EU for excellent education

Nieuws | de redactie
13 september 2012 | On 18 September the European Commission will launch a High Level Group on the Modernisation of Higher Education. Its task is to find creative ways for EU instruments to support ‘excellence in teaching’.

The work of the expert group is really challenging since the EUlacks a constitutional mandate in education. But it fits neatly inwith next years ‘Obama Summit’.

In the run up to the third International Summit on the TeachingProfession (to be held in Amsterdam in March 2013) the EuropeanCommission now embraces the teacher as pivotal in the learningsuccess of children. “Increasing attainment”, “widening access tonew groups of students” and “better catering for their needs in howeducation is delivered”, it is called in the Commissions Communication.

Furthermore, the policy document on modernisation of Europeanhigher education confirms the recentOECD-figures: “While 35% of all jobs in the EU will requirehigh-level qualifications by 2020, only 26% of the workforcecurrently has a higher education qualification”, the Commissionsays.

Creativity and wide views

The mandate of the HLG starts in September 2012 and will finishin 2015. In these three years the High Level Group will deal with:’Excellence in teaching’ and with ‘Learning in the digital age’. Athird subject is still to be decided by the European Commission inaccordance with the group. As possible subjects are mentioned:Strengthening innovation and entrepreneurial skills in highereducation; Higher education institutions’ role in regionaldevelopment; Meeting the demographic challenge; higher educationinstitutions as Lifelong Learning hubs.

The extensive CV’s of the members of the High Level Group maygive a hint to the direction in which direction their creativitymight point:

The High Level Group will be chaired by MarymcAleese, former President of Ireland, who as a child gotthe advice by a priest to refrain from studying. Her mother threwthe cleric out of the house.

Christian Bode  is currently SecretaryGeneral of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). His take onacademic exchange is one of ‘meaningful internationalization.’According to Bode this “is first and foremost a matter of mentalityand includes a moral orientation. It features open minds andtolerance, solidarity and sustainability, cooperativeness as muchas competitiveness, in short: global citizenship.”

Loukas Tsoukalis  currently holds the JeanMonnet Chair at the University of Athens. He is already tied inwith the European Commission in many different ways. Tsoukalishowever is someone from whom creativity can be expected: among themany tediously boring books on the workings of the EU, his ‘Whatkind of Europe?’ stands out for its inspiring narrative.

The other members of the High Level Group are: AgnetaBladh, dean of the Swedish Jonkoping University,Alessandro Schiesaro, professor at SapienzaUniversity, Rome and director of Sapienza School of advanced Study,Jan Mülfeith, Chief Executive Officer MicrosoftEurope and former keynote speaker of Business University Forum,Tea Petrin, Professor of Economics, University ofLjubljana and Vincent Berger, President ofUniversity Paris-Diderot.

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