In discussing empirical bases for the social sciences in the recently released World Social Science Report, Richard Rockwell argued very convincingly that at the present time :
“inductive, observation-based social science research… dominates in the universities and research centres of the west and is rising in importance elsewhere” (Rockwell 1999: 157).
This type of research orientation cannot exist without empirical data either derived from existing data sources or obtained in the process of scientific inquiry. Not surprisingly, the recent growth of various data bases, the application of newly developed technologies and, last, but not least, increasing interest in the use (and misuse) of data as reflected in scholarly literature, all point to the importance of data for social science research, both theoretical and applied.
In this paper an attempt will be made to examine the existence and availability of social science data in Europe, and the problems of accessibility to existing data sources and data banks.
Although this report is not aimed specifically at academics or language specialists, the issues raised in it and the recommendations proposed for discussion are based on theoretical considerations about language, culture and society, pedagogy and didactics, and human and machine communication. For reasons of legibility, many of these more theoretical aspects have been put in appendices or in footnotes rather than in the body of the report. My personal position is that language diversity, for many reasons, is the only acceptable way forward, and I make no apology for that. Others may disagree. Language diversity does not, however, mean that a lingua franca should not or could not also be promoted, where appropriate. The aim of the report is therefore to provoke discussion, debate, disagreement, to provide the opportunity for practitioners and decision-makers to air their different views and hopefully work towards a common ground on which to build policies. References to certain recommendations are made throughout the report: they have been grouped together under various headings at the end.
The term ‘borderless education’ encompasses a wide range of activities,from online Since many of these activities emanate from the newproviders of post-secondary education and programs, off-shore campuses,technology-assisted teaching, and franchising of curricula. training,often for-profit institutions or commercial arms of non-profituniversities, borderless education segues into ‘the business ofeducation’ That brings the activities of organisations supportinge-learning, whether vendors of learning management platforms orpublishers of digital material, into our purview as well.
These new providers were and are perceived as ‘clear and presentdangers’ to research universities. Three years ago, business analystssuch as Morgan Keegan were predicting billion dollar education andtraining markets for global players in education, on the premise thatemployers would demand qualifications to validate the skills of theirworkforce, that employees would embrace lifelong learning to ensure acompetitive edge in continued employment, and that the digitalrevolution would make learning accessible to an eager global studentbody. The relatively cheap entry costs of online start-ups in a climatewhen capital raising in the dot.com euphoria was easy, allowed theproliferation of small, undercapitalised commercial firms, andhome-grown projects in many universities.
"Lessons learned and recommendations for the future"
Voldemar Tomusk, Higher Education Support Program, Open Society Institute, Budapest
This report offers an attempt to identify the main directions of higher education reforms in the formerly state-socialist countries in Eastern Europe since 1989. Based on various countries’ reform efforts the report identifies the main causes of slowing down and eventually reversing the initial reform initiatives. It goes on to draw a number of recommendations for possible cooperation between higher education systems that once stood on different sides of the iron curtain between East and West.
The evidence on which this report is based from various internationally published scholarly papers on higher education reform and related topics as well as unpublished reports and internationally inaccessible locally published materials. The report also relies on the personal experience of its author who has been involved in East European higher education since 1988 - starting as a senior lecturer, later as a researcher and government official, and since 1995 at the international level as a program manager of the Open Society Institute, Budapest.