The Czech Republic and Poland inspired by Sweden

The European Commission has identified Sweden as a country that can inspire and contribute to the development of other countries' systems for monitoring of higher education. During the autumn, representatives from UKÄ (Swedish Higher Education Authority) have visited the Czech Republic and Poland to talk about our work.

Peer learning activity

Within the framework of the Erasmus program’s new peer learning activity, countries can get support from the European Commission to invite other countries that they believe can help and inspire their work on educational issues. The Czech Republic is one of the first countries to make use of this opportunity. 

The Czech Republic aims to develop its system for allocating resources to higher education institutions on the basis of quality. Thus they invited representatives from Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden for a meeting in Prague in late September. Annika Pontén, head of the department of Higher Education Analysis at Swedish Higher Education Authority, represented Sweden.

Annika Pontén. Photo by: Denny Lorentzen

Annika Pontén. Photo by: Denny Lorentzen

The Czech higher education has grown a lot in recent years. Now they want to reward high quality through the allocation of resources. The European Commission identified Sweden as an important partner in that effort, and the Ministry of Education asked the Swedish Higher Education Authority to participate to share its knowledge and experience, she says.

During the meeting, Annika Pontén presented the Swedish resource allocation system. This was followed by a discussion about the Czech Republic's situation based on our and the other countries’ experiences.

It was a very open and constructive discussion where all countries analysed their systems thoroughly and tried to give input to the Czech Republic, says Annika Pontén.

The aspect of Annika Pontén’s presentation that attracted the most interest was how Sweden during 2013-2015 has linked part of the allocation of resources to the quality assurance system. This means that universities and university colleges with programmes that have been assessed as “very high quality" in the UKÄ’s evaluations have been allocated additional resources.

Annika Pontén adds that Sweden also has much to learn from the other countries.

It was very interesting and inspiring to learn about other countries' resource allocation systems. Everyone tries to steer resources toward important policy goals such as quality and number of students that complete their studies, and it is striking how open many are to changing and developing their systems. There is a lot for Sweden to learn, both at the overall level and the detail level. Maybe it can lead to a more vibrant discussion on the need to reform our own resource allocation system.

Poland also interested

In early September, representatives of the UKÄ visited Poland, where Sweden has also been identified as a country that can help and inspire.

Poland wants to learn more about tracking graduates' career paths, since establishment in the labour market is one way of measuring the impact of higher education. Therefore they invited representatives from ten countries to a meeting in Warsaw to exchange experiences, says Staffan Nilsson, analyst at UKÄ.

Representatives of the European Commission and EURO Graduate also attended the meeting. The latter is a project that aims to develop methods for tracking graduates’ career paths, which would enable international comparisons. Some countries use surveys to monitor how the students establish themselves in the labour market while Sweden, and many with us, use administrative data.

During the meeting we discussed the pros and cons of different methods. In Sweden we have access to good administrative data based on population data, which includes data on unemployment, employment and income, as well as to what extent people are working within the area that they were trained for. This means we can get a fairly good picture of the graduates' career paths, says Staffan Nilsson.

The meeting in Warsaw was the start of further cooperation on issues relating to labour market establishment. It also led to five representatives from Poland visiting the Swedish Higher Education Authority two weeks later to continue the conversation.