The organizers have identified five clusters of themes that seem to be particularly relevant. They are a subset of the overarching theme:

In what way can universities be trustworthy communities of teaching and learning for a sustainable future for all citizens of our very diverse societies?

1. Academic and related civic values in changing societies

Autonomy, academic freedom, equity and integrity have entered common usage in recent decades. They are considered to be among the core values of academia and crucial conditions for trust and reliability. Yet making declarations about such principles of good practice isn’t the same as actually embracing and practicing them.
Clientelism, commodification, corruption are only a few among the many deviations from good and fair practice. Operational autonomy of universities in relation to the state is often followed up by new and other regulators that are more influential than state bureaucracies have ever been. How can universities be safe havens of open debate and free expression in times of high political tension? How to build strong communities of shared values and how to monitor living or cheating academic values in the EHEA – these are the types of questions that we would like to see addressed.

Similarly, we would welcome contributions on knowledge production, transmission and dissemination as a public good. The high days of the concept of the public or common good in relation to higher education and research seem to be over. How to bend this trend?


Liviu Matei

Provost of Central European University


Janika Spannagel

Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi)


Daniel Kontowski

University of Winchester & European Liberal Arts Initiative (ELAI)


Paolo Maria Mancarella

Rector, University of Pisa

2. Student-centred Learning

Students are the primary raison d’être of any university. Their successful knowledge and skills acquisition and their subsequent graduate careers are what universities are for. So it comes as no surprise that student-centred learning has become a standard phrase in curriculum design, in quality assurance as well as in educational policies. At the same time mass enrolment, standardized performance measuring and classroom traditionalism are anything but promoting student agency, individual sense of ownership and freedom of choice.
We would like to invite colleagues to present cases of good practice and successful innovations. Above all we would like to encourage students or recent graduates themselves to participate and contribute; if possible not only by analysis and criticism, but also by presenting good practices of student-centred learning.


Teun J Dekker

Maastricht University


Manja Klemenčič

Harvard University


Ann Katherine Isaacs

BFUG Vice-chair (BFUG)


Terry Maguire

Director, National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning

3. Providing Leadership for Sustainable Development, the Role of Higher Education

The Sustainable Development Goals are set by the United Nations to achieve a more sustainable future for all. They each are specific and interconnected at the same time. It is crystal clear that working towards these goals requires skilled people and the right kind of policies, innovative solutions and constructive collaborations on many fields. Interdisciplinary teaching, learning and research at universities have a key role to play. For higher education institutions these goals require a deep rethinking of traditional education and the design of innovative research projects and programs.
It is our ambition to empower Higher Education and Research systems in the EHEA to play a more strategic and effective role in meeting these goals by identifying and sharing powerful arguments, attractive incentives and good practice already implemented in academia.


Hilligje van’t Land

Secretary General of the IAU


Valentina Tafuni

Student, UDU – Unione degli Universitari


Michelle O’Dowd Lohan

National University of Ireland


George Sharvashidze

Rector, Tbilisi State University Ivane Javakhishvili

4. The Social Dimensions of Higher Education

Universities do not exist for themselves or for members of their academic communities in the first place. Their role and use is a societal one. This poses a catalogue of challenges. If society is to benefit, how can this best be done? If society is to benefit, which society are we talking about? How can existing inequalities of Higher Education and Research in terms of access and outreach be smoothened? How could academia become a diverse community itself? As super-diversity is a characteristic of many societies in our time, it is a true challenge for universities to truly reflect and embrace this trait. Is HE ready to move beyond present indicators of productivity in research and teaching and integrate scientific excellence with social responsibility?
The rise of ‘populism’ with its strongly anti-elitist and anti-intellectual tendencies makes universities look as standing apart, on the side of cosmopolitanism, internationalism and other in the eyes of some undesirable isms. Can Higher Education regain its position in the centre of society and be making sense to all of it?


Chris Brink

Formerly Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University, and Vice-Chancellor of Newcastle University


John Storan

University of East London

5. Careers and Skills for the Labour Market of the future

There is already a long tradition of skills and competences-oriented education to respond to the assumed demands of a developing labour market. This has been a welcome addition and correction to a knowledge base driven curriculum. It seems, however, that additional adjustments are needed. Skills and competences have usually been defined in terms of a changing world of technological innovation, business reinventions and global connectivity. Isn’t another look at the labour market of the future needed, one that includes social innovation, local relevance and community development? Our societal developments require profound and agile skills in teachers, local leadership professions and competences for community build-up. Whereas in East Asia a recent trend has been pointing to the arts, the humanities and the social sciences as disciplinary fields where innovated knowledge and skills are needed in the interest of diverse societies, the same fields are very under pressure in the US and some place in Europe. Learning from Asian examples might be part of what we should do in the EHEA.


Agneta Bladh

Former State Secretary in the Swedish Ministry of Education and Science, former Rector of the University of Kalmar, Chairman of the Swedish Research Council


Dirk Van Damme

Senior Counsellor in the Directorate for Education and Skills at the OECD in Paris