OECD report on higher education in Andalusia published

Saturday, November, 2010

A new OECD report (‘Higher Education in Regional and City Development: The Autonomous Region of Andalusia, Spain’, published today), whilst focused on the most populous region of Spain, provides information on higher education activities and strategies that may be of interest to Ireland.

The Andalusian region is similar to Ireland in that it has experienced rapid economic growth in recent years, before the onset of the crisis, and it has made significant investment in higher education – for example, five new public universities have been established in the region since 1990.  Further, the university system in Andalusia is characterised by collaboration and coordination in teaching, learning and research – which are likely to become more important in the Irish HE system in the coming years.

Among the recommendations in the OECD report to improve the HE system in the region of Andalusia are:

  • improved accountability, specialisation and efficiency of universities through more robust, evidence-based decision-making
  • simplification of the decision-making process in universities to help make them become more flexible and responsive to the wider needs of the region
  • less concentration of public funding and more acquisition of external funding among the region’s universities
  • strengthened efforts by universities to develop general competencies among the region’s population aimed at enhancing human capital characteristics and educational attainment, which will provide a positive signal to potential inward investors
  • affordability in respect of accessing higher education
  • provision of a stronger corporate brand of the Andalusian HE system, aimed at promoting the region for inward investment purposes
  • More focused development of innovation in a smaller number of fields with a higher probability of success – the report mentions building on existing clusters in bio-tech, aerospace, food, ICT and renewables
  • enhanced technology transfer through promoting incentives for partnerships between enterprises and the region’s universities
  • enhanced contribution of the region’s universities to rural development, including supporting improvements in agri-food and rural tourism
  • making the region more attractive for international students by building on the region’s strong image for tourism, especially in culture and heritage.

Elsewhere in the substantial OECD report, which runs to almost 300 pages, there is mention of Ireland in a number of places.

The report shows that Ireland performs well in terms of the percentage of the population attaining tertiary education among those aged 25-34 years but much less strongly among those aged between 55 and 64 years (Figure 2.1, p. 85).  Mention is also made of the Ireland’s National Framework of Qualifications (Box 2.8, p. 106) in the context of enabling comparison of qualifications, identifying alternative pathways to gaining higher education qualifications and the promotion of recognition of prior learning in gaining access to higher education.  The OECD report also highlights the Welcome Ireland programme (Box 5.3, p. 222) in respect of skills development initiatives to train and up-skill personnel for tourism.  Finally, in terms of Europe’s top 25 regions for creative and cultural employment clusters, Ireland is shown to attain the rank of 17th (Table 5.A.1.2, p. 264), which PMCA interprets positively as a compartive/competitive advantage of the country and one that can be built upon.

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