On Tuesday 18 June, the EU high-level group on modernisation of higher education published and presented its first “report to the European Commission on improving the quality of teaching and learning in Europe’s higher education institutions”.
The group, launched last year by the European Commission and chaired by former President of Ireland Mary McAleese, and to which EUA provided input, makes 16 recommendations to different stakeholders including HE institutions and public authorities. These include a call for mandatory certified training for professors and other higher education teaching staff, more focus on helping students to develop entrepreneurial and innovative skills, and the creation of a European Academy of Teaching and Learning.
EUA Secretary General, Lesley Wilson, said: “We welcome the publication of this report as it draws attention to issues that are crucial for Europe’s universities, their staff and students, and echoes many of the issues related to teaching and learning that have or are currently being addressed by EUA through its different activities.”
For example, EUA has for a long time underlined the importance of professional development of teachers and therefore hopes the EU will indeed follow up on the report’s recommendation for it to support the establishment of a European Academy for Teaching and Learning which is led by stakeholders.
The report also recommends that higher education institutions and national policy makers in partnership with students should establish counselling, guidance, mentoring and tracking systems to support students into higher education, and on their way to graduation and beyond. It cites the EUA-led TRACKIT project* as an example of an initiative that has surveyed tracking initiatives of students and graduates in Europe, and provides guidelines for higher education institutions which intend to develop or enhance tracking.
A further recommendation is that HEIs should develop and implement holistic internationalisation strategies as an integral part of their overall mission and functions thus supporting the position already taken by EUA and reflected in the recently published results of a membership consultation on this topic. 99% of institutions that replied to this consultation either have an internationalisation strategy in place (56%), intend to develop one (13%), or have considered internationalisation in other strategies (30%).
EUA would also like to draw attention to the fact that it is important that developments in learning and teaching take into account the needs of different groups of learners including mature students, and also recent developments in learning provision (for example the impact of new technologies).
EUA will continue to explore in close cooperation with its member institutions the enhancement of learning and teaching and of the quality of the student experience. In this regard, the recent MAUNIMO project* put emphasis on development of institutional strategies for student and staff mobility. It has piloted an institutional ”mobility tool” within 30 European universities. The tool, which is now undergoing final testing with a view to a launch later this year, is designed to support universities in their strategic planning regarding all types of mobility.
The EU high-level group is now due to begin work on the second part of its mission, focused on how to “maximise the impact of new methods of delivering quality higher education, such as massive open online courses” (”MOOCs”). Its next report is due to be published in June 2014.
The full report and recommendations can be downloaded here.
* Both the TRACKIT and MAUNIMO projects have been supported by funding from the EU’s Lifelong Learning Programme.