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New Perspectives for Learning - Briefing Paper 68

The Flexible Professional in the Knowledge Society

 This is the initial Briefing Paper of the project that started in March 2004

Context of the Research

As Europe and the rest of the world moves towards a knowledge society, an effective system of higher education is increasingly important to the economy and society. However, ambiguity as to the meaning of the knowledge society is reflected in tensions in demands made of higher education graduates who are expected to fulfil key positions in the knowledge society. These workers need to possess the advanced specialized knowledge and skills required of modern high-level professionals, but are also often expected to be highly flexible and adaptable, able and willing to take up challenges not closely related to the specific field in which they have been trained. The knowledge society appears to require a new kind of worker: the flexible professional.

The project involves partners from eleven countries (Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and the UK plus Switzerland and Japan that have received funding from national sources).

Key Issues

The project addresses three broad and interrelated questions: -

It will develop a series of instruments designed to provide the information required to answer these questions. This includes: -

The results of the project will be disseminated in the form of several reports and memoranda, a working paper series, seminars and conferences among a broad public of scientists, policy makers and other stakeholders.

Further Information

The full title of the project is: “The Flexible Professional in the Knowledge Society”. The final report is due in February 2007. Interim results will be published from January 2006 in a working paper series.

The project web site at

This is a Specific Targeted Research Project (STREP).  The maximum EU financial contribution to this project will be 1.050.000 Euro for a total duration of 36 months.

Research Institutions

Institut für Soziologie (IfS), Universität Klagenfurt, Austria
Research Unit for the Sociology of Education (RUSE), University of Turku, Finland
Institut de Recherche sur l’Economie de l’Education (IREDU), Université de Bourgogne, France
Wissenschaftliches Zentrum für Berufs- und Hochschulforschung, Universität Gesamthochschule Kassel, Germany
Istituto IARD Franco Brambilla, Italy
Kyushu University, Japan
Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA), University Maastricht, The Netherlands
Center for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS), Institute for Governance Studies, University of Twente, The Netherlands
DESAN Research Solutions, The Netherlands
Norwegian Institute for Studies in Research and Higher Education (NIFU), Oslo, Norway
CIPES, Centro de Investigação de Políticas do Ensino Superior, Portugal
Centre for the Study of Higher Education Management (CEGES), Technical University of Valencia (UPVLC), Spain
Bundesamt für Statistik, Switzerland
Centre for Higher Education Research and Information (CHERI), The Open University, United Kingdom

Contact Person

Dr. Rolf van der Velden
Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market, University Maastricht
PO Box 616
6200 MD Maastricht

Tel: +31 43 3883647
Fax: +31 43 3884914


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Last updated 28 June 2007