25.10.2011
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ESU delegation participates in Future of Higher Education conference

BUCHAREST – An ESU delegation consisting of Allan Pall, Nevena Vuksanovic, Fernando Miguel Galan Palomares and Karl Agius participated in the “Future of Higher Education – Bologna Process Researchers’ Conference (FOHE-BPRC)” which took place from 17 to 19 October in Bucharest. The topics discussed in this conference included European Higher Education Area (EHEA) Principles, Quality Assurance (QA), Diversity, Foresight/HE Futures, Mobility, Teaching and learning, Financing and Governance.

In one of the QA sessions Fernando Miguel Galan Palomares from ESU Academic Affairs Committee also presented a paper on “Consequences of Student Participation in Quality Assurance” in which paper he emphasises why students have be involved in QA. He stated that students’ involvement in QA will also increase trust and credibility in the QA processes and its outcomes. He also explained that students are major stakeholders as they are keen to improve their own education and making it a better investment.
During a session on Governance former ESU Secretary General Manja Klemencic spoke about “The Changing Conceptions of Student Participation in Higher Education Governance in the Framework of the Bologna Process/EHEA”. She defined three key reasons why there had to be student participation these being a procedural principle, a substantial value, and a policy objective. She stated that sometimes students were considered to have an advisory role rather than having a decision-making function. Therefore there was the need of a new emphasis on amplifying the student voice to obtain an enhanced student learning experience. According to Klemencic students should be considered as full partners of HE and not mere consumers.

During a session on Mobility, Prof. Hans de Wit spoke about “Student mobility between Europe and the rest of the world: trends, issues and challenges”. He said that student mobility had become a key issue for government and HEIs. He stated that an OECD report publish in 2011 declared that the number of globally circulating students over the past 40 years has increased from approximately 250,000 in 1965, up to an estimated 3.7 million at present. At the European level about 200,000 European students are mobile every year through the ERASMUS, i.e. just below 1% of all students in Europe which is still very low and far from the Europe 2020 objectives. He also spoke positively about the language barrier which was being well tackled. In fact an increasing number of institutions in non-English-speaking countries were teaching courses and degree programmes in English, in particular Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden, but also elsewhere in Europe. Other countries were still lagging behind in this aspect.

The PowerPoint presentations for each of the eight thematic sessions, as well as presentations from the plenary session can be now uploaded from the conference website at the following address: http://fohe-bprc.forhe.ro/program.html.

A report by Karl Agius, member of ESU’s Social Affairs Committee

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