of Schooling and Learning — common arguments re-examined.

ICTs in education have been a matter of analysis and research since 1980s, including lot of work on adults and lifelong learning and technology, role of technology in higher education (especially e-learning), schools, digital literacy, curriculum change, students assessment, equipment, teacher training, leadership, open educational resources, millennium learners, etc.

More recent reports show the importance of digital literacy and competence in two ways: as a tool in itself, and as a means to achieve better performance on traditional disciplines, especially writing and reading.

Innovative learning environments

ILE aims to inform practice, leadership and reform through analysis of innovative configurations of learning for children and young people, on three strands: learning research, innovative cases, and implementation and change.

Learning conclusions. Environments should:

  • Make learning central, encourage engagement, and be where learners come to understand themselves as learners.
  • Ensure that learning is social and often collaborative.
  • Be highly attuned to learners’ motivations and the importance of emotions.
  • Be acutely sensitive to individual differences including in prior knowledge.
  • Be demanding for each learner but without excessive overload.
  • Use assessments consistent with its aims, with strong emphasis on formative feedback.
  • Promote horizontal connectedness across activities and subjects, in-and out-of-school.
  • All these characteristics should be present, and not just one or two of them.

So, is technology on of the learning principles? Maybe not. Technology is more implicit rather than explicit in the learning ‘principles’. There is the important distinction between technology-centred and learner-centred approaches to learning with technology:

  • Fostering engagement.
  • Learning with others.
  • Supporting targeted respondses to difference and facilitating personalization.
  • Underpinning assessment for learning.
  • Providing connectedness (to others, to knowledge, etc.).

Motors and locus of innovation in education

OECD (2004). Innovation in the Knowledge Economy: Implications for Education and Learning analysed four sources of innovation or pumps:

  • The science pump: knowledge and research.
  • Networking pump: creating scale and synergies.
  • The reorganisation pump: modular restructuring.
  • The technology pump: more efficiency, new ways and means.

Education is not strong on any of these. On the other hand, technology is integral to all of them, not just in the technology pump.

There is a common framework implicit in much research and discussion of schooling an learning: system -> school -> class -> teacher -> learner. But, when we think about innovative learning environments, can we go beyond that framework? Can we go beyond institutional structures? Do we have to assume that institutions are given and are the existing ones? Does non-formal learning has a place in this framework? Can we have a look at the environment, and not at the single school, the single class, the single teacher, etc.?

New dynamics and organisation of learning environments:

  • Who: learners.
  • With whom: teachers.
  • With what: resources.
  • What: content.
  • How: reorganized learning activities and pedagogies.
  • Learning leadership.

This scheme has a result, which is learning, information about learning activities, learners and outcomes, upon which evaluation and assessment can be applied. Learning feedback comes at the end and can be used by the learning leader to restart the whole process.

This learning environment has to be embedded in a wider systemic framework. On the one hand, and at the micro level, it is closely related to the institutional environment. On the other hand, a+dn at the meso level, there are networks of environments and networks of practice. Last, and at the macro level, policy-setting and framing conditions determine the whole system.

The report Connected Minds, from the New Millennium Learners project, compares the competing ‘evangelist’ vs. ‘sceptic’ theses, states that technology and social media are importantly changing social and cultural environment, but there still is no evidence that young people want radically different learning environments. In fact, they want engagement, convenience (any time, anywhere) and enhanced productivity. There is, also, a need for working out the implications of the changing digital world for what schools should do.

How does the future of schooling look like? The OECD schooling scenarios:

  • The bureaucratic system continues, and even gets stronger.
  • Re-schooling I: Schools as focused learning organisations.
  • Re-schooling II: Schools as core social centres.
  • De-schooling I: Radical extension of the market model.
  • De-schooling II: Learning networks and the Network Society.
  • De-schooling III: Teacher exodus and system meltdown.

We need to reflect on what we want education for youth to look like, and see whether we can go beyond a single model (and single stereotype) of school for all aged 3 to 19 y.o. It should be possible to have an intense shared schooling experience, high quality and resourced for 3-13yo (bureaucracy and re-schooling), and diverse experiences, programmes and hybrids for all 14-19 y.o, including basic university (re-schooling and de-schooling).


III European Conference on Information Technology in Education and Society: A Critical Insight (2012)

John Dryden: ICT Mainstreaming and the Quality of Development Cooperation

Notes from the the II Encuentro Internacional TIC para la Cooperación al Desarrollo (Development Cooperation 2.0: II International Meeting on ICT for Development Cooperation) held in Gijón, Spain, on February 10-12th, 2009. More notes on this event: cooperacion2.0_2009. More notes on this series of events: cooperacion2.0.

Innovating in ICT for Human Development
John Dryden, Ex-Deputy Director Science, Technology and Industry. OECD

Main learnings from the OECD in the field of ICT4D:

    OECD’s findings on the benefits of ICTs do not carry over easily to developiong countries.

  • Global initiatives in “ICT4D” have been long on discussion and short on action
  • ICT mainstreaming is indispensible to achieveing MDGs
  • ICT mainstreaming is implicit rather than explicit in the push for “aid effectiveness”
  • The conjuncture is very poor so current prospects do not appear good but there are a few developments that create opportunities both for development co-operation and for ICTs to enhance its quality and effectiveness

ICT in Development Cooperation institutions vs. ICT4D

ICTs in development cooperation

  • ICT aids management and delivery of development assistance
  • ICT “mainstreamed” as part of development assistance: ICTs integrated on what institutions “deliver”


  • All of the above, plus ICT productgion and use to achieve economic growth, development and social welfare.

The Seoul Declaration, 2008

  • Facilitate the convergence of digital networks, devices and services
  • Foster creativity in development, use and application of the Internet
  • Strengthen confidence and security
  • Ensure the Internet Economy is truly global

For developing countries, this means

  • more access to Internet and related ICTs
  • competition
  • use by all communities: local content and language, inclusion
  • energy efficiency

Against the Solow Paradox: there is now evidence on the economic impacts of ICTs:

  • macro-economic evidence on the role of ICT investment in capital deepening
  • sectoral analysis showing the contribution of (a) ICT-producing sectors and (b) ICT-using sectors to productivity growth
  • detailed firm-level analysis demonstrating the wide-ranging impacts of ICTs in productivity

Problems to implant ICTs in developing countries:

  • Barriers of entry and different people needs
  • The relationship between ICT investments and economic growth in OECD countries is complex and uncertain,highly dependent on complementary factors, many of which less apparent in developing countries: power supply, maintenance, skills and literacy, the degree to which society is networked, the extent to which its economy is reliant on services, etc.

The Genoa Plan of Action

  • development of national e-strategies
  • improve connectivity, increase access, lower costs
  • enhance human capacity development, knowledge creation and sharing
  • Foster enterprise, jobs and entrepreneurship

Mainstreaming ICTs

UN ICT Task Force Mainstreaming ICTs for the achievement of the MDGs: ICTs as an “enabler” of development, not a production sector

ICTs should be able to enable donnor coordination: need analysis, non-duplication of efforts and projects, etc.


Caroline Figueres: is effectiveness only top-down? aren’t we seeing bottom-up effectiveness? A: Yes, of course.


Development Cooperation 2.0 (2009)