EUA Newsletter 7 | 15/04/2016
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University leaders discuss digitalisation at EUA Annual Conference

Michael D. Higgins, EUA Annual Conference 2016EUA held its biggest networking conference – the annual conference – at the National University of Ireland (NUI) in Galway from 7 to 8 April 2016. Under the theme “Bricks and clicks for Europe: building a successful digital campus”, more than 300 university leaders took part in discussions on digital technologies and their impact on the higher education sector, including university staff and students.

In a major highlight, the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, opened the event with a speech pointing to both opportunities and challenges presented by the use of technology. President Higgins strongly emphasised the crucial role of education in our societies considering Europe’s current political and intellectual crisis. “It is through the encouragement of creative and free thinking that our universities acquired their status in the past, and correctly claim it today as unique institutions that accept the responsibility of enabling and empowering citizens to participate fully and effectively at all levels of society,” said Higgins. 

Another important contribution came from Ireland’s digital ambassador, Lord David Puttnam, former Chancellor of the Open University in the UK, who gave a speech observing that change is taking place bottom up - through new approaches promoted by students and teachers - rather than top down. Lord Puttnam posed the question of what should be digitalised in the educational process, and how best to use digitalisation to enhance teaching and improve educational outcomes. 

The conference provided a unique opportunity for representatives of European universities to share their experiences on how to foster innovation and use digital technology to manage change and improve learning and teaching. It also produced a rich array of outcomes.

“While EUA has included the theme of digitalisation in many of its projects and events in the past, this is the first time we have exclusively dedicated ourselves to this theme,” said Lesley Wilson, EUA Secretary General. “And the outcomes are abundant. For example, participants confirmed that universities have embraced blended learning and online education in recent years. They also confirmed the impact of digitalisation on the research process, and the importance of ongoing discussions on open access and open science.” 
 
Participants also discussed how to promote digitalisation at the institutional, national and European levels. Many speakers and delegates addressed the need for more interinstitutional collaboration and sharing, and participants reflected on how national and European level initiatives could help enhance digitalisation. 

The annual conference also featured institutional case studies on digitalisation in relation to learning and teaching, research and open science and outreach to society. Finally, a hot topic session dedicated to the important theme of university mergers in Europe was scheduled as a post conference event, that proved to be very popular among members from all across Europe.

To read the speech by President Michael D. Higgins, please click here.

For complete information, including the programme and presentations, please visit EUA’s event page.

For additional conference content, please visit EUA’s page on Scoop.it!

Comments and reactions to the event can be seen on Twitter under the hashtag #EUA2016Galway

Photo ©NUI


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