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Investigating educational issues across Europe (ACROSS Base)
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Method Typology: Ideal-types (EVALUATE)
Description "The understanding of a lot of data, the comparison of situations between countries and between universities asks for frames of reference. The use of ideal-types is traditional in the social sciences: it allows to classify, to range data, countries and universities. However, we do not have to misunderstand the meaning of ideal-types: ideal-type is an intellectual building; it has an heuristic function; it does not exist as such in the reality. However, inquiries allow to set up that a given university is nearer of a given ideal-type than of another one. Two series of ideal-types have been built during the research: ideal-types of evaluation, ideal-types of universities.

... It is possible to defend the following thesis : a given university does not look like another university; it is looking for being 'unique' in a context in which the competition between the universities is developing more and more. Each university is 'unique' because it is marked by its history and by the choices made during that history... However, we also observe similarities between some universities. If we take into account nine dimensions to characterise universities (missions, seniority, student population, teaching disciplines, structures, research, staff, financial resources, relations with the territory), we can make the hypothesis that these features are not conjugated by random. The observations issued from case studies have allowed to build, ex-post, three ideal-types of universities: the universities of general character (or universities of full exercise), profession-oriented universities of education and applied sciences, and universities of territorial development." (Dubois, 1998, pp. 5f., 36)

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