Background methodology

Contemporary research indicates that universities’ curricula should be prone to existing trends such as the flexibilisation of working tasks and job arrangements (OECD, 2000; STILE, 2004), the impact of new information technologies on most occupations, especially those related to HE (World Bank, 2002), the increasing awareness of the importance of key competences (EU, 2005), and the commingling of learning and work, transferring most of the formal education institutions into ‘lifelong and life wide’ supporters (EU 2001; EU, 2006 ). In order to face these issues HE is searching for appropriate pedagogical responses and educational policies in general. In providing the most relevant answers, this project will begin with an in-depth analysis of competence development through university programmes. Its primary objective will be to upgrade the relevant knowledge base that will enable the development of strategies and curriculum arrangements for continuous modernisation in this respect, and to provide the recommendations needed.

In 2003 a major project was launched, the so-called REFLEX project (6 FP) (short for Research into Employment and professional FLEXibility). Building on earlier projects such as CHEERS , CATEWE and STT (5FP), ‘Tuning Educational Structures in Europe’ (Socrates), and ‘Trans national European Evaluation Project’ (TEEP) , the REFLEX project focused on the demands that the modern knowledge society placed on higher education graduates, and the degree to which higher education equips graduates with the competencies to meet these demands. The following countries were involved in the study: Austria, Belgium (Flanders), Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The project aimed to contribute to a more effective higher education policy, by identifying successful HE programs and HE systems in preparing students for the knowledge society. Rather than starting from scratch, the current project closely follows the lead set by the REFLEX project.