A delegation of EURASHE led by President, Prof. Andreas G. Orphanides, participated in the Bucharest Ministerial Conference and the 3rd Bologna Policy Forum on 26-27 April. This high-profile biannual event gathered the 47 EHEA Ministers and the stakeholders’ organisations in the Bologna Process for a state of the art HE reform conference, and fixed the agenda for the coming years, whereas additional non-EHEA Ministers and stakeholders also participated in the 3rd Bologna Policy Forum.
In the interactive panel discussion in the plenary meeting at the opening of the Ministerial Conference, EURASHE’s President, Prof. Andreas G. Orphanides, underlined the fact that the relevance of the Bologna Process lies in the fact that it has strengthened the internal cohesion of European HE, while managing to respect its enormous diversity and its proper values, and it put Europe and European HE on the map creating the basis and prospect for a competitive European HE in a global perspective, while enhancing the employment prospects of the European graduates. He stressed the role of stakeholder organisations in implementing the process, which is for EURASHE continuing on the path of fully involving the HE institutions, in support of the welfare society, through knowledge creation and regional development. Stressing also the importance of Quality and Innovation as sine qua non in achieving competitiveness of EHEA, Prof. Orphanides proposed that action programs on Bologna reforms are developed and launched on a European level, promoting, encouraging and supporting the implementation of the reforms via bilateral and multilateral agreements between institutions (and stakeholders).
In the various thematic sessions and discussion groups, EURASHE’s message to the governments and HE stakeholders was passed by EURASHE’s delegation, based on the Association’s input in the Ministerial Communiqué, which was released at the beginning of and endorsed at the conclusion of the conference.
EURASHE favours a higher education that focuses on making graduates employable in a sustainable way, in continuous contact with stakeholders in HE, with the support of a lifelong learning framework and a student-centred approach, and based on a transparent and quality-assured provision of programmes, irrespective of the institutional or country context.
The role of the Bologna tools’ was a recurring theme in EURASHE’s input in both the Communiqué and the Ministerial Conference and Bologna Policy Forum proceedings, with a focus on a student-centred approach, learning outcomes and qualifications frameworks. At the same time we were professing our firm belief that, where the country context allows it, there is a specific role for Universities of Applied Sciences in the creation and practical development of knowledge and its technological applications. This message was also expressed in the joint policy paper with UASnet, “Position paper on Research and Innovation”, which was presented to the Ministers, alongside our overall message for this Conference, “Towards a diversified, responsive and competitive European Higher Education”.
After the conference, President Orphanides participated in the official press conference, together with the Ministers of Romania, Denmark and Armenia, and the President of ESU, where he stressed that the Ministerial Conference was very successful, and he voiced his satisfaction for its major conclusions in relation to EURASHE’s recommendations and proposals.