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The number and diversity of micro-credential offerings have expanded substantially in recent years, accelerated by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. This paper examines how higher education institutions envision the future of micro-credentials and notes current policy developments undertaken to support the successful integration of micro-credentials into higher education systems. It concludes by reflecting on the promises and challenges micro-credentials present to policy makers supporting their development.

This paper analyses a higher education policy issued in China in 2002: the Quality Assessment of Undergraduate Education Policy. The policy was designed with four main objectives: improvement, compliance, information and accountability. However, it has not completely fulfilled its objectives, especially regarding improvement and accountability, and it has had some unexpected consequences. Reflections on the quality assessment policy show that both inevitable and contingent factors have led to low efficiency. The authors identify the main reasons for this and propose ways to improve the policy based on the principles of the incremental and rational models of policy making and reform.


A diverse range of policies and practices are needed to promote quality assurance and improvement in early childhood education and care (ECEC) provision. These policies and practices need to be comprehensive, cover both structural and process aspects of quality and rely on strong institutions and data systems. They can satisfy the need for public accountability while also providing feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of individual services and the sector as a whole in order to inform further actions for improvement. Quality assurance and improvement policies are particularly important in the ECEC sector, which is often characterised by a “market approach” with a heavy reliance on private providers.

The procedures commonly employed for quality assurance in higher education are designed as if the endeavour were a technical process, whereas it may be more useful to view it as a political process. For example, quality assurance requires making choices among competing conceptions of quality, and in so doing privileges some interests over others. Moreover, some stakeholders tend to be given a greater voice than others in the design and implementation of quality assurance. The author concludes that rather than denying the political nature of quality assurance, it would be better to accept Morley’s claim that quality assurance is “a socially constructed domain of power”, and design procedures for it in a way that is appropriate for a political process. It is suggested that employing the “responsive model” of evaluation could make quality assurance more effective in improving educational quality. In the responsive model, evaluation is deemed to be a collaborative process that starts with the claims, concerns and issues put forth by all stakeholders.

The last decades have witnessed an increased concern in higher education over accountability, quality and productivity, and a struggle to meet increasingly complex challenges. This is more so in Middle East and North African (MENA) economies that witnessed a large expansion as a result of a high social demand and massification policies adopted by governments in public institutions. These policies also allowed the private sector to expand to meet the increasing demand. As a consequence, higher education institutions were faced with serious challenges related to quality because the quantitative expansions took place at the expense of quality (UNESCO, 2010). Although 14 out of 20 MENA economies established national bodies for quality assurance and accreditation, quality issues are still challenging higher education institutions in the region. The author presents the achievements, challenges and issues in quality in higher education in the region. She also briefly presents several international organisations’ initiatives and perspectives on quality in higher education in the region, and attempts to propose a set of suggestions and recommendations to move the systems to higher standards that are compatible with international ones.
This paper covers the following 20 economies in the MENA region: Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, the Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan*, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen. Please note that wherever the term “the region” is used in the article, it refers to these economies.

Most European countries have introduced systematic quality assurance as part of an overall governance reform aimed at enhancing universities’ autonomy. Researchers and economic entrepreneurs tend, however, to underestimate the political dimension of accreditation and evaluation when they consider the contribution of quality assurance to the economic competitiveness of universities and/or the economic system as a whole. I intend to shed light on this aspect of quality assurance by 1) analysing how the provision of quality assurance is constrained by the institutional setting in place, and 2) studying the implications of that constraint on the constitution of a national and international market of quality assurance agencies.

I begin the analysis by commenting on the political stake in the emergence of a German market of competing quality assurance agencies, then highlight the irreducible dimension of national politics in creating a European market of quality assurance agencies.


Medical education is not exempt from the increasing societal expectations of accountability and this is evidenced by an increasing number of litigation cases by students who are dissatisfied with their assessment. The time and monetary costs of student appeals makes it imperative that medical schools adopt robust quality assured assessment processes. The success of these processes depends on the ability of faculty to determine the necessary changes required and manage the change process. Openness to change is critical; therefore, identifying the processes that facilitate staff openness constitutes an important step in better understanding how higher education institutions can ensure that staff members are willing to support and engage in change initiatives. This paper examines the contribution of the three attributes of the change model (content, process and context) in relation to staff openness to the quality assurance processes of assessment changes that were implemented at the University of Tasmania’s School of Medicine.

This paper sets out to examine the impact of the quality of local and regional governments on the returns of investment, focusing on the returns of EU structural and cohesion funds. Despite the widespread belief that the quality of government affects the returns of public investments, whether this is effectively the case has seldom been proved. Using primary data on quality of government collected by the Quality of Government Institute, combined with World Bank Global Governance Indicators data, we conduct a two-way fixed effect panel regression model for a total of 169 in European regions during the period 1996 to 2007. The results of the analysis underline the importance of the quality of government both as a direct determinant of economic growth, as well as a moderator of the efficiency of structural and cohesion funds expenditure. Our analysis finds that both EU investments targeting regions and quality of government make a difference for regional economic growth, but that above a significant threshold level of expenditure, the quality of government is the key factor determining the returns of public investment. In many of the regions receiving the bulk of structural funds, greater levels of cohesion expenditure would, in the best case scenario, only lead to a marginal improvement in economic growth, unless the quality of government is significantly enhanced.

In this article we give a presentation of the Norwegian quality based financing (QBF) mechanism and our experiences with this financing mechanism. The article outlines the main features of the Norwegian health care system, and its financing mechanisms. We then focus in on the QBF with a description of the system and the main considerations on which the system is based. We give a short theoretical framework on how to design quality based financing systems, and show how the consequences can vary depending on the design of the system. The Norwegian system has been evaluated, and the main findings of this evaluation is discussed together with some tentative predictions about the future developments.

In this paper, we develop a likelihood approach for quantification of qualitative survey data on expectations and perceptions and we propose a new test for expectation consistency (unbiasedness). Our quantification scheme differs from existing methods primarily by using prior information (perhaps derived from economic theory or well established empirical relations) on the underlying process driving the variable of interest. To investigate the properties of our novel quantification scheme and to analyze the size and power properties of the new expectation consistency test, we perform Monte Carlo simulation studies. Overall, the simulation results are very encouraging and show that efficiency gains from including prior information can be substantial relative to existing quantification schemes. Finally, we provide an empirical illustration...

This paper presents a new methodology for the quantification of qualitative survey data. Traditional conversion methods, such as the probability approach of Carlson and Parkin (1975) or the time-varying parameters model of Seitz (1988), require very restrictive assumptions concerning the expectations formation process of survey respondents. Above all, the unbiasedness of expectations, which is a necessary condition for rationality, is imposed. Our approach avoids this assumptions. The novelty lies in the way the boundaries inside of which survey respondents expect the variable under consideration to remain unchanged are determined. Instead of deriving these boundaries from the statistical properties of the reference time-series (which necessitates the unbiasedness assumption), we directly queried them from survey respondents by a special question in the Ifo World Economic Survey. The new methodology is then applied to expectations about the future development of inflation obtained from the Ifo World Economic Survey.

This study analyses how domestic regulation affects trade in services through commercial presence and to what extent regulation, level and heterogeneity, has an impact on the choice of mode of servicing a foreign market for total services, financial services, transport, communication, computer, and other business services. Regulatory heterogeneity is found to have a relatively large impact on trade through commercial presence. If all countries in the sample harmonized or recognized each other’s regulation, total services trade through commercial presence could increase by between 13 and 30% depending on the country. The study also assesses what determines services suppliers’ choice of mode. Modes of supply are found to be complementary to various degrees. Commercial presence is more dominant the more similar a country pair is as far as regulation and business environment are concerned and countries sharing a common language are more likely to trade through commercial presence. For some sectors it is found that the disadvantage of remoteness is amplified by strict regulation. In most services sectors trade liberalisation generates meaningful market access only if commercial presence is allowed. Furthermore, absence of explicit barriers to trade and investment is not necessarily sufficient to attract foreign investors.

Innovation is key to reducing the environmental impacts of plastics. However, literature is generally lacking in the field of environmentally relevant plastics innovation. This paper develops an innovative conceptual framework to document and map environmentally relevant plastics innovation. Using this framework, it develops plastics innovation metrics using patents and trademarks to quantify trends over time, across countries, and to establish preliminary empirical links between policies and innovation outcomes.

Plastic waste prevention and recycling innovation has increased slightly more rapidly than overall plastics innovation. In contrast, innovation in bioplastics have witnessed a significant slowdown in recent years. Another key finding of this analysis is that environmentally relevant plastics innovation is concentrated in OECD countries and China and that top inventor countries are not specialized in the same technologies. Finally, the patent analysis shows some empirical evidence that recycling regulations may have triggered innovative activity in plastic recycling.

This paper presents a progress report on the Economics and Statistics Department's applied general equilibrium model -- the WALRAS model. This model has been developed with the explicit objective of quantifying the economy-wide effects of agricultural policies in OECD countries. The common specification of the model for the major OECD agricultural trading countries/regions (Australia, Canada, EEC, Japan, New Zealand and the United States) is described in detail. Results are presented for some preliminary simulations of the effects of removing the 1979-81 levels of agricultural assistance in these countries/regions. The initial results relate only to unilateral liberalisation experiments with the unlinked country/region models, with no account being taken of feedback effects through changes in world agricultural prices and trade volumes ...

This paper constructs a broad measure of financial conditions for the United States, Japan, the Euro Area and the United Kingdom, by extending monetary condition indices which are traditionally used to gauge the impact of monetary policy on the economy. In addition to changes in the exchange rate and short and long interest rates, the change in credit availability, corporate bond spreads and household wealth are taken into account to gauge the evolution of financial conditions. Since the onset of the financial crisis, financial conditions have tightened by an unprecedented degree in the four countries/regions and this is evaluated to exert a major drag on activity.
This paper constructs a broad measure of financial conditions for the United States which suggests that since the onset of the credit crisis there has been a marked tightening in financial conditions, despite a substantial easing of policy rates and a depreciation of the dollar. This measure of overall financial conditions includes interest rate spreads for riskier borrowers and a survey measure of the tightness of bank lending standards, which have been the main drivers behind the tightening in financial conditions. Indeed, recent data suggest that the trend deterioration in overall financial conditions has continued into the second half of 2008. The effect of the tightening in overall financial conditions already experienced may subtract 1¾ per cent from GDP over the next four to six quarters. Not only have financial conditions continued to worsen, but much of the impact on the real economy has yet to be felt.
Brazil remains a fairly closed economy, with small trade flows relative to its share of world income. This paper explores the effects of three possible policy reforms to strengthen Brazil’s integration into global trade: a reduction in import tariffs, less local content requirements and a full zero-rating of exports in indirect taxes. A simulation analysis using the OECD Multi-Region Trade CGE model suggests that current policies are holding back exports, production and investment in Brazil. The model simulations suggest significant scope for trade policy reforms to strengthen industrial development and export competitiveness. Results also show that the expansion of investment and production would be accompanied by significant employment gains. Moreover, employment growth is higher for low-skilled occupations, implying that a major trade and tax policy reform aiming at liberalising trade flows would particularly help those at the lower end of the income distribution.

Socio-economic cost-benefit analysis (CBA) is a powerful framework that can be very useful to governments making investment decisions. However the standard application of transport CBA has room for improvement. This paper describes efforts to improve the quality of transport CBA and its applicability to decision making. Three areas are addressed in detail: strategies for making the most of CBA, valuing and forecasting reliability benefits, and capturing wider economic impacts. The report is based on the papers and discussions at a Roundtable meeting of 30 experts held in Paris in November 2015. Roundtable participants took the view that a multi-faceted approach is needed to address the shortfalls; CBA theory and practice need to be gradually expanded to incorporate more impacts in the rigorous valuation and forecasting framework; and CBA results need to be more effectively linked to other criteria in the broader decision-making framework, including by bringing in a more diverse evidence base.

Significant progress has been made in quantifying the effects of non-tariff measures since OECD commissioned its last major review of this topic in 1997. This paper reviews the literature of NTMs and assesses the different methods available. Additionally, the paper develops a series of questions to help determine which method of analysis is best given the interests of the researchers or policy makers. Of the possible avenues of future research, the trade costs approach is offered. This approach has the potential of shedding new light on the interactions among various policies and practices by assessing which areas offer the greatest potential for gains, and improving the precision of available estimates.
What influences the adoption of transparency obligations in trade agreements, and what are its effects? This paper uses a new dataset on transparency provisions in over a hundred regional trade agreements (RTAs) to provide empirical evidence of the political economy determinants of international transparency commitments, as well as the trade impact of negotiating such transparency provisions in RTAs. The study finds that RTAs with deeper mechanisms for enhancing transparency appear to be more strongly trade-promoting than those with shallower commitments on transparency. Concretely, each additional transparency commitment negotiated in an RTA is associated with an increase in bilateral trade flows of more than one percent. Considering that comprehensive RTAs typically contain a dozen of such commitments, countries that opt for a comprehensive transparency agenda can expect to gain substantial increases in intra-regional trade. Moreover, the findings suggest that the readiness of trading partners to adhere to transparency norms is influenced by the quality of home institutions, which is consistent with a view that strengthening governance and regulatory capacities can contribute to a broader diffusion of transparency practices in international trade. Overall, the results of the analysis suggest that transparency should remain an important element of the trade agenda, both at the regional and multilateral levels.
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