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Finding ways to identify and promote synergies between HEIs and local cities and regions is one of the goals of the next OECD conference in Seville Spain


The OECD Conference in Seville on the 10-11 February 2011 aims to identify and promote the best ways HEIs can contribute to the social, economic and cultural development of their local regions and cities.


The time of higher education institutions (HEIs) living as islands and pursuing knowledge for its own sake is over. In the knowledge economy, HEIs need to be drivers of the economic development of their local regions and cities.  In addition, the global economic and financial crisis means OECD countries are increasingly looking for ways to support higher education institutions to do more to help the local and national economy.


The next OECD conference “Higher Education in Cities and Regions: For Stronger, Cleaner and Fairer Regions”, is an opportunity for HEIs to leave their islands and engage with the relevant stakeholders in regional and city development. Based on the OECD Reviews of Higher Education in Regional and City Development, carried out all over the world since 2005, policy makers and higher education experts will discuss how governments can mobilise HEIs to better support local economic, social, and cultural development.


HEIs can play a key role in promoting innovation and human capital development. (For those of you who don’t speak economic terminology, human capital development is essentially a way to increase people’s productivity through education and training). By playing this role, HEIs can be effective drivers of national and international excellence by building internationally competitive regions. Cluster theory fans, this is your conference.


In France, for example, a recent report found that universities in cities were booming. The formation of research and higher education clusters, known as PRES (pôles de recherche et d'enseignement supérieur), enabled the Ile-de-France and other dominant regions to obtain large-scale infrastructure and equipment necessary to develop scientific and technological research.


No (wo)man is an island, and no university stands without its region. The upcoming conference will promote the idea that similarly, no country stands, (or at least stays competitive), without its higher education institutions. A partnership worth working on.


For more information, check out the conference website.


The illustrious list of speakers include:

With all the competition to get into the right universities to secure the best jobs, secondary school students are often encouraged to take after-school classes in subjects already taught in school to help them improve their marks—even if that means forsaking other fun and interesting ways of spending after-school hours, such as playing sports, taking music lessons or volunteering at a local community centre or hospital. But, in the end, to what extent does that investment in after-school classes pay off?


A new OECD report, based on results from the 2006 Programme for International Student Assessment survey, has a somewhat surprising answer. Quality Time for Students: Learning In and Out of School finds that 15-year-old students in countries that perform well in PISA spend less time, on average, in after-school lessons and individual study, and more time in regular school classes, than students in countries that are poor performers in PISA (see the graph attached). And this is particularly true when the time students spend in regular school lessons is considered as a share of total learning time. Since the types and purpose of after-school lessons vary widely, it could, of course, be that some students who are not performing well in a given subject attend after-school lessons to catch up with their classmates. However, the evidence also suggests that it is the quality of regular school lessons, not the quantity of learning hours, that has the most impact on student performance.


While PISA results show that some types of after-school classes are related to better performance, they could also reinforce existing inequalities among different socio-economic groups of students. For example, in some countries, lessons led by a school teacher tend to reduce the impact of students’ socio-economic background on their performance in school, since disadvantaged students are more likely to attend this type of lesson and are then, in turn, more likely to achieve higher scores in regular school than students who do not participate in any after-school lessons. Meanwhile, group lessons led by a teacher who is not from the regular school tend to reinforce the impact of socio-economic background on performance, since advantaged students can better afford the fees for this type of lesson and they are then more likely to achieve higher scores than students who do not participate in any after-school lessons.


But effective learning is not just about what is available to students; the students, themselves, have to contribute something: their belief that doing well in a particular subject is important. PISA 2006 asked students whether they believed that doing well in science is important. Results showed conclusively that when students believe so, spending more time in science classes in school is the most efficient way of improving their performance.


Join the discussion: Do you think after-school lessons are a good invesment?


Quality Time for Students: Learning In and Out of School, ISBN 978-92-64-08754-5 (print)

ISBN 978-92-64-08705-7 (PDF), will be available at in February 2011.

We know it’s hard to keep up with the steady flow of OECD education research. With so many publications recently released, and many still in the pipeline for 2011, we thought we’d point you to some of the most popular publications of 2010.

1. PISA Results Reveals Wide Differences in Education Outcomes


Perhaps our most anticipated education data of the year, the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results proved what we’ve known all along: education is a good investment. PISA evaluated the quality, equity, and efficiency of school systems around the world representing nine-tenths of the world economy. Videos were jointly produced by the OECD and the Pearson Foundation and featured Ontario, Canada; Shanghai, China; Finland and Poland. These education systems were chosen as examples either for their strong performance in the OECD’s PISA or for their improvement in performance over the past years.

2. Back to School, OECD-Style: Education at a Glance


To kick off the 2010-2011 school year, we released Education at a Glance, the OECD Education Directorate’s flagship publication. The report is full of facts about public education spending, individual costs of education, teacher salaries, parent choices in education and much, much more.

3. Education Today: One-Stop Shopping for OECD Messages on Education


The new and improved version of Education Today provides quick snap shots of OECD policy messages on education in eight areas: early childhood education, schooling, transitions beyond initial education, higher education, adult learning, outcomes and returns, equity, and innovation.

4. Trends Shaping Education

Education is not an island. Trends Shaping Education brings together international evidence to address questions like: How can education adapt to increasingly diverse societies? How is globalization affecting economic power and the demand for higher education?

5. Language Classes Are Not Enough: OECD Reviews of Migrant Education

The report OECD Reviews of Migrant Education: Closing the Gap for Immigrant Students examines policies that provide better opportunities and outcomes for migrant students. Many of its policy recommendations focus on tools to improve education for migrants without additional funding.


Have you kept up with us? We’re impressed if you did! Here are some previews of what’s in store for 2011:

  • A must read for internet enthusiasts: Connected Minds: How learners’ attachment to digital media is influencing education
  • PISA fans rejoice: we will release PISA Volume VI and the PISA 2009 Technical Report
  • It just keeps getting better: The 2011 version of Education at a Glance will be released, our annual bestseller
  • Bringing it all back home…to the classroom: The OECD’srichly illustrated collection of the world’s best school and university buildings,Designing for Education: 4th Compendium of Exemplary Educational Facilities

    Keep track of all of our new work at the OECD ilibrary.

To help you keep up with education insights from around the world, follow @OECD_Edu on Twitter for our daily updates. For an overview of  OECD work on education, check out our online brochure.

The IMHE General conference, Education Ministerial, and release of new PISA results made 2010 a busy (and exciting!) year. With 2011 upon us, we’d like to share some of our favorite blog posts from the past year. The educationtoday blog is just one of the ways we’re sharing new OECD research, projects, and collaborations to encourage engagement with stakeholders in education (i.e. everyone). We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our weekly musings as much as we’ve enjoyed writing them.


Drumroll please…


3. Raise Your Hand


With over 27,000 votes and 325 ideas submitted from 90+ countries, the Raise Your Hand “ideas marketplace” allowed the public to tell us what they thought were the most important actions to take in education. The winning five ideas stressed the importance of teaching students to think critically and providing access to high quality education for all children. We weren’t surprised to see the PISA results come out just a few months later with similar conclusions!


2. IMHE General Conference

The International Management in Higher Education (IMHE) General Conference, “Doing More with Less” allowed many guest bloggers to share their views with us on educationtoday:

Heather Eggins provoked us to think not only about education, but also about globalization and social justice in a time of financial crisis.

Michele Asha Cooper contributed her thoughts on the Global Achievement Gap.

Bahram Bekhradnia emphasized the challenges that come with vested interests when trying to reform higher education.

Marilyn Leask questioned the current management practices in the academic world.

And finally, Charles Reed outlined the immense challenges higher education institutions face in a time of budget cuts.


A big thank you to all of our fantastic contributors!

1. PISA Reveals Wide Differences in Educational Outcomes

Of course, the PISA results were the icing on a giant cake this year. Five volumes of comparative international data evaluated the quality, equity, and efficiency of school systems in 65 OECD member countries and economies.

watch the video

read the blogpost by Andreas Schleicher


With more than nine-tenths of the world economy represented, the results revealed wide differences in education outcomes. The best performing education systems embraced individualised approaches to learning, set clear and ambitious standards, and involved more stakeholders in the policy-making process. At no surprise to Raise Your Hand voters, the results stressed the importance of ensuring that every student can benefit from high-quality learning.


Looking forward to 2011, which marks  the OECD’s 50th anniversary, we will continue to work towards developing “better policies for better lives.” With more countries involved with the OECD (including four new members and several Enhanced Engagement countries), it is important for us to provide even more opportunities to learn from and communicate with the people to whom OECD research is intended to impact. The educationtoday platform will help increase our knowledge base and strengthen our work with these countries, ensuring that our work remains globally relevant and locally useful.


Thank you for your participation, and best wishes for a prosperous and productive new year.


Don’t miss our daily updates on Twitter at OECD_Edu.

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