Edition 181 - May 2016

Towards an integrated approach in European Master’s level education

On 17 May, ACA held its jubilee European Policy Seminar (EPS) in Amsterdam, on the topic of Master’s level education in Europe – Towards a comprehensive approach from recruitment to graduation. As the title announced, the seminar provided a great opportunity to take stock of recent trends in graduate level education in Europe, but also in the US and to explore the path towards establishing the necessary links between a variety of Master’s level activities that are often carried out in isolation of each other, namely marketing, admissions, student services and alumni relations.

The programme included a plenary session providing

  • an update on Master’s level education in Europe, by Bernd Wächter, of ACA;
  • a diagnosis of the European disconnect at Master’s level, by Linda Johnson, from the International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam;
  • a view from the US and an essential introduction of the concept of Graduate Enrolment Management (GEM) – an established model built on the student life cycle and aiming to put an end to the traditional silos in which university services often operate by bringing all stakeholders to work together – done by Joshua LaFave and Christopher Connor from the State University of New York at Potsdam and Buffalo, respectively;

As well as 3 parallel sessions, the first on Marketing and recruitment at Master’s level, featuring

  • three very interesting case studies – one from the Politecnico di Milano, by Dora Longoni, showcasing a successful integrated approach for marketing and admissions; the second from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), by Xiaohong Tong, giving a sneak peak in VUB’s recruitment channels and its strategic approach in China; and the third from the University of Buffalo – School of engineering and applied sciences, by Christopher Connor, on DO’s and DON’Ts in student recruitment;

the second parallel session, on Master’s level admissions, providing

  • an introduction of tools designed to support a new approach to Master’s level admissions, i.e. one based on the assessment of competencies, spanning from the Mastermind Europe project – by Kees Kouwenaar, of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam;
  • a deep dive into understanding the usefulness and predictive value of TOEFL and GRE test scores, by Mavi Calabrese, of ETS Global;
  • an overview of the ‘Virtual organisation’ and the online assessment of foreign qualifications in Sweden – by Elisabeth Sundelin and John Evans from the Swedish Council of Higher Education.

and last, but not least, the third parallel session, on Services for Master’s students included

  • an overview of needs and expectations of Master’s level students, by Lea Meister, of the European Students’ Union (ESU);
  • guidelines for enhancing the Master’s students’ experience, by Elspeth Jones, from the Leeds Beckett University;
  • an immersion into the tetralogy of student services approach at the State University of New York at Potsdam, by Joshua LaFave.

The seminar concluded with a panel discussion on the way forward to an integrated approach in Master’s level education, including an essential EU policy update by Julie Anderson, from the European Commission.

The conversations throughout the day clearly showed that

  • While GEM is generally becoming standard practice in the US and there is a general awareness of this topic within American universities, in Europe, most universities are still just beginning to delve into this process.
  • However, the kind of challenges that universities on the two continents face when embarking on the GEM path are rather similar, and both require:

o Clear ownership of the process and a clear driver

o Bringing all important stakeholders around the table, including the students

o Setting realistic expectations and a timeline, as setting the foundations for a GEM approach takes time (approx. 7-8 years)

o Building on the process gradually

So there is definitely scope for further exchange of practice and experiences between universities in Europe and the US, but also globally, on the topic of Graduate Enrollment Management. 

All presentations can be accessed by clicking on the speakers’ names above, or via this link.

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