|Comment by Felix
of all I want to mention an important experience. Two months before we
finished the study I got a draft of the political conclusions of the Council,
because they knew months before what we wanted to say, referring to the
finding of the study. It's important to think about the relation between
research and politics. I agree these studies always have impacts on politics,
but on the other hand of course the European Commission and Council defined
the question, referred to the benchmark criteria, and in so far it was
a restricted type of research, especially if you remember what James Wickham
told us yesterday. So we should do it, but of course we have the task to
think about on independent research, and this is another story.
Let me make three statements on the situation of TVET research in Europe,
first of all on the Maastricht study. It was pointed out by Tom and Anneke
- the good thing was that it is a kind of indicator that research was seen
by the European Commission and Council as a dimension of innovation. In
so far TVET research is catching up to other societal spheres, where of
course always we have a combination of politics, practice and research.
This is a kind of holistic circle in innovation in all societal fields
. Look at the environmental policy, at medicine, at new technologies and
so on. In so far the study was important because it is an indicator for
accepting VET research as part of innovation.
If you have a closer look at what we had to do, things are different, because
the definition of things that we had to investigate refers to a given framework
which is a little bit simple. The Commission was interested in the question:
how fast are the member states matching the criteria of the Copenhagen
process, what is the ranking - one, two, three, four - and so on, a bit
simplified. Or what is the major interest - of course there is a policy
of implicit harmonisation, and it might be a good idea to have a kind of
implicit harmonisation. In so far I would distinguish between consulted-oriented
research that we did with this study, and independent research along questions
that were raised by James Wickham and others during this conference. These
are two different things.
And in so far, Anneke, it is good that the state institutes are involved
in this style of state institute. I worked in such an institute for seven
years, I know quite well how it works, and some colleagues of the federal
institute of Germany are here. It is also a kind of working bench for the
ministry. In Germany we had a debate that in these institutes research
should happen in the given framework of politics. I am happy that a lot
of colleagues in these institutes are strong enough to do additional things
of course, but we have to deal with the tension between free research and
politics, and we have to accept that we won't get resources if we do critical
so far we need the universities as a huge potential for research. Without
backing up basic research of universities we won't have a developed research.
And the universities are more or less outside of VET research. Look at
the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh Framework research - nothing on VET research.
It doesn't exist in the scientific communities. And if this continues VET
research won't exist at a level where research communities and traditions
should be established.
Let me make a remark on Ludger's opening remarks. He said we should use
the infrastructure potentials of universities, which means we had to establish
the professionalisation of VET experts and TVET teachers. If we establish
Bachelor and Master programmes at university, the university needs of course
infrastructure. This is a basis for implementing basic research and to
get connected to these huge potentials of research. And of course don't
forget analysing the framework programmes of the European Commission, as
far as I understand the whole development. We had a little chance in the
Fourth Framework. Here and there VET research was established, but later,
in the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, it disappeared. This is a benchmark, and
we might use this benchmark in the future to answer the question: are we
established at the European level.
I am pessimistic in this relation. I visited a conference in Shanghai -
the topic was vocational education and training. And let me add some remarks
in addition to the picture that you have drawn on the vocational education
and training in Europe, referring to the reports that we read every day.
One colleague from Hong Kong, the boss of the administration of the VET
institution in Hong Kong, said there is a world-wide stigmatisation of
vocational education and training, no one wants to do it, the stupid and
the risk groups are doing it. And he referred to the statistics of the
OECD - up to eight or nine of the OECD countries had figures between sixty
and seventy-eight per cent of higher education students of one cohort.
So the programme 'college for all' is the programme world-wide, the discrimination
of TVET is going on, and the stigmatisation is a huge problem world-wide.
The colleague from China said that the investment in vocational education
in China was 11,5% six years ago, it decreased down to 6,5%. And it's an
indicator for academic drift, they established more and more vocational
education in universities. There is a strong tendency on vocationalism
in university, so in these huge countries, similar to the United States,
all training and education is moving into the universities below the Bachelor
level. The establishment of sub-baccalaureate studies is going on. In so
far I am not very happy that Europe established in the Bologna process
the Anglo-Saxon model of Bachelor and Master. This was the first step I'm
sure, looking at America and China, the next step will be to establish
sub- baccalaureate levels to bring in vocational education and training
into the university. Then you have an argument for the parents to say my
child - one-child-family - my child is doing academic studies - an image
problem! We should do some comparative studies about these events. I shouldn't
make remarks on the future, my proposal was to give some arguments on the