EURASHE Afternoon Debate at the European Parliament: Higher education institutions are the agents of change and opportunities

April, 2019 Brussels – Higher education institutions face a wide range of challenges and opportunities, most significant associated with shifting perspectives of knowledge itself and the changing role and responsibility of the universities in the society. At the same time a series of worrying phenomena like anti-refugees movements, increasing power of far-right parties, widely spread fake news remind the importance of education in preparing citizens of the future. On the 29th of April EURASHE gathered together higher education community at the Afternoon Debate “Higher Education in Europe: Play to Win” to discuss these emerging issues and search for the possible answers of what should be a future role of higher education in Europe.

The Debate, which was organized in collaboration with European Parliament Campaign #ThisTimeImVoting addressed a diverse role of Higher education. The first keynote speaker, Stephane Lauwick, President of EURASHE reminded that higher education plays an essential role in the promotion of the core values of the European Union such as democratic participation, the promotion of human rights, the rule of law. He said: ’We know that our higher education mission is not just to equip learners with knowledge, understanding and skills, or even competences for the labour market; our mission is about transforming the learner into a citizen ready and eager to participate actively in society. We claim that our brand of Higher education, more than any other, finds its roots in the promotion of diversity and being the agents of change.

New learning

The new world 4.0 is upon us. Modern technology has started to upend the world as we know it. Many citizens in Europe and elsewhere are afraid: they see large quantities of the lesser qualified job positions being lost to the 4.0 revolution. We need a higher education strategy that creates democratic and inclusive society and embraces technology at the same time, according to Prof. Dr. Ulf-Daniel Ehlers, Professor, Duale Hochschule Baden-Württemberg, Karlsruhe.

‘Future learners need to choose a mission, not a major. In today’s society knowledge itself does not lead to indisciplinary problem solving but requires a good set of competences and flexibility to apply it’, – he added.

How to organise higher education better?

The keynote speeches were followed by a debate on the future of higher education in Europe moderated by Higher education expert Mr Peter van der Hijden. The discussion invited students’, businesses’ and higher education institutions’ representatives to elaborate on what are the skills needed in future and how to organise higher education better.

The panel participants agreed that higher education institutions play a crucial role in helping students to combine theoretical knowledge with practical experience and the future skills should be the ones which help us to transfer from one job to another.

Please find the photos of the Debate.

Presentations of the event are here and here.

Event report here.


EURASHE is the European Association of Institutions in Higher Education that offer professionally orientated programmes and are engaged in applied research within the Bologna cycles. We represent more than 600 universities of applied sciences and university colleges, national and sectorial associations of higher education institutions, and other individual institutions, such as universities.


Mrs Dovile Sandaraite


Communications and Events officer, EURASHE