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16 October 2023

SPARC Europe’s Latest Report: Insights into developments in Europe Open Education institutional policymaking

Image shows the front cover design of the SPARC Europe Report entitled Insights into developments in Europe Open Education institutional policymaking and features the SPARC logo

We are pleased to share a new Open Education report “Insights into developments in Europe Open Education institutional policymaking” produced and published by SPARC Europe. 

Drawing on insights from leading policymakers, participants of the SPARC Europe Open Education surveys, and other industry experts, the report investigates the question of how Open Education policymaking can shape the future of European Higher Education.  The report considers what is driving the OE policy movement forward and the barriers holding it back.  

The Open Education movement, particularly through the development of Open Educational Resources (OER) and Practices (OEP), has the potential to bridge the access gaps between students, educators, and academia. However, despite an increasing number of institutional policies in development and being implemented, the perception remains that progress is slow. 

The report advocates for adopting existing policies and building supportive coalitions. It is designed to provide an accessible summary for those considering developing a policy of their own, setting out some of the different approaches in Europe.   

Highlights from the report include: 

  • Libraries as change makers:  While libraries champion OE policy development, collaborating with technical and pedagogical experts accelerates progress and broadens educator engagement. 
  • Return on Investment and decision-making: Senior decision makers respond to framings which emphasise the return on investment to institutions, and how OERs safeguard their assets and help them deliver on its broader social and economic mission. 
  • Formal and informal support: national policies boost OE progress, but in their absence, institutions leverage networks and internal advocates to advance. 
  • The OE-OER-Open Science Nexus: In Europe, Open Education policies often link to Open Science, but diverging incentives and maturity lead to distinct OER policy developments. 
  • It doesn’t need to be about control: effective policies focus on enhancing staff skills to broaden material reach, rather than controlling content or increasing administrative tasks. 

Knowledge Equity Network Leads, Antonio Martinez-Arboleda and Nick Sheppard, were part of a global team who contributed to the report.   

Antonio Martinez-Arboleda, Professor of Digital and Open Education, said: “The report represents a step forward in the area of knowledge equity because it identifies existing barriers and affordances for Open Education. I expect our colleagues at Leeds and beyond, within the Knowledge Equity Network, including at leadership level, to learn from this report. We need to take action in search of collaborative synergies with other institutions, and with educators, researchers, organisations and communities to advance decisively the cause of Open Knowledge.”  

Nick Sheppard, Open Research Advisor at the University of Leeds, said: “I am very pleased that this report recognises the huge potential of linking the open education and open science movements, and highlights that these complementary initiatives need to be more strategically aligned.  It surfaces some really interesting and inspiring case studies at leading institutions that can help us move towards a more joined up approach to ‘Open’ across the sector.” 

The report closely aligns with the ambitions of the Declaration on Knowledge Equity in supporting the move towards published educational material being open and freely accessible for all to use and reuse for teaching, learning, and research.    

SPARC Europe encourages collaboration in seeking out policies already in place at other institutions and to work with peers within and beyond institutions and national boundaries.  We hope the Knowledge Equity Network can help support this important collaborative movement towards more open education policy development.    

The full report can be downloaded here.