Higher education is crucial for developing the knowledge and skills that Europe needs to compete in the world economy, but Member States are not investing enough to modernise their higher education systems. A new High Level Group on the Modernisation of Higher Education, launched by the European Commission today, will address this issue as part of a comprehensive three-year review of the sector across the European Union.
The group, chaired by Mary McAleese, former President of Ireland, will focus this year on how best to achieve quality and excellence in teaching and learning; then, next year, it will discuss how to adapt learning in the digital age. The Group will identify best practices and creative solutions, as well as making recommendations to national and European policy makers, universities and colleges. It will report for the first time in 2013 and has a mandate until 2015.
Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, said: "Everybody remembers a teacher who inspired or motivated them. With the help of the high level group I want to ensure that every student, regardless of where they live or study in Europe, will benefit from quality teaching. This is a pre-condition for innovation, jobs and growth. Teaching excellence is also a fundamental requirement for identifying and supporting sustainable pathways out of the current crisis."
Mary McAleese added: "I am very honoured to chair this group. I care deeply about Europe and its young generation, which has been struck so hard by the crisis. Our group will examine how to nurture excellent teaching in our universities so that our young people receive the best education and the best possible employment prospects."
During the next three years the group will consult experts from higher education, government and businesses, as well as students and teachers.
The launch of this group is a part of a broader strategy to modernise the higher education sector in Member States. The Commission has already made considerable progress in this area. The Bologna Process has made it easier for students to study abroad and have their qualifications recognised throughout Europe.
The European multidimensional university ranking system, due to be published for the first time in 2013, will also facilitate comparisons between universities so that students will be able to make a more informed choice about where to study. It will also enable the Commission to track the progress of universities in a range of different the areas which will be the basis for the new ranking: quality of teaching and learning, research, knowledge transfer, international outreach strategies, and the role of universities in regional development.