Speech by Stéphane Lauwick, President of EURASHE at the Annual Conference addressing the Future of Education and Civic and democratic values

Sincere welcome from EURASHE:

Thanks to our hosts the Hungarian Rectors conference

EURASHE is
More than 600 members, universities of applied sciences and university colleges
individual HEIs and rector conferences. It represents Applied science, Research and
Education within the EHEA, Bologna Process

Vision

EURASHE strives to support the development and transformation of European
society through professional higher education.

Mission

EURASHE’s mission is to strengthen the impact of innovative, high quality
professional higher education and related user-oriented research in Europe by
representing professional higher education institutions and facilitating their multistakeholder
cooperation and dialogue.

New learning

The new world 4.0 is upon us. Modern technology has started to upend the world as
we know it. We are seeing the consequences. 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. At the same time so many come to us for help from countries
beyond our borders
Academic like us are stunned by the end of truth, by the events in America or closer
to our shores in Britain…

Everyday in our classrooms and lecture theatres, we realise that our students are
different. They do not learn like we would expect them to, they surprise us by a
mixture of self-assuredness and inability to come to terms with the realities of
modern competition. We find it difficult to relate to their attitude to learning.

In fact, this world, our New World, needs new education systems. Systems that
enable every European citizen to find their way, invent their own learning pathways,
define their own goals, in short, construct their own personal excellence. Clearly this
is not happening now, or it is not happening fast enough. Our structures are too
rigid, we think in silos; the skills mismatch is still the same as it was 20 years ago…
In fact, at EURASHE we strongly believe Professional Higher Education can, must and
will redress inequalities and contribute to the creation of opportunities for people of
all ages, social and economic groups. Our future is clear: We engage our members
to be agents of change, agents of opportunities, just like we must train our students
to become agents of change, agents of opportunities.
We need more support — however, at EURASHE we engage our members in thinking
the onus is on us. If we want our students to reach their own excellence, it’s up to
us.

Civic and democratic values

Indeed, at EURASHE, we know that our 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. Our vision is that the role of UAS here in Europe is to effect a
transformation of society.
We assert that better Education, more Education is the only way to promote the values
we all share in this room: democratic participation, the promotion of human rights,
the rule of law. This is the reason why we chose to be associated with the promotion
of the election for the EP this Spring.
We claim that our brand of HE, more than any other, finds its roots in the promotion
of diversity. Diversity of cultures, diversity of origins, diversity of pathways and, also,
diversity of abilities.
There you are: Transformation, Participation and Diversity are three key words for our
future, 3 words EURASHE is passionate about.

HE is about research.

We believe for example that including initiation to research and

educating the inquisitive mind of students from day One of their learning progress will
promote self-questioning, the realisation that we all depend on each other.
You see, UAS define their training and research endeavours within their regional
ecosystems. They use their autonomy to be creative, involve their stakeholders, to
respond to the varied demands of all operators. This is how institutions become not
only more efficient at training students and fostering innovation but also at allowing
its students to better understand the world around them, And promoting dialogue with
various operators and institutions means understanding different realities, different
men and women.
The projects led by our students and staff may sometimes be small, yet by including
a constellation of diverse stakeholders, large and small, a wide range of stakeholders
involved at state, regional and local levels, they enable learning and develop the social
skills that are essential to our students. Mostly we need to be promoters and agents
of social cohesion.
At EURASHE we have witnessed, and indeed analysed, that frontiers are getting
blurred. World class research can address regional issues; a master programme,
dare I say a Professional Doctoral programme in a UAS can also address
fundamental issues and produce women and men able to become world-class
leaders. How you can reconcile small and large, local and regional: How you blur the
frontiers between education and research, and within research how you integrate the
regional and the fundamental: ultimately, how you develop a holistic approach to
issues, how you equip every student with tools to comprehend and build a better
world, this quest is the future of HE. This is the very reason why I am happy today
of being the guest of the Hungarian Rectors conference, a conference that breaks
barriers in gathering both academic universities and the applied sciences.

New skills

The key question remains: our jobs are changing in ways no-one can anticipate. Crises
and (r)evolutions happen without teachers, trainers or researchers being able to
prepare our students. Any business owner will tell you he or she doesn’t know what
skills and competences they will need in 3 to 5 years’ time. Yet it takes exactly 3 to 5
years to train a young professional.
Employers have increasingly been demanding transferable skills of our students, the
ability to work in a team, creative thinking and problem solving; they’ve also asked
HEI to provide new skills to retrain their staff. UAS have been reasonably good at
providing these; yet the pace of change is increasing: new jobs demanding new skills
appear every month.
This conference rests on the belief that we can hope to comprehend the framework
for the future of education in our next 10 years at least by reflecting on the following
questions: How can you anticipate what you don’t know? how can you expect the
unexpected? Mostly: how can you steer your life, be it personal or professional, in
times of uncertainty and yet find the relevant answers for you and society?
This conference dares to suggest that Relevance in times of Uncertainty are the bywords
that will guide us in the coming decade. In the coming two days, I am sure you
will find a wealth of ideas, best practices to bring back home to your own institutions
and practices.
Thank you.

Stéphane Lauwick,

President of EURASHE, 16 May 2019