Higher education in a material world: Constraints to digital innovation in Portuguese universities and polytechnic institutes

Abstract

Over the past decade, the societal impact of digital transformation, with the prospects of a Fourth Industrial Revolution, has led to an innovation imperative in European policymaking regarding higher education institutions (HEIs). However, not only is the institutional strategic planning of HEIs still understudied, as the individual perceptions of faculty members about existing constraints to digital innovation have been particularly overlooked. This article examines Portuguese universities and polytechnic institutes, the two components of the national higher education system, to (1) characterize the quality of the available digital infrastructure and resources (hardware and software) and (2) identify the main constraints to digital innovation. The study conducts the most comprehensive online questionnaire available to date on these topics across Portuguese HEIs (N = 547). The main constraints to digital innovation correspond to limited infrastructure and resources, lack of funding opportunities, insufficient technological resources, a conservative academic culture, and a lack of technical support. These barriers impact Portuguese regional development, as discussed in this study, highlighting the need for the modernization of HEIs.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

References

  1. Altbach, P. G. (2016). Global perspectives on higher education. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Alves, J., Carvalho, L., Carvalho, R., Correia, F., Cunha, J., Farinha, L., et al. (2015). The impact of polytechnic institutes on the local economy. Tertiary Education and Management, 21(2), 81–98. https://doi.org/10.1080/13583883.2014.999110.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Ávila, L. V., Filho, W. L., Brandli, L., Macgregor, C. J., Molthan-Hill, P., Özuyar, P. G., & Moreira, R. M. (2017). Barriers to innovation and sustainability at universities around the world. Journal of Cleaner Production, 164, 1268–1278. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.07.025.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Blaschke, S., Frost, J., & Hattke, F. (2014). Towards a micro foundation of leadership, governance, and management in universities. Higher Education, 68, 711–732. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-014-9740-2.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Bond, M., Marín, V. I., Dolch, C., Bedenlier, S., & Zawacki-Richter, O. (2018). Digital transformation in German higher education: Student and teacher perceptions and usage of digital media. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, 15(48). https://doi.org/10.1186/s41239-018-0130-1.

  6. Brennan, J., Broek, S., Durazzi, N., Kamphuis, B., Ranga, M., & Ryan, S. (2014). Study on innovation in higher education: final report. European Commission Directorate for education and training study on innovation in higher education. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.

  7. Brennan, J., Cochrane, A. C., Lebeau, Y., & Williams, R. K. (2018). The university in its place: Social and cultural perspectives on the regional role of universities. Dortrecht: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Caniëls, M., & van den Bosch, H. (2010). The role of higher education institutions in building regional innovation systems. Papers in Regional Science, 90(2), 271–287. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1435-5957.2010.00344.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Commission, European. 2018. COM(2018)22 final on the Digital Education Action Plan. In. Brussels: European Comission. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=COM:2018:22:FIN

  10. Dias, A., & Gomes, M. J. (2018). A wake-up call for B-learning in Portuguese higher education. In Chova et al. (Eds.), 10th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies: EDULEARN18 (pp. 7944–7954). IATED Academy.

  11. Direção Geral do Ensino Superior (DGES). (2017). Study & research in Portugal. https://www.study-research.pt/en/dashboard/. Accessed March 23 2020.

  12. Direção Geral do Ensino Superior (DGES). (2018). Higher education research and innovation in Portugal: Perspectives for 2030. Lisboa: DGES https://www.dges.gov.pt/sites/default/files/portugal_teri_system_rev_v14fev2018_v3_com_capa-compressed.pdf. Accessed March 23 2020.

    Google Scholar 

  13. European Commission (2014). Higher education institutions (HEIs) as centers of regional development and innovation: ET 2020 working group on modernisation of higher education. https://ec.europa.eu/transparency/regexpert/index.cfm?do=groupDetail.groupDetailDoc&id=28229&no=5. Accessed March 23 2020.

  14. European Commission. (2018). Communication from the commission to the European Parliament, the council, the European economic and social committee, and the Committee of the Regions on the digital education action plan: COM(2018) 22 final. Brussels: European Commission.

  15. European Higher Education Area (EHAE). (1999). The Bologna Declaration of 19 June 1999. http://www.magna-charta.org/resources/files/text-of-the-bologna-declaration. Accessed March 23 2020.

  16. Fernandes, J., Cunha, J., & Oliveira, P. (2013). The socioeconomic impact of an HEI for a local economy. In B. Boufoy-Bastick (Ed.), The international handbook of cultures of education policy (Vol. 1, pp. 557–575). Strasbourg: Analytics.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Ferreira, L. M., & Amaral, L. (2019). Índice Digital Regional 2018 [Regional Digital Index 2018]. Gávea – Observatório da Sociedade da Informação. Guimarães: Universidade do Minho.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Figueiredo, H., Biscaia, R., Rocha, V., & Teixeira, P. (2017). Should we start worrying? Mass higher education, skill demand and the increasingly complex landscape of young graduates’ employment. Studies in Higher Education, 42(8), 1401–1420. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2015.1101754.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. File, J. (2008). Higher education in Portugal: IHEM country report. Enschede: Center for Higher Education Policy Studies.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Flores, M. A., Brown, G., Pereira, D., Coutinho, C., Santos, P., & Pinheiro, C. (2019). Portuguese university students’ conceptions of assessment: Taking responsibility for achievement. Higher Education, 79, 377–394. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-019-00415-2.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Fox, R. (2011). Technological practice and change in education. In R. Kwan et al. (Eds.), enhancing learning through technology. education unplugged: Mobile technologies and Web 2.0. ICT 2011. Communications in computer and information science (Vol. 177, pp. 1–7). Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-22383-9_1.

    Google Scholar 

  22. García, L. M., & Roblin, N. P. (2008). Innovation, research, and professional development in higher education: Learning from our own experience. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24(1), 104–116. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2007.03.007.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Governo da República Portuguesa. (2017). Programa nacional para a coesão territorial [National program for territorial cohesion]. https://www.portugal.gov.pt/pt/gc21/governo/programa/programa-nacional-para-a-coesao-territorial-/ficheiros-coesao-territorial/programa-nacional-para-a-coesao-territorial-pdf.aspx

  24. Harrison, H. D., & Hargrove, M. J. (2006). Aging faculty: Workforce challenges and issues facing higher education. Business Perspectives, 18(2), 20–25.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Hasanefendic, S., Birkholz, J. M., Horta, H., & van der Sijde, P. (2017). Individuals in action: Bringing about innovation in higher education. European Journal of Higher Education, 7(2), 101–119. https://doi.org/10.1080/21568235.2017.1296367.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Kauko, J., & Diogo, S. (2012). Comparing higher education reforms in Finland and Portugal. Higher Education Management and Policy, 23(3), 1–20. https://doi.org/10.1787/17269822.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Kezar, A. J. (2018). Asset-based or burden-based views of senior and retired faculty: How values translate into culture and shape practice and policies. New Directions for Higher Education, 182, 57–67. https://doi.org/10.1002/he.20280.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Kezar, A. J., & Eckel, P. D. (2002). The effect of institutional culture on change strategies in higher education: Universal principles or culturally responsive concepts? The Journal of Higher Education, 73(4), 435–460. https://doi.org/10.1080/00221546.2002.11777159.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Kraft, R. H. P. (1971). Technological change and educational obsolescence: Challenges to administrators as managers of change. International Review of Education, 17(3), 309–323. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01421380.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Lašáková, A., Bajzíková, L., & Dedze, I. (2017). Barriers and drivers of innovation in higher education: Case study-based evidence across ten European universities. International Journal of Educational Development, 55, 69–79. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijedudev.2017.06.002.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Lee, H.-F., & Miozzo, M. (2019). Which types of knowledge-intensive business services firms collaborate with universities for innovation? Research Policy, 48(7), 1633–1646. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2019.03.014.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Luehrmann, A. (1989). Technological innovations in higher education: Are they possible? Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 1(1), 117–127. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02942609.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Marshall, S. J. (2018a). Financial challenges, constraints, and consequences of funding higher education. In S. J. Marshall (Ed.), Shaping the university of the future (pp. 103–121). Singapore: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-7620-6_5.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Marshall, S. J. (2018b). Technology as a catalyst for change. In S. J. Marshall (Ed.), Shaping the University of the Future (pp. 147–166). Singapore: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-7620-6_8.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Mesquita, A., & Castilho, O. (2017). Enablers and constrainers of internationalization of higher education institutions: A case study from Portugal. In R. L. Raby & E. J. Valeau (Eds.), Handbook of comparative studies on community colleges and global counterparts (pp. 1–26). Cham: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-38909-7_17-1.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Moodie, G. (2016). Universities, disruptive technologies, and continuity in higher education: The impact of information revolutions. New York: Palgrave Macmillan US.

    Google Scholar 

  37. OECD. (2019). OECD review of higher education, research, and innovation: Portugal. https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264308138-en.

  38. Paganelli, A., & Cangemi, J. (2019). Effects of aging faculty. Education, 139(3), 151–157.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Pegkas, P., Staikouras, C., & Tsamadias, C. (2019). Does research and development expenditure impact innovation? Evidence from the European Union countries. Journal of Policy Modeling, 41, 1005–1025. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpolmod.2019.07.001.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. PORDATA. (2019). Institutions in higher education: total and by type of education. https://www.pordata.pt/en/Municipalities/Institutions+in+higher+education+total+and+by+type+of+education-336

  41. Posselt, T., Abdelkafi, N., Fischer, L., & Tangour, C. (2018). Opportunities and challenges of higher education institutions in Europe: An analysis from a business model perspective. Higher Education Quarterly, 73(1), 100–115. https://doi.org/10.1111/hequ.12192.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Rampelt, F., Suter, R., Orr, D., Hijden, P., & Röwert, R. (2018). Bologna Digital position paper. Berlin: Kiron Open Higher Education https://kiron.ngo/2018/03/27/bolognadigital/.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Razik, T. A., & Nalbone, P. J. (1990). Implications of technological change for higher education reform. Educational Technology Research and Development, 38(1), 65–76. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02298249.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Reichert, S. (2019). The role of universities in regional innovation ecosystems. Brussels. European University Association. https://eua.eu/resources/publications/819:the-role-of-universities-in-regional-innovation-ecosystems.html

  45. Rosario, M. D. (2012). ICT in education policies and national development. In R. Clothey, S. Austin-Li, & J. C. Weidman (Eds.), Post-secondary education and technology: A global perspective on opportunities and obstacles to development (pp. 17–38). New York: Palgrave Macmillan US.

    Google Scholar 

  46. Sanderson, R. (2018). When is a leader not a leader? Experiences of programme leadership in a post-92 University. IMPact: The University of Lincoln Journal of Higher Education Research, 1(1). https://doi.org/10.25507/1120189.

  47. Serdyukov, P. (2017). Innovation in education: What works, what doesn’t, and what to do about it? Journal of Research in Innovative Teaching & Learning, 10(1), 4–33.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Shoham, S., & Perry, M. (2009). Knowledge management as a mechanism for technological and organizational change management in Israeli universities. Higher Education, 57(2), 227–246. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-008-9148-y.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Smertenko, P., Dimitriev, O., Pochekailova, L., & Cernyshov, L. (2018). Technological transformations and their implications for higher education. In J. Valsiner, A. Lutsenko, & A. Antoniouk (Eds.), Sustainable futures for higher education: The making of knowledge makers (pp. 67–75). Cham: Springer International Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  50. Valero, A., & Reenen, J. V. (2019). The economic impact of universities: Evidence from across the globe. Economics of Education Review, 68, 53–67. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.econedurev.2018.09.001.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Välimaa, J., & Hoffman, D. (2008). Knowledge society discourse and higher education. Higher Education, 56(3), 265–285. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-008-9123-7.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Veletsianos, G. (Ed.). (2016). Emergence and innovation in digital learning. Edmonton: Athabasca University Press.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Paulo Nuno Vicente.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Vicente, P.N., Lucas, M., Carlos, V. et al. Higher education in a material world: Constraints to digital innovation in Portuguese universities and polytechnic institutes. Educ Inf Technol (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10639-020-10258-5

Download citation

Keywords

  • Digital innovation
  • Higher education
  • Digital infrastructure
  • Portugal
  • Regional development