CHEPS 30th anniversary conference

On June 25, 2014 the Center for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS) at the University of Twente celebrates its 30th anniversary with the latest CHEPS Conference. This event focuses on the themes of diversity and profiling in higher education, and critically explores the impacts of higher education institutions taking on an increasing spread of functions and missions. Further spreading their scarce resources across these multiple missions risks reducing their overall level of public value delivered. This triggered CHEPS to make the issue of ‘mission stretch’ a central theme in its research programme. The conference seeks to answer two key questions:

· Has the traditional multifunctional university – combining activities including teaching, research and social engagement – had its day?

· Can higher education institutions still serve their various clients’ demands without compromising teaching and/or research quality?

Higher education institutions face managing this balancing act, finding creative ways to meet societal demands and expectations across an increasing spread of activities. This may create pressures for institutions to specialise in different ways, but it is not yet clear what ideal types of higher education institutions might potentially arise. Technology may change the way university activities take place, but ultimately they remain dependent upon the knowledge, expertise and usage of their employees. Wider societal changes are challenging higher education institutions to deliver new kinds of graduates ready for employment in sectors and occupations that did not exist before.

These new tensions and pressures are not just a problem for universities, and indeed their capacity to respond effectively to them depends on the kinds of wider support their stakeholders provide. Government regulation of higher education will be very different if governments wish to stimulate and encourage concentration, specialisation or profiling by universities. But at the same time, regulators need to avoid creating lacunae in their higher education systems, and ensure that in encouraging profiling, they do not discourage universities from less prestigious activities. The CHEPS Conference provides a stimulating space to explore the challenges and tensions of differentiation and profiling in higher education and to shape future agendas for policy-makers and analysts.

The conference consists of invited keynotes, a panel discussion and an interactive policy game based on the CHEPS’ U-Map tool, interspersed with ground-breaking think-pieces by CHEPS researchers. Our aim is to provoke creative dialogue and challenge complacency as well as to provide ample opportunity for an interactive discussion amongst participants.

We warmly invite you to join us in celebrating 30 years of CHEPS at the University of Twente on June 25. After the conference you are most welcome to join our CHEPS Anniversary Party in our on-campus Faculty Club.

Prof. Dr. Hans Vossensteyn

Director CHEPS