Authors: Dr Bente Nørgaard, Associate Professor
Universities: Aalborg University
Academic publication/Link to full research:
Work in progress paper – which means the scope of the paper was discussed among peers at the IACEE World Conference 2021 – International Association for Continuing Engineering Education.
25-28 May 2021
Hosted by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
Workshop – SEFI Annual Conference 2022, A Panoramic View of Strategy, Organisation and Practice in Continuing Engineering Education. See the accepted abstract for the workshop:sefi2022-WS-submitted-1
The European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI) celebrates its 50th Annual Conference in September 2022, hosted by the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya · BarcelonaTech (UPC).
Continuing education is often referred to among universities’ third mission activities – a strategy aiming at interacting with society, which many universities find extremely challenging. However, most Scandinavian universities provide continuing education programs but the diversity is great and in general collaboration with industries is a rather new ‘business’ activity for many universities. Currently, activities for developing new processes, methods and paradigms for cross-collaboration (knowledge flow) are seeing the light of the day at universities within the Scandinavian countries. We interviewed 10 different technical universities in the five Scandinavian countries with an aim to map the Scandinavian universities’ activities within STEM continuing education. With a main focus on strategies and current practices of continuing education but also identify trends in cross-collaboration and a new paradigm for knowledge flow between universities, industries and professional engineers.
The study is explorative following the thematic areas that formed the basis of the interviews 1) Uncover the current practice of CEE and 2) Institutional and (national) strategy for the delivery of CEE. Questions asked; How is CEE organised? What teaching approaches is applied? How do you meet/read the demand? What is the incentive structure for academic staff to enter CEE activities? Questions asked within the 2 thematical areas are such as; What is your institution’s strategy / is there an elaborated strategy on CEE? Is there a need for ‘new’ teaching/learning approaches for CEE? Are there other challenges ahead that I have not mentioned? Looking in the ‘crystal ball’ what will be the future of CEE?
The findings are relevant to universities’ conduction or entering the scene of STEM continuing education. The mapping shows what Nordic universities are doing within the area of continuing education – more precisely the practice of CE and, the institutional strategy and organisation of CE.
There are typically two possible organizations for CE at Nordic universities. Which is either a university internal unit or eternal units, such as holding companies. Universities organised in internal units mostly organize ‘Open University’ programs defined by activities that provide ECTS credits. These activities range from offering an ‘empty seat’ in ordinary education to a professional master’s programme. The Internal units most often meet a need for individual enrolment. The extern unites also offer the above mentioned ‘Open University’ activities but besides they are highly involved in organising commercial or no credits activities. At one of the interviewed universities continuing education was organised with a decentralized structure at faculties and departments level. The university has only very few activities most often activities related to or are a direct part of their ordinary education.
There is a notable difference in whether strategies for CE have been drawn up at the various universities. Some interviewees expressed uncertainty as to whether such strategies exist – if their university has an explicit strategy for continuing education. Other universities have more or less explicit strategies but e.g. a respondent replied that 10 – 12 years ago the government decided to really push CE, which had an impact on universities. Other respondents say that competences and CE are really on the political agenda. But that there must be developed a new model – also for whom to pay. There is a general consensus that there is a need and demand for continuing education from universities.
Expanded research description:
STRATEGIES, PRACTICES AND TRENDS IN CONTINUING ENGINEERING EDUCATION AT SCANDINAVIAN UNIVERSITIES
The empirically data is gathered as an activity within the Erasmus+ Strategic Alliance Project STEM skills and competences for the new generation of Nordic Engineers (Nordic Engineers). A qualitative methodological approach will be applied, based on face-to-face and on-line semi-structures interviews (Kvale, 1997) with actors in continuing education such as leaders, teachers and researchers in the field of CEE. One week before the interview, the respondents received information on the interview, including the thematic areas that the interview will include.
The study is explorative following the thematic areas that formed the basis of the interviews 1) Uncover the current practice of CEE and 2) Institutional and (national) strategy for the delivery of CEE. Questions asked within the 1 thematical area is such as; How is CEE organised? What teaching approaches is applied? How do you meet/read the demand? What are the incentive structure for academic staff to enter CEE activities? Questions asked within the 2 thematical area is such as; What is your institution strategy / is the an elaborated strategy on CEE? Is there a need for ‘new’ teaching / learning approaches for CEE? Are there other challenges ahead that I have not mentioned? Looking in the ‘crystal ball’ what will be the future of CEE?
The interviews were conducted by one person and transcribed and analysed by means of NVivo. On average, each interview lasted about 45 minutes. The institutions and respondents were selected by local professors who are also partners of the Nordic Engineers. The 10 Nordic universities is:
KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden)
Mälardalens högskola (Sweden)
Danish Technical University (Denmark)
Aalborg University (Denmark)
Aalto University Design Factory (Finland)
Lappeenranta University (Finland)
Reykjavik University (Iceland)
Iceland University (Iceland)
University of Stavanger (Norway)
Trondheim NTNU (Norway)This ‘work-in-progress’ will present different strategies, practices and trends for universities’ continuous engineering education and compare different perceptions from different groups, actors and countries and provide perceptions of – what is currently lacking in CEE and what may be the future, based on trends.
Partners of Nordic Engineers:
- KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden)
- Aalborg University (Denmark)
- Aalto University Design Factory (Finland)
- Reykjavik University (Iceland)
- University of Stavanger (Norway)
- Association of Nordic Engineers, ANE
The project was financed by the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership programme and additional funding from the involved universities.
The European Commission’s support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.