BRUSSELS – The European Students’ Union (ESU), represented by Nevena Vuksanovic, participated in the kick off meeting of the Structural Working Group (SWG) of the European Higher Education Area on 13 and 14 December. Around thirty participants gathered for the meeting taking place in Brussels to discuss challenges and expectations of the group.
Four topics of concern
The SWG is a new arrangement of the Bologna Follow-Up Group (BFUG) within its Plan of Work from 2012 to 2015. It deals with the four main areas of the structural implementation of the Bologna Process, such as qualifications frameworks, recognition of qualifications, quality assurance and transparency tools. Chairs of the working group are: Sjur Bergan (Council of Europe)-Coordinator, Noël Vercruysse (Belgium/Flemish Community), Friedrich Bechina (Holy See), Bartlomiej Banaszak (Poland).
Discussion sessions were held on all these four topics at the meeting ending with an agreement on the guiding Bologna document (Terms of Reference) that underlines the purpose of higher education (as agreed by the participating countries of the Council of Europe), main policy priorities and the specific aims of the Structural Working Group.
A shift from policy making to implementation
In the meeting, the participants’ expectations were directed towards the shift from the policy making to a practical implementation of the Bologna Process. The participating countries are facing challenges related to all these four areas in their structural reforms nationally, while trying to overcome obstacles and to mitigate the process in accordance to the EHEA/EU guiding policies and strategies. One of the main concerns raised at the meeting was the lack of practical knowledge on the implementation of these structural changes and policies that are made without enough evidence and research. Thus, the participants insisted that the group would base its policy on evidence by asking for increased practical involvement of national ministries in higher education reforms.
The main purpose of higher education
Within the Terms of Reference, the participants agreed that the major purposes of higher education would be: preparing people for life as active citizens in democratic societies, supporting personal development, preparing individuals for employment and developing and maintaining a broad, advanced knowledge base, while supporting a lifelong learning process and enhancing teaching, learning and research.
Policy reflections for the group were also discussed, amended and adopted, putting the main emphasis on priorities at national levels, as developed by the Bucharest Communique. Amended and adopted version of the Terms of Reference will be finalised shortly and sent to the relevant stakeholders. For more information, please visit the website of the European Higher Education Area: http://www.ehea.info/
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The European Students’ Union, headquartered in Brussels, is the umbrella organisation of 47 national unions of students from 39 European countries. ESU represents and promotes the educational, social, economical and cultural interests of students at the European level. Through its member unions, ESU represents over 11 million students in Europe. To find out more about ESU, follow us on Twitter @ESUtwt, check out or Facebook page or visit www.esu-online.org. ESU celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2012.