A Changing Landscape
Edited by Andrea Bonaccorsi
Chapter 4: The research output of universities: conceptual and methodological problems
Research is considered as a central activity of higher education institutions (HEIs), the one being the most noble and valuable, giving them their specific character as academic institutions. Also, the rationale for launching a large-scale project on HEI statistics was by and large to better seize their contribution to the development of the European Research Area. Consequently, strong priority was given to the measurement of research output. This focus of the EUMIDA project should not be interpreted as a statement that research is the main output of universities. In particular, the important role of universities in providing a highly skilled labour force should not be neglected. In the context of a growing scarcity of university graduates in European countries this function is extremely important: the number of young highly skilled experts is decreasing for demographic reasons, while at the same time the demand for them is increasing due to the growing relevance of complex technologies for European competitiveness. Therefore, research is one important activity of HEIs but not the only one. A closer look at the landscape of HEIs reveals that their activities are not uniform. Rather, the different HEIs have different missions and-linked to that-different profiles. This diversity is the starting point for the so-called U-Map project where the different dimensions of the activities of HEIs are analysed using a sample of European HEIs.
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