THEME 1: The impact and value of higher education
An import research theme for CHEPS is to what extent higher education succeeds in creating value. This is a question about the impact of higher education –its contribution to society (the ‘common good’) and the careers and lifetime opportunities of individuals. Through educating and training (young) citizens, in conducting research and contributing to scientific knowledge, and through exchanging the results of these efforts with society at large, higher education creates public value as well as private benefits.
Questions of public value are very much connected to the question of where higher education can help to provide answers to the grand challenges confronting our societies. The private value of higher education is related to the extent to which higher education succeeds in preparing students for today’s and tomorrow’s labour market and in equipping them with 21st Century skills. This illustrates that ‘value’ and ‘impact’ have many dimensions.
For many years CHEPS has been studying these dimensions and the policy frameworks surrounding them. The expansion of higher education and the shifting demands of the stakeholders in higher education trigger new questions regarding the quality and relevance of the services provided by higher education providers. For the education services, many questions relate to quality dimensions such as degree completion, graduate employability and students’ learning outcomes. And when it comes to research activity in higher education, stakeholders increasingly require proof of the socio-economic impact of the research outputs, with special attention to its impact on the region.
For policy-makers at national and supranational levels, the value of higher education is also related to how it is distributed across the multiple participants/citizens, in terms of age, gender, location, or social and ethnic background. Social inclusion is becoming an increasingly important issue in (higher) education, given the large inequalities that persist in many societies in terms of opportunities and outcomes in higher education.