Making universities stronger
Half of all Norwegian jobs will require a masters degree in the next ten years. It will therefore be increasingly important to ensure universities' success, says FLAGSHIP researchers to University World News.
University Square, University of Oslo. (Photo: © UiO / Ståle Skogstad)
A recent article in University World News (UWN) presents findings from the recently completed ARENA project FLAGSHIP. This was an ARENA coordinated research project which examined how European flagship universities have adapted over the last ten years to far-reaching changes in their political and socio-economic environments.
A flagship university is defined as a comprehensive research-intensive university, located in one of its country’s largest urban areas. They are generally among the oldest and largest in their countries.
The project 'has challenged the simplistic notion that all European institutions are successful while those in Africa and parts of Asia are not,' UWN writes. According to Peter Maassen of the University of Oslo, 'this is not only totally unrealistic but also completely outdated'.
National contexts matter
In the extensive article, researchers Maassen and ARENA's Åse Gornitzka identified certain conditions for universities to become successful research universities at three levels: the national public governance structure, the institutional governance structure, and the level of autonomy of the most productive academics.
'While successful universities had a range of governance approaches, success was associated with governance that allows a high level of autonomy for academics', writes UWN.
Maassen also stresses the national context of successful universities:
'Part of the reason why the flagship European universities could become successful was that they were operating in a context, like with the ERC, where there is a lot of competition for funding which allows some to be successful, all to participate and many not to be successful'.
The FLAGSHIP project was coordinated by ARENA's Åse Gornitzka and lasted from 2011 to 2015.