Francisco López Rupérez: “The training of intermediate levels of government contributes decisively to the improvement of the quality of education”

Francisco López Rupérez is the director of the UCJC Chair of Educational Policies and former president of the State School Council.

Question. The UCJC Master’s on Policies and Governance of Educational Systems will start in the upcoming academic year Why is this degree necessary now?

Answer. Faced with the demands and challenges of the 21st century -increased by the effects that the pandemic will leave behind- the success in defining educational reforms and in their implementation constitutes an indisputable requirement of government action. There is a broad consensus among specialists in the sense that capacity building, that is, the formation of intermediate levels of government, contributes decisively to improving the quality of governance. For this reason, UCJC, through its Chair on Educational Policies, has launched this new postgraduate degree aimed at the Spanish-speaking world.

Q. What is understood by educational governance? Does it have any influence on student performance?

A. Governance is an “umbrella” term, as it covers many meanings and is applied to a wide variety of sectors and contexts. In the field of education policy and according to a first definition of the World Bank “governance is the ability of governments to design, formulate and implement public policies correctly and exercise their functions”. When applied to the education system as a whole, one can speak of “educational governance” in a broad sense.

Educational governance concerns all the components of the system, and its cascading effects through the different macro, meso and micro-organisational levels end up reaching, particularly, each student individually (nano). Although there are no rigorous empirical studies that measure the degree of influence the quality of governance of systems has on students’ result – in fact, a first instrument for assessing this quality, at the international level, was developed in 2017 by the UCJC Chair on Educational Policies – we believe it does have some bearing.

In this regard, it is necessary to distinguish between the intensity of the impact and its scope. Intensity has to do with the strength of the relationship between an influencing factor and performance -or its improvement- considered on average. The scope is measured by the extent of the population to which this influence reaches. The relevance of a factor, in terms of impact, will therefore depend on the intensity multiplied by scope.

Thus, and even when educational governance operates indirectly through a diversity of intermediate levels until reaching the nano level, it is a very relevant factor since it affects, to a greater or lesser extent, all students.

Q. Who is this master’s degree aimed at?

A. The Master’s Degree in Education Policy and Governance is aimed at all those actors in the educational world with responsibilities in the conception, implementation or assessment of policies, as well as those others who aim to exercise them in the future. For example, graduates in education, politics or sociology who intend to train to develop positions of analysts and project managers in nongovernmental organisations and in education foundations.

School principals and education inspectors. Teaching advisers and technical advisers in public institutions and educational administrations. Candidates for starting positions in international organisations with competencies in education.