A look back at some highlights from 2013
It has been a busy 12 months for European University Association (EUA) in terms of policy, project and event activities. We take a look back at a selection of EUA activities from the last year.
•Members of the EUA Council for Doctoral Education (EUA-CDE) gather at the Politecnico di Torino for a thematic workshop on interdisciplinary doctoral programmes. The event outlines the possibilities and challenges interdisciplinary perspectives present for doctoral education.
•EUA Council meets in Turkey at the invitation of the Turkish Council of Higher Education (YÖK) and following a discussion on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) EUA establishes a task force on innovative learning trends and publishes its first occasional paper on MOOCs.
EUA publishes three new reports in February. The first examines the development of “full costing” in European universities and aims to assist practitioners in implementing full costing, with examples of good practice, whilst also providing important information for policy makers and funders. The second publication, on the Portuguese higher education system, is prepared by a team of European experts and carried out at the request of the Portuguese Rectors’ Conference, with a view to appraising the Portuguese HE system, identifying challenges and making recommendations. The third report presents the findings of the ARDE project focusing on the development of quality assurance processes (internal and external) for doctoral education in European universities.
EUA joins forces with the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in Seville to organise the first experts’ meeting focusing on the role of universities in research and innovation strategies for Smart Specialisation.
•EUA Council for Doctoral Education organises the Second Global Strategic Forum on Doctoral Education which gathers around 30 invited senior university representatives from some of the most prominent research universities from around the world. The outcomes of the forum, published in the form of a statement, outline the challenges of ensuring access, diversity and excellence in a global research community.
•Around 450 university leaders and HE representatives gather at Ghent University for EUA’s Annual Conference on “European Universities – Global Engagement”. To feed into the discussions, EUA publishes the results of a survey of its member universities on the theme HE internationalisation.
•EUA’s second report on rankings, entitled “Global university rankings and their impact II” is also published and launched during a special session at the Annual Conference.
•At the General Assembly, EUA members also elect three members to the EUA Board for the period 2013-2017.
•200 participants from around 150 European and Arab universities gather at the University of Barcelona (UB) to discuss cooperation possibilities and common higher education challenges between the Arab world and Europe. Jointly organised by UB, EUA and the Association of Arab Universities (AARU), this was the first conference between the two associations, and hence focused on prospects for closer cooperation between them.
•The first country workshop of the ATHENA project takes place in Moldova. The EUA-coordinated project contributes to the development, reform and modernisation of HE systems in Armenia, Moldova and in Ukraine (workshop held in November).
•EUA releases the latest edition of its Public Funding Observatory report which monitors the impact of the economic crisis on universities and identifies trends in public funding to higher education institutions across Europe. The report is launched in tandem with a new interactive online tool providing data for 23 European HE systems.
•Around 200 participants gather at the University of Warsaw for the EUA-CDE Annual Meeting to take stock of the developments in doctoral education over the last years. The event focuses on the question “are we on the right track?” keeping in mind the main goal of doctoral education – to cultivate the research mindset.
•The EUA Research Policy Working Group (RPWG) agrees upon the final report and recommendations arising from the February workshop on the role of universities in Smart Specialisation Strategies.
•In the framework of the EUA-coordinated Tempus project in the Western Balkans, entitled “Empowering Universities to fulfil their responsibility for Quality Assurance” (EUREQA), EUA and partners organise a training workshop for staff working on QA in universities, representatives of the local quality assurance agency, and the European Commission.
•The European Commission launches the Communication “European higher education in the world”, which outlines a strategy for the internationalisation of European higher education. EUA proactively contributes to the consultation process of the strategy, for example by feeding in the results of membership surveys (which are cited in the communication).
•As part of the “Promoting Quality Culture” project, EUA and ENQA and project partners, organise a workshop for universities and QA agencies to explore the role agencies could or should play in promoting quality culture within HE institutions. The workshop was a follow-up to trainings organised in the Spring of 2013 for the staff of EUA member universities.
•EUA Council holds its autumn meeting in Vilnius at the invitation of the Lithuanian University Rectors’ Conference and meets with representatives of all Lithuanian universities and other HE actors.
•EUA launches an online survey to map capacities for e-learning at European universities and assess their perceptions regarding its general impact on learning and teaching.
•Around 150 participants, including representatives from higher education institutions and associations, public authorities, quality assurance agencies and the media, gather for the Academic Cooperation Association (ACA)-EUA Seminar “Making Sense of the MOOCs”.
•The Institutional Evaluation Programme (IEP) launches its new round of evaluations for 2013/14 where it will evaluate eight universities.
•EUA, in cooperation with ACA, launches a new project: Mobility Policy-Practice Connect (MPPC) that aims to help to build capacity at system and institutional level to create and implement comprehensive mobility strategies.
•EUA’s Institutional Evaluation Programme (IEP) announces it will carry out coordinated evaluations of higher education institutions in Montenegro in 2013/2014. These evaluations, commissioned by the Ministry of Education in Montenegro, are funded by a broader World Bank supported project entitled “Higher Education and Research for Innovation and Competitiveness” (HERIC), with the overall objective to strengthen the quality and relevance of higher education and research in Montenegro.
•The 8th edition of the European Quality Assurance Forum, organised by the E4 group, takes place at the University of Gothenburg, and brings together around 400 higher education stakeholders from approximately 50 countries to discuss the latest developments and trends in quality assurance (QA).
•EUA launches the 7th in the series of its flagship TRENDS projects, which undertake a detailed analysis and mapping of developments in Europe’s changing higher education landscape.
•After lengthy EU-level negotiations, the European Parliament approves the EU budget framework for 2014-2020, which includes the next EU programmes for research and innovation (Horizon 2020) and for education (Erasmus+). Both programmes are prioritised as key components for increased investment. MEPs and (then some days later in December) member states also approve the different legislative packages for Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+. EUA has provided continuous input, on behalf of its membership, throughout the development and negotiations on both programmes and budgets.
•In the framework of the ALFA PUENTES project, university leaders from Europe and Latin America gather in Colombia for the second major bi-regional university association conference. The conference takes forward the conclusions of the first major bi-regional conference held in 2012 and showcases the outcomes of ALFA PUENTES, which has supported three concrete initiatives for the convergence of the higher education systems in three Latin American sub-regions (Mercosur, the Andean Community and Central America). ALFA PUENTES is coordinated by EUA in conjunction with five of its collective members and university associations across Latin America.
•EUA presents and publishes the results of its activities carried out in the framework of its Memorandum of Understanding, signed in 2012, with the European Commission on the European Research Area (ERA). Together with the other stakeholder organisations and the EC, it also reaffirms its joint commitment to achieving the ERA goals in a joint declaration.
•EUA publishes the first results of the “Designing strategies for efficient funding of higher education in Europe (DEFINE)” project in an interim report. The report is based on information and data from national rectors’ conferences/university associations and features some of the messages from a seminar in November organised with HUMANE on the topic.
•EUA takes part in an expert group meeting on “State Responsibility for Protecting Higher Education”, organised by the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack, and hosted by the Network of Universities from the Capitals of Europe.♦