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HERE Annual Conference: A matrix for higher education reform?

12 January 2017

Around 120 Higher Education Reform Experts (HERE) gathered in Barcelona on 12 and 13 December 2016 for the group’s annual conference to discuss their mission and dissect the dynamics of higher education reforms.

sphereHERE is an initiative of the European Union that supports teams of experts in 26 countries in Eastern Europe/the former Soviet Union and the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean region. Nominated by their national governments, the HERE members, who can be students, academics, university leadership, or staff from national agencies, participate in support and training measures organised by the EC’s Executive Agency for Education (EACEA). These consist of two thematic seminars, two study visits, a conference and a number of “technical assistance missions” to individual countries each year. 

The annual conference, which was organised by the SPHERE consortium, consisting of EUA and the University of Barcelona, is usually focused on specific themes such as quality assurance and student-centred learning, often linked to the Bologna Process, in which some of the countries participate. However, this year’s conference proposed higher education policy reform as the topic and how the HERE members can better contribute to it. Participants chose among three thematic workshops on access and retention; employability; and quality, internationalisation and democratic governance. These topics were discussed by using a matrix that included various instruments and factors from teaching practices to quality assurance, legal frameworks and finance, among others. 

The final sessions reflected on approaches and outcomes. Some participants were clearly in favour of returning to a more thematically focused approach for future events. But others found it useful to look at employability, for example, from the angle of policy reform development while relating to policy making areas as well. Several stated that they would like to apply the approach in their national context and made suggestions for improvements.

European University Association (EUA)

Brussels office:
Avenue de l’Yser, 24
1040 Brussels
Belgium
Tel: +32 (0) 2 230 55 44

Geneva office:
114, Rue du Rhône
Case postale 3174
1211 Geneva 3
Switzerland
Tel: +41 22 552 02 96