EUA Secretary General Lesley Wilson was invited to give evidence before the UK’s House of Lords Consumer Protection and Social Policies EU Sub-Committee, on the subject of the EU’s contribution to the modernisation of Higher Education in Europe, on 2 February.
The Committee is conducting the inquiry as a response to the European Commission’s recent communication on the subject and aims to establish whether the initiatives outlined by the Commission are the most appropriate to fulfil its supportive role in higher education or whether there are other ways in which the EU might add value in this area.
The initiatives cited by the Committee include the new “U-Multirank” tool, an analysis of the impact of different funding approaches on student mobility and on the diversification and efficiency of higher education systems, a proposal for a European Masters level student loan, a strengthening of synergies between EU and intergovernmental processes (mainly the Bologna Process/European Higher Education Area), support for the internationalisation of higher education, the placing of higher education at the centre of innovation, job creation and employability, and a strengthening of the long-term impact and complementarity of EU funding.
During her evidence, Lesley Wilson was quizzed on a number of issues including how beneficial the Bologna Process has been for European higher education institutions, what the major challenges will be in the coming decade, the importance of collaborative research, the success of Erasmus and how to increase participation, university rankings, the mobility of researchers, and whether enhancing the EU’s contribution to research, education and innovation will help European universities retain their competitive edge over the US and China.
Among other things, she stressed the achievements of the Bologna Process and the Erasmus Programme, how they have transformed European higher education, as well as remaining challenges. She also underlined the added value of EU investment in higher education and research and emphasised in particular the need to promote the mobility of researchers further.
The House of Lords had previously invited four British university leaders to give evidence as part of the same inquiry. EUA understands that the Committee is due to publish a report later in the year.