Inclusive and responsive universities – ensuring Europe’s competitiveness
Hosted by the Erasmus University Rotterdam
23-25 October 2008
The Lisbon Declaration underlines the important role Europe’s universities play, with their different traditions, missions and strengths and in their different local environments, in promoting social equity and building an inclusive society. Significant efforts are already being made to widen the socio-economic basis of their student populations and to ensuring access and giving opportunities to succeed to all those qualified and with the potential to benefit from higher education. These are issues central to the success of the Bologna process, and as Trends V demonstrated, the challenge now is to ‘re-engage with the overall purpose of the reform and ensure that a stronger student focus, employability, mobility, attractiveness and social inclusion are firmly embedded as characteristics of the emerging EHEA’.
The Rotterdam conference will address these different aspects in the context of the European Universities Charter on LLL that EUA is presently preparing and against the backdrop of the demographic challenges facing Europe, in particular the aging of many populations. This has implications both for internal migration and immigration while adding to the emphasis on and importance of making lifelong learning a reality in our universities in the years to come, both with regard to continuing education and training for well qualified graduates and to initial education for disadvantaged groups. The rapidity with which new knowledge becomes obsolete as well as the need to respond to the pace of technological change and innovation only serve to underline the important challenges facing Europe’s universities in remaining competitive and the importance of being able to equip young and not so young populations to play their part in the Knowledgesociety.
The Rotterdam conference will
- explore the role of universities in promoting social equity and a more inclusive society with a focus on the strategic reasons for change (the impact of demographic change, the link to competitiveness etc.) for shifting towards a more comprehensive lifelong learning approach
- consider the importance of developing a shared European approach, essential if a flexible European labour market is to become a reality
- seek to develop a shared understanding of the role of universities in lifelong learning, taking account of the development of the European Universities Charter on Lifelong Learning
- identify the challenges related to the development and implementation of institutional strategies for enhancing inclusiveness and responsiveness and meeting the challenges of lifelong learning, using examples of good practice from different parts of Europe
- address the particular importance of lifelong learning in relation to regional development by looking at case studies from different parts of Europe
The overall goals are to
- raise awareness of the strategic reasons requiring a shift to a more comprehensive lifelong learning agenda for Europe’s universities
- contribute to the development of European policies and strategies for promoting inclusive and responsive universities
- clarify better the roles and responsibilities of governments and institutions as well as the specific incentives that public authorities could be asked to provide to universities to meet this common challenge
- contribute to formulating a European strategy on LLL both in the context of the Bologna process and at EU level as a contribution to meeting Lisbon objectives
The conference should be of interest to institutional leaders (Rectors, vice rectors, heads of administration, students), as well as other organisations involved in educational policy, social partners, employers and senior government officials.