Jakub Grodecki is the new Project and Policy Officer of EURASHE. Get to know him better through this interview, where he shares his views about EURASHE, inspirations, and interests.
Hello Jakub, could you introduce yourself to the EURASHE network? Who are you?
Hello Everyone! It’s a great pleasure to join the EURASHE Community, and I look forward to meeting you throughout our shared journey. I am an individual from Poland, just one year before turning my 30s. Throughout my life, I was always curious about people and different initiatives, ideas and places I have seen along the way. I graduated from the University of Science and Technology (AGH) in Kraków. Along with my studies, I was very involved in the students’ community, which has led me into the world of Higher Education Policy at all levels – Locally, Nationally and European-wide. Before Joining EURASHE, I was active in the European Student’s Union, firstly as a member of the Executive Committee and then Vice-President of the Organisation.
What experiences from your previous jobs will help you in this new role?
The past few years for me were primarily focused on international work. I had the privilege of understanding the differences, needs and contexts of many stakeholders, actors, institutions, and peers. That gave me a good starting point to develop my knowledge and skills and take the next step at EURASHE. That previous experience also allowed me to get more understanding of the vast landscape of higher education policy in Europe. The reality is so complex, diverse and vibrant that it is pretty bold to say by anyone that one does understand it fully. Every country, and every Higher Education system, has its local ecosystem. That is why our Bologna Process is an achievement worth caring about. At the same time, we need to be forward-looking as the fast-changing world is not giving us the comfort of observing the business-as-usual. The pace of work in previous enquiries will serve as a good basis for looking at the developments in the sector in an agile and holistic way.
After a month in EURASHE, how do you see the Organisation?
From a freshman perspective, the strength of EURASHE lies within its team. People around here are professional and welcoming, and from my point of view, the team I joined is on the right path to achieving organisational growth and possesses a good set of skills within the crew.
I cannot say much about EURASHE’s “policy drivers,” which are, as in most stakeholder organisations, the members who form the General Assembly, which consists of institutions and national umbrella organisations of HEIs. I look forward to the months ahead to getting to know institutions’ representatives and seeing how the General Assembly and the political structures of EURASHE drive the work and policy of the Organisation. As in any member-based organisation, the main aim should be to serve its members and their needs. Many of the areas currently on the policy tables around will be relevant in upcoming years – even more for the applied education providers. As an example, let’s put forward the development of micro-credentials.
What are your main goals as the new Project and Policy Officer?
Organisation-wise, I wish to support EURASHE’s development by providing additional capacity to the team. What characterises well-functioning organisations is the willingness to grow. Maintaining EURASHE’s position as one of the critical stakeholders within different educational forums and building capacity through the projects will allow us to build capacity and contribute to sector development.
What are the first tasks you are working on?
I started this job at the end of September, which is always an intense time when looking at the policy and project calendar, making it interesting! Just a few days after, we understood from the State of the Union speech by Ursula von der Leyen that 2023 will be named the year of skills. Understanding the possibilities and shaping the ideas for accommodating EURASHE’s priorities is an overarching work we aim to carry out now. In addition to that Organisation is starting a few projects this year. The QA-Fit and Bologna with Stakeholders’ Eyes 2030 are the ones I will be contributing to from EURASHE’s side. On top of that, we have re-launched the QA Community of Practice. Next year will be intense regarding the debates on European Quality Assurance, both within the Bologna Process and the European Education Area.
Which do you think should be the main EURASHE Policy priorities?
EURASHE’s priorities, in my opinion, should be related directly to some of the tasks I have mentioned in answering the previous question. As the main goal, I would point to establishing and keeping on top of the strong position of the Applied Education sector in the discourse on the current and future European HE landscape. Institutions providing applied education and science are already playing a vital role in strengthening social cohesion by providing education to the local communities and providing the answer to the needs of the labour market. This connection between societal needs and educational offer is another field where there is space to improve – the main question is how to ensure an agile adaptation of the programmes to the needs of students and the local community and businesses while at the same time ensuring high-quality education and stability of our institutions. This field should be backed up with relevant funding programmes and schemes, which allow our institutions to grow and adapt to the challenges of the third decade of the 21st Century, which didn’t start as best as it could…
What are the main challenges facing Higher Education Institutions?
- Keeping the relevancy and attractiveness for the wide-society
- Making education more inclusive and, at the same time, of high quality for all
- Boosting the process of internationalisation
- Let’s hope that education will remain a priority throughout the time we are going through.
Tell us, what is your biggest inspiration?
Ah, the tuff questions are appearing! I was always inspired while observing people achieving their goals against all odds and backgrounds from which they are coming. Regardless of what it is, a professional sportsperson, musician, researcher, or noble prize winner – every success was achieved through restless dedication and commitment.
How does a perfect day look for you?
I wish I had more days like this! A run or other sports like surfing before breakfast on some coasts is a brilliant start. That should be followed up with a healthy and tasty breakfast. I wouldn’t mind having a car trip along the way, visiting some sites, walking around and ending up a day with good company and music.
To have a time machine.
David Bowie – Heroes