HERE Annual Conference 2017 “EU and its Neighbors: Higher Education Policy and Cooperation” (11-12/12/17, Brussels, Belgium)

Title: HERE Annual Conference 2017 “EU and its Neighbors: Higher Education Policy and Cooperation”, funded by European Union and organized by the SPHERE
Date: 11-12 December 2017
Location: Hotel Bloom (Brussels, Belgium), European Commission (Brussels, Belgium)
Participants: Erasmus+ Higher Education Reform Experts (HEREs) from EU neighboring partner countries, European and Partner countries experts, representatives from the European Commission.

Participants from Ukraine:
1. Svetlana SHYTIKOVA, Director, NEO in Ukraine
2. Olena KOZIEVSKA, Deputy of the Head, the Parliament’ Committee Secretariat (Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine), HERE team member
3. Irina SIKORSKAYA, International Office Director, the Donetsk State University of Management in Mariupol, HERE team member
4. Volodymyr BAKHRUSHYN, Professor, D. Sc., Zaporizhia National Technical University, HERE team member

Programme and material:

Higher Education Reform Experts (HERE) have been tasked to contribute to higher education reforms in their specific countries neighboring the EU, yet at the same time serve as an important diplomatic tool and policy dialogue channels for the European Union. There is great potential for their work to contribute to various EU policy priorities, especially when it comes to external relations and the EU Neighborhood policy. HERE also play and can further play a very concrete role in the further implementation of the Bologna Process in Bologna signatory countries.ASzfdxgfhcg

The 2017 HERE conference will be an occasion to take stock of the HERE activities, and to look at national and global higher education development trends.
It will focus in particular on the regional, bi-lateral and bi-regional policy frameworks that shape and enable higher education reforms, exchanges and collaboration, which also contribute more broadly so social and economic development and have an important political and diplomatic function.

In this regard, the conference will consider the relations between Partner countries and the EU, based on both the EU Neighborhood policy and the European Higher Education Area, to which all EU and many HERE counties adhere.
The conference will showcase how the work of the HERE contributes to the implementation of objectives developed and agreed under those frameworks. HERE will have the opportunity to showcase results of Technical Assistance Missions, learn about the relevance of their outcomes for other countries and regions and draw connections been different HERE events and topics with regards to higher education reform and how it supports grand societal challenges and international relations.
As the conference will pre-empt a new contract phase for the SPHERE (Centralized Support for HERE) initiative, starting in 2018, it will also attempt to assess the past HERE activities and contributions and project the coming three years. This would also consider a discussion on how the previously mentioned policy dialogue frameworks can be leveraged to contribute to national reforms and institutional development.
The conference will be hosted in Brussels so as to promote the work of the HERE across different policy areas of the EU and optimize the participation of European policy makers.

• Take stock of the HERE activities from 2017, and more generally the achievements and lessons learnt since 2015.
• Provide HERE with an opportunity to showcase national activities and results to an international policy audience
• Assess explicit and implicit goals and priorities under ongoing regional and interregional policy frameworks (European Higher Education Area, EU neighborhood country policies etc.)
• Discuss the goals of the EU’s Renewed Agenda and its potential relevance for the context of the countries neighboring the EU
• Demonstrate in particular the role of HERE in the Bologna Process and Bologna-like reform development and implementation Frame the HERE activities within the context of EU-Partner country policy commitments and processes, so as to demonstrate their relevance and added value
• Highlight the role of student HERE in contributing to HE reform
• Define goals and strategies for the SPHERE contract 2018-2020: how can the HERE can be best supported and empowered? How can their work be best promoted to better contribute to overriding policy frameworks?

Report Description and key information:

The two-day Conference was opened by: Ralf Rahders, Head of Unit, Erasmus+ Higher Education – International Capacity Building, EACEA; Martine Reicherts, Director-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture (DG EAC), European Commission; Michael Gaebel, Head of Higher Education Policy Unit, European University Association (EUA)/SPHERE Team

There were two-day plenary sessions with the keynote speeches, namely:

● The role of human capital investment, higher education and research in supporting development in Partner Countries, by Lesley Wilson, Secretary General, European University Association (EUA)
● A new strategy for higher education and the role of Partner country cooperation, by Claire Morel, Head of Unit, International Cooperation, DG EAC
● HERE activities 2015 – 2017: Overview of results, by Elizabeth Colucci and Nicolas Patrici, SPHERE Team
● EU Global Strategy and the role of education, by Julia De Clerck-Sachsee, Adviser for Strategic Planning, European External Action Service (EEAS)
● Building the knowledge triangle as a means to address societal challenges, by Gauthier Grousset, Policy Officer, DG EAC, European Commission and Bernhard Fabianek, Policy Officer, DG RTD, European Commission
● Research capacity in the Western Balkans – HERE Study presentation by Michael Gaebel, EUA/SPHERE Team
● Case studies from HERE: Mira Vukcevic, Professor, University of Montenegro
● Presentation from BFUG member: Bologna, where are we now? By David Crosier, Higher Education Coordinator, EURYDICE, Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency

At the first day four parallel regional round tables was held. Each round table consisted of introductory presentations from the European Commission, framing commitments and concrete follow-up initiatives, ranging from skills/employability to initiatives to address the migrant/refugee crisis, etc.. That followed by a concrete case study or commentary from a HERE country participant and then a moderated discussion.

Round table 1: EU-Southern Med dialogue on higher education and research
Chair: Thomas Jorgensen, Senior Policy Coordinator, EUA
Speakers: Christophe Masson, Policy Officer, DG NEAR, European Commission, Marcelo Scalisi, Director, Union for Mediterranean Universities (UNIMED), Hani Helal, Professor, Cairo University, Egypt

Round table 2: EU-Eastern Partnership dialogue on higher education and research
Chair: Howard Davies, EUA/SPHERE Team
Speakers: Kamila Partyka, Policy Officer, DG EAC, European Commission, Thomas Estermann, Director, Governance, Policy and Public Funding, EUA, Olena Kozievska, Deputy Head of the Secretariat, the Parliament’s Committee for Science and Education, Ukraine

Round table 3: EU-Central Asia dialogue on higher education and research
Chair: Piia Heinamaki, Project Adviser, EACEA
Speakers: Gianpaolo Suriano, Policy Officer, DG EAC, European Commission, Edith Read, International Cooperation Officer, DG DEVCO, European Commission, Nazokat Kasymova, Professor, Tashkent State Institute of Oriental Studies, Uzbekistan, Ann Katherine Isaacs, Professor, University of Pisa

Round table 4: EU-Western Balkans dialogue on higher education and research
Chair: Michael Gaebel, EUA/SPHERE Team
Speakers: Albert Sese-Ballart, Policy Officer, DG EAC, European Commission, Zlatan Buliko, Professional Advisor, Federal Ministry of Education and Science, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The results were summarized by shot reports of each round table and Panel with EC representatives that participated in round tables, who discussed outcomes and ideas for enhancing the role of HERE in EU policy dialogue with Partner countries.

Three Panels were held on the second day:
1) Panel with three HERE representatives that contribute to the BFUG, referencing TAMs that have directly contributed to Bologna implementation (Chair: Michael Gaebel, EUA):
Youhansen Eid, Head of the National Authority for Quality Assurance and Accreditation of Education, Egypt;
Irine Darchia, Associate Professor, Tbilisi State University, Georgia;
Darkhan Akhmed-Zaki, Director of the Department of Higher and Post-Higher Education, Ministry of Education and Science, Kazakhstan;
2) Panel with three Bologna experts and two HEREs, presenting current working dynamics and discussing prospects for collaboration with HERE (Chair: Elizabeth Colucci, EUA/SPHERE Team):
Robert Wagenaar, Director, International Tuning Academy, University of Groningen and Member of the Dutch Bologna Expert Team
Ann Katherine Isaacs, Professor, University of Pisa and Member of the Italian Bologna Expert Team
Raimonda Markevičienė, Head of International Relations Office, Vilnius University and Member of the German Bologna Expert Team
Nelly Asmatullayeva, Chair of HERE Team, Kazakhstan
Safa Nasser Eldin, vice-President, Al-Quds University, Palestine
3) Student Panel (Chair: Howard Davies, EUA/SPHERE Team):
Katrina Koppel, member of the Executive Committee of ESU;
Joao Pinto, President, Erasmus Student Network (ESN);
Kateryna Shalayeva, Alumnus of Erasmus Mundus and former President of the Eurasian Chapter of the Erasmus Mundus Alumni Association;
Nicolai Loghin, National Students Alliance of Moldova.

Conclusions and suggestions / recommendations for Ukraine

1. Higher education should be considered as an important resource of solving economic and social problems of Ukraine, creating the potential for sustainable development of the country, its strategic vector of developments towards integration into the European Union
2. National legislation in education should o take into account modern trends and challenges. In particular, to harmonize the education policy in line with educational policies of the European partners, in focus on student-centered education, tracking graduates’ employment, cooperation business and local communities, supporting SMART specialties, developing creativity and critical thinking
3. To participate actively in the initiatives of the updated EU Programmes in higher education. In particular o improve academic mobility programs for teacher training, EU STE (A) M Coalition, Erasmus Student Card, European Alumni Surveys, Erasmus + KA2 Knowledge Alliances
4. To highlight the role of the national experts on reforming higher education in regards of implementing the guidelines of Bologna Declaration and follow-up documents
5. To cooperate fruitfully with educational institutions of partner countries in studying their best practices and experience on integration into the European educational space
6. To continue organizing and conducting seminars in the framework of technical assistance on the problematic of higher education, involving international experts.

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