HERE Seminar Universities and social engagement, University of Nicosia (13-14.06.17, Cyprus)

13-14 June, 2017. HERE Seminar Universities and social engagement, University of Nicosia.

Participants from Ukraine:
1. Olena Kozievskaya, Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Committee for Science and Education, HERE team member
2. Irina Sikorskaya, International Relations Office Director, Donetsk State University of Management, Mariupol, HERE team member
3. Petro Krainik, National Erasmus+ Office, Ukraine, Project Manager

Agenda, presentations and useful materials are available at:

Description and key information:

Participants: Higher Education Reform Experts (HEREs) from EU neighbouring partner countries, National Erasmus+ Offices’ (NEOs) representatives, European and Partner countries experts, representatives from the host institution (University of Nicosia).

The two-day Seminar was opened by rector of the University of Nicosia, Head of sector for Erasmus+ Capacity
Building in Higher Education, EACEA and Elizabeth Colucci, EUA /SPHERE Team who presented the program, idea and the tasks of the Seminar.

Aim and objectives of the seminar:

Higher Education Reform Experts represent diverse higher education systems comprise of diverse institutions. Irrespective of the different missions of HEI, social engagement, social responsiveness and the ‘third mission’ are increasingly pertinent in times when the student body is changing shape and systems are grappling with how higher education should and can best respond to societal changes, employment, citizenship and even regional crises.
This HERE seminar will showcase EU and HERE countries and HEI, analysing the different components of ‘social engagement’ and third mission. This will include issues related to access, catering to minority and marginalized learners, but also how to weave social engagement responsibility into the curriculum. A special session will examine in particular how universities are responding to migrant and refugee learner needs, given that this is extremely topical in the Mediterranean at present. Co-hosted by the University of Nicosia and CARDET, a research centre that specializes in social inclusion, migrant education and ICT education, the seminar should provide diverse perspectives on the challenges that HEIs and HE systems face in terms of catering to the diverse needs of learners and also working with society and stakeholders to ensure societal impact.

During the seminar the participants were expected to get acquainted with:
• Different institutional strategies with regards to inclusion, and how these strategies help HEI to respond to a changing student demographic and specifically those that may be marginalized
• The key issues associated with access (financing, outreach, retention, and student services, RPL) and how HEI in different systems are addressing them
• Good practices in how to understand and analyse the strategic motivations to develop joint programmes, including their relationship to internationalisation
• The assessment of how the social mission of the university is woven or can be woven into curricula design
• The overview of specific HEI strategies and programmes to include migrants and refugees, and some of the challenges associated with this
• The paths to connect the university social mission with that of research and identify good practices accordingly

Session 1: Universities and social engagement: Trends and practices
Speakers heighted the key issues and challenges and cite interesting practices from different countries and systems. Policy frameworks were referenced as the institutional autonomy and diversity and the role it plays.
Speakers: Martin Unger, Institute for Advanced Studies, Austria
Andrei Popa, Cahul State University, Moldova

Chair: Charalandas Vrasidas, CARDET – UNIC

Session 2: Universities and inclusion: Case studies
Three case studies are presented of universities with specific missions to include/provide access to marginalised populations in their countries and region. Case studies demonstrated the process of how the institution fits into the diversity of HEI in that respective country and how the institution accesses impact towards its mission. Challenges were accessed regarding student recruitment, RPL, retention, funding and otherwise.
Speakers: Tzachi Milgrom, Hadassah Academy College, Israel
Jens Kemper, University of Bremen, Germany
Bizena Bizo, Agriculture University of Tirana, Albania

Chairs: Elizabeth Colucci, EUA

Session 3: Break-up grounds: Strategies for inclusion
Three groups – HERE assigned according to the ice-breaker activity outcomes/pre-registration. Each group had a facilitator.
Group 1: Implementing RPL
(Chair: Jens Kemper, University of Bremen, Germany)
Group 2: Monitoring drop-out rate and retention
(Chair: Martin Unger, Institute for Advanced Studies, Austria)
Group 3: Recruitment from VET to higher education
(Chair: Jan Theliander, University West, Sweden)

Session 4: Employing technology for access: strategies, barriers, success stories
The session observed the utilization of the ICT to enhance access and delivery upon the universities’ social mission. The session will go beyond citing programmes/initiatives and also examined: a) their take-up, and b) their impact. Methods for measuring success and impact were elaborated.
Charalambos Vrasidas, CARDET – UNIC – overview presentation/examples of projects
Elizabeth Colucci, EUA – brief presentation of ‘MOOCs4inclusion’ (on ICT and migrant/refugee inclusion)
Chairs: Henriette Stoeber

Session 5: Fostering social engagement in the curricula
Inroductory presentation was made by Martin Galvin, University College Cork, Centre for the Intergration of Research, teaching and Learning (CIRTL), Ireland

Session 6: Break-out groups: Fostering social engagement in the curricula.
Three groups. HERE was asked to come up with three key principles/practices for integrating social engagement into the curricular development followed by reports from the break-out groups.
Chairs: Martin Galvin, Henriette Stoeber, Elizabeth Colucci

Session 7: University strategies for the migrant/refugee inclusion
Trends in Europe and key issues – Henriette Stoeber, EUA
Case study: Jan Theliander, University West, Sweden
Ahmad Jammal, Director General of Higher Education, Lebabon
Perspective of social workers: Stefanos Spaneas, CARDET – UNIC, Cyprus
Chairs: Elizabeth Colucci

Session 8: Universities, research and social impact
Stefanos Spaneas, CARDET – UNIC , Cyprus
Chairs: Charalambos Vrasidas, CARDET – UNIC

Conclusions and suggestions / recommendations for Ukraine

Ukrainian higher education institutions (HEIs) mostly consider social engagement as realisation at the institutional strategy, yet for Ukrainian HEIs social engagement is still challenge due to many external and internal factors.

1. Social engagement should be initiated on the ground of the long-term partnership and fruitful cooperation between universities and society.

2. Clear understanding and definition of terminology should be agreed ahead to avoid misunderstanding.

3. Social engagement should be mission driven and bottom-up/initiative driven

4. Best practices and good example should be more widely spread,

5. Institutional investment, starting at the top level is absolutely necessary to sustain the commitment required, but is not enough to implement social partnership.

6. Motivation for implementation is never a “top down” imperative, but a “bottom up” expressed desire.

7. Social engagement requires a huge amount of work and resources and the people who are willing to get involved –at all levels – require sufficient institutional back up (formal and financial)

8. Trustworthy communication between the partners. Joint seminars, conferences and regular meetings will also support the sense of unity, and help contribute effectively in cooperation with society. A collective endeavor (with other universities) will be helpful

9. The role of ICT and e-learning should be recognized as an important tool for outreach and inclusion for different needs for different student profiles and types

10. All aspects of the social engagement will benefit from a broad involvement and participation of all relevant stakeholder groups, notably students, academic and administrative staff as well as the senior leadership of the institutions.

11. Need to share university practices to stimulate development of national strategy is also critical.

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