Die Hybridkonferenz Transformation Fast and Slow: Quality, Trust and Digitalisation in Higher Education, das 43. jährliche EAIR Forum, findet vom 9.-11.09.2021 in Berlin statt. Veranstaltungssprache ist Englisch.
The year 2020 has sensitised everyone anew to the rapid pace of societal, economic and political transformation processes. A number of events including a global pandemic have accelerated higher education change within Europe and elsewhere. Such change requires political, institutional and individual commitments, structures and tools. Change operates at micro, meso and macro level and is sometimes fast, sometimes slow. Often, in transformation processes, trust has been mentioned as a key component of successful implementation. Nowadays, the notion of trust in higher education has often been translated into accountability, responsibility or even resilience. In recent higher education initiatives, the quality of transformation has been strongly influenced by digitalisation. Digitalisation is an enabler of fast change and also promotes the development of new services and approaches to ensure quality, support trust and ultimately improve higher education.
The effort to build trust can be viewed at different levels. At the micro level, it is an issue pertaining to individual academics, teachers, students and academic support staff. At the meso level it applies to the academic organisation and its sub-units. It is sometimes lacking on the part of State representatives with their detailed control interventions, for example new governance approaches - even if in recent years institutional autonomy has increased overall (see EUA Autonomy Scorecard). At the macro level, a major concern is society's recognition of the quality and credibility of academe. In recent years, there have indeed been increased initiatives by the higher education community to strengthen its integrity. However, as yet there has been no decrease in the number of cases of academic misconduct caused by greater competitive pressure, dependence on external funding and insecure employment. Another dimension of trust concerns the support of learning processes and assessment of research via Learning Analytics and Performance Measuring; here it is a question of trust in and responsible handling of Artificial Intelligence with its concomitant risks and opportunities.
Universities are confronted by processes of accelerated digitalisation though these were already underway prior to the corona virus era. As places of education and reflection, higher education institutions feel particularly committed to the responsible design and use of digitalisation for the purpose of quality knowledge production and knowledge distribution. Digitalisation is generally expected to enable institutions to conduct research, teaching and third mission activities on a higher, more professional level. Countries and institutions differ considerably in their expectations of change and in the extent to which they have already implemented change. They vary in the administration and infrastructure used to support research, teaching and administration.
In all these areas, the question arises: how can the relationship between trust and control be balanced so as to ensure an adequate response to changing societal demands in higher education, whilst also preserving the necessary academic freedom? Dealing with the Corona/COVID-19 pandemic has shown that institutions are able to react flexibly and responsibly even under the most
difficult of conditions. However, it has also shown that systematic further development of certain processes is necessary. The challenges of digitalisation for example have become so complex and diverse that, in future, individual institutions will find it increasingly difficult to cope alone. Working together, they can test the effectiveness of methods and concepts, including
participatory approaches, applied to higher education. Balancing transformation, be it in a slow or fast modality, requires the active participation and dialogue of all groups involved in academia.
Find further information here: https://www.eairweb.org/forum-berlin-2021