About the Project
In addition to the national surveys ROA is coordinator of the REFLEX project, a large-scale European survey among higher education graduates. The REFLEX project is financed as a Specific Targeted Research Project (STREP) of the European Union’s Sixth Framework Programme. The project involves partners from fifteen countries (Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and the UK plus Belgium-Flanders, Czech Republic, Portugal, Switzerland, Japan and Estonia that have received funding from national sources). A parallel project using large parts of the REFLEX methodology is being undertaken in Russia and Latin America (Mexico, Colombia). The REFLEX data file is available for scientific research purposes, click here for more information on the project and the data request form.
Objectives of the project
The REFLEX project focuses on the demands that the modern knowledge society places on higher education graduates, and the degree to which higher education equips graduates with the competencies to meet these demands. Two recent major trends affect the demands that higher education graduates face. One involves the increasing emphasis on education and training, seen by many as the most important factor affecting economic growth (see for example World Bank, 2002). Another trend relates to changes in labour market processes. Schmid (2000) introduced the concept of the transitional labour market to indicate how in modern society, the demarcation lines between work, leisure time, education and care have been blurred, leading to increased mobility and flexibility patterns, to de-standardisation of the life course and to an overall focus on employability. This has clear implications for the kinds of demands made of higher education graduates. There are good reasons to believe that higher education graduates are expected to be more or less competent in at least the following four areas: professional expertise, functional flexibility, innovation and knowledge management and mobilisation of human resources.
Brief description of the project
In this project we will seek to answer the following questions:
- What competencies are needed to fulfil the abovementioned demands?
- How are these competencies related to characteristics of jobs and firms?
- To what extent do higher education graduates possess these competencies?
- To what extent has higher education provided (the basis for acquiring) these competencies?
- Do particular firm characteristics make it easier or harder for graduates to meet the demands?
- How do graduates and employers deal with discrepancies between acquired and required competencies?
- How do characteristics of graduates, higher education institutions, employers and the broader institutional, structural and cultural context affect the transition of the graduates to the labour market and later occupational outcomes?
To answer these questions, this project will develop a series of instruments: (1) a country study highlighting the main structural and institutional factors that shape the relation between higher education and work in nine European countries; (2) a qualitative study on graduate competences in the knowledge society; (3) a survey of higher education graduates in these countries.
Higher education policy has increasingly gained a European dimension with its own distinct influence over national education policies. It is clear that the Bologna declaration and the subsequent initiatives have put higher education in the centre of EU policy with the goal to create a “Europe of knowledge” (Lisbon European Council, March 2000). Universities play a vital role in this Europe of knowledge, as the recent communication of the Commission has made clear (European Commission, 2003). The results of the project, which will be disseminated in the form of several reports and memoranda, a working paper series, seminars and conferences among a broad public of scientists, policy makers and other stakeholders, are designed to provide a much-needed empirical basis for these discussions.
The REFLEX and HEGESCO data files are available for scientific research purposes. A request for the use of the data can be made by sending a completed Data Request Form to Timo Huijgen (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Students are allowed to use the REFLEX/HEGESCO data set for educational and/or research purposes. The data request however should be made by a university staff member.
Users of the files are bound by their national legislation on the processing and use of personal data. For European Community member states national legislations follow the EC directive 95/46/EC on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data. >> More info
Publications based on REFLEX or HEGESCO data may never contain information that can identify individual respondents or individual educational institutions.
More information on the HEGESCO project can be found at the HEGESCO website.
|1||Austria||Institut für Soziologie (IfS), Universität Klagenfurt|
|2||Belgium||Hoger Instituut voor de Arbeid (HIVA), Leuven, Belgium|
|3||Czech Republic||Education Policy Centre, Charles University Prague, Czech Republic|
|4||Estonia||Ministry of Education and Research, Estonia|
|5||Finland||Research Unit for the Sociology of Education (RUSE), University of Turku, Finland|
|6||France||Institut de Recherche sur l’Economie de l’Education (IREDU), Université de Bourgogne|
|7||Germany||International Centre for Higher Education Research Kassel (INCHER-Kassel), Universität Kassel|
|8||Italy||Istituto IARD Franco Brambilla|
|10||The Netherlands||Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA), University Maastricht|
|11||The Netherlands||Center for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS), Institute for Governance Studies, University of Twente|
|12||The Netherlands||DESAN Research Solutions|
|13||Norway||NIFU STEP, Studies in Innovation, Research and Education, Oslo|
|14||Portugal||CIPES, Centro de Investigação de Políticas do Ensino Superior|
|15||Spain||Centre for the Study of Higher Education Management (CEGES), Technical University of Valencia (UPVLC)|
|16||Switzerland||Bundesamt für Statistik|
|17||UK||Centre for Higher Education Research and Information (CHERI), The Open University, London|
Higher Education as a Generator of Strategic Competences
|The Flexible Professional in the Knowledge Society: New Challenges for Higher Education (rar file)|
|REFLEX Working paper 1 Conceptual Framework|
|REFLEX Working paper 2 Role of Self-Assessment of Skills|
|REFLEX Working paper 3 Higher Education and the Area of Work: Issues, Challenges and Responses in Norway and Germany|
|REFLEX Working paper 6 What affects international migration of European science and engineering graduates?|
|REFLEX Country Study, version 23-7-2007|
|Final report EU
The Flexible Professional in the Knowledge Society: General Results of the REFLEX Project
Wandel der Erwerbsarbeit in einer wissensbasierten Gesellschaft, Neue Herausforderungen an die Hochschulbildung in Europa
Graduates from Higher Education in Europe
Reflex report Norway
|Støren, Liv Anne & Per Olaf Aamodt (2010). The Quality of Higher Education and Employability of Graduates, Quality in Higher Education, 16 (3): 297–213.|
|Terje Næss, Terje, Støren, Liv Anne and Aris Kaloudis (2009). Lifelong learning and work-related training in Norway – an international perspective. Final report from the project ”Framework conditions for investments in training”. Rapport18/2009. Oslo: NIFU STEP.|
Reflex report Portugal
Schlüsselkompetenzen der Schweizer Hochschulabsolvent/innen
Thematischer Sammelband mit empirischen Ergebnissen der Absolventenstudie
Higher Education and Society. Chapter 2. The REFLEX study
|Journal of Education and Work, 23, 3, 275 – 296, ‘Less time to study, less well-prepared for work, yet satisfied with higher education: a UK perspective on links between higher education and the labour market’ Brenda Little, Lore Arthur|
|CHERI prepared a series of reports to compare the UK graduate outcomes with those of other European countries.|
|Labour Market Mismatch Among UK Graduates: An Analysis Using REFLEX Data, Seamus McGuinness, Peter J. Sloane, IZA discussion paper No. 4168|
|See www.iza.org under ‘Publications/discussion papers’|
|Employer and higher education perspectives on graduates in the knowledge society, London: Centre for Higher Education Research and Information, Open University and Enschede: Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies, University of Twente, July 2007, Lore Arthur, John Brennan and Egbert de Weert|
|Diversity in the student learning experience and time devoted to study: a comparative analysis of the UK and European evidence. Report to HEFCE by Centre for Higher Education Research and Information, The Open University, April 2009, John Brennan, Kavita Patel and Winnie Tang|
University World News. ‘Preparing graduates for the workplace’.