HIGHER EDUCATION DECENTRALIZATION AND NATIONAL CONVERGENCE: ARE THEY COMPATIBLE? THE CASE OF SPAIN
Universidad de Granada (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Conference name: 2nd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-7 July, 2010
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:During the XXI century, the Bologna Process has aimed the creation of the European Higher Education Area. For that purpose, a series of reforms have been carried out to make European higher education more competitive, compatible and comparable. Those circumstances have commonly required comparisons among national indicators of higher education systems in order to choose the best applicable policies and to check their progress.
Spain is a country where education policies and competences are highly decentralized. This means that the governments of the seventeen community regions have a high influence in their own universities. The existence of very diverse education policies and programmes suggest that the indicators for the universities and their progress of each region could differ from the rest of them.
The purpose of this study is two-fold. On the one hand, to explore and try to explain the evolution over some years of certain relevant indicators related to human, material and financial resources in Spanish public HEIs in the different regions, using linear graphs for clearer and instant representations. On the other hand, to highlight the statistically significant differences among regions, making use of the Kruskal-Wallis test within the SPSS software package.
The main findings of this study suggest that the starting values of each region together with their rate of progress in these years have been very diverse due to miscellaneous regional policies. However, most regions in Spain follow the same general trend, which is specified in an increase in incomes, expenses and human resources per student. This trend is similar to the one generally in the European Union following the principles set by the Bologna Process.
Consequently, although certain degree of convergence can be deducted, there are still many significant differences regarding important indicators. This fact entails that, in the case of the higher education in Spain, the use of the national mean of each indicator as a measurement of all national universities is an unrepresentative figure and implies a notable loss in the information and biased comparisons.
Moreover, the uniqueness of this study involves important implications for managers in each university, for managers in the regional government and for European policy makers. For all of them, a cautious interpretation of statistics is suggested along with an understanding of regional differences. Finally, this study also set the question of the extent to which the current economic and financial crisis is going to affect both the resources and the management of the universities differently in each Spanish region.
Keywords: Higher Education, Spain, Indicators, Regions, Differences, Convergence.