New Policy Initiatives for Promoting Student-Centered Higher Education

Virtual Session

Wednesday, 14. October 2020


Please register by 7. October to receive the Zoom link by email.

Description of the Session

There is widespread agreement, especially on the policy level, that education in the EHEA should become more student-centered. However, there is also widespread agreement that implementation in day-to-day practice is lagging. Hence, policy makers require new tools, to encourage and incentivize institutions to reform their actual educational practices. This policy event will present a number of new and innovative tools that policy makers, politicians and associations can use to encourage HEI’s to adopt student-centered learning practices. These are:

  • Teaching grants
  • Student engagement surveys
  • Student-centered quality assurance
  • Teaching careers and recognition
  • Advocacy and networking

Format of the Session

The session will include presentations by relevant experts discussing the individual policy recommendations.

Topics and Speakers

Teaching Grants

Presenter: Judith Huisman / NRO (NL)

These are policies that fund specific teaching innovation projects, such as new courses or pedagogies, much like research grants fund specific research projects. Here, we can think of things like the Comenius program in The Netherlands, which gives grants to teaching staff to design new courses and project (open source), thereby both fostering innovation and recognizing excellence in education.

Developing teaching focused rankings, based on, among other things, student engagement

Presenter: Jonathan Neves / Advance HE (UK) 

Currently university ranking mainly focus on research. Even rankings that focus on education tend to rely heavily on student-satisfaction or intake, throughput and output metrics. However, these do not necessarily reflect the learning outcomes and educational journey of students, and do not necessarily reward student-centered learning, but rather lax grading, investments in new facilities and clever communication. We feel that it would be good to develop more prominent rankings of educational quality, based on student engagement rather than student satisfaction, as measured by student engagement surveys, that measure the extent to which students are engaged with their education, which is the goal of student-centered learning. By making the extent to which institutions practice student-centered learning visible, prospective students can make more informed choices and institutions will compete on the quality of their education.  

Accreditation reforms

Presenter: Tia Loukkola / EUA (BE)

In many EU countries, accreditation frameworks are rather generic and do not explicitly focus on extent to which education is future-proof, as defined in the policy consensus. The Dublin descriptors, which govern accreditations in the EU, should be revised to be more aligned with the future direction of higher education. They should also not focus merely on what students should learn, but also on how they learn it, whether it is effective, both in the short term but also in teaching students the skills they will need in the future.   

Teaching careers & recognition

Presenter: Kim Huijpen / VSNU (NL) 

In many institutions, educational excellence and innovation is insufficiently recognized in institutions’ HR-policy. Oftentimes, hiring decisions are not based on interest or aptitude for teaching. Moreover, those who focus on teaching generally have fewer career possibilities than those who focus on research. This disincentivizes educational innovation and improvement. Hence it is important to create explicit HR-criteria to recognize teaching achievement throughout academic careers, to make teaching achievement a firm requirement for all academic careers, and to develop teaching-focused career tracks that are equal in status to research-focused career tracks. 

Advocacy and Networking

Presenter: Eileen McEvoy / National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (IR)

It is important to spread awareness of student-centered learning practices, both concerning their value and how to practically implement it, throughout the EHEA, as many institutional might not be aware of these or might have some misconceptions about them. Therefore, it is important to create a number of advocacy organizations and communities of practice that can function as centers of expertise. 


This session will take place virtually. Registrants will receive a Zoom link by email the day before the session.