Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Equity in European Higher Education Seminar

The Equity in European Higher Education: State of the research, problems, ideas and perspectives Seminar took place for a full day at the University Foundation, in Brussels, on the 7th November 2012. 

It included special focuses on migration and lifelong learning in line with the second and third EQUNET reports. You can read the programme here.

The Seminar was organised by EquNet, MENON network, in the frame of the EquNet project, with the support of the Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Commission and in cooperation with ENAR - the European Network Against Racism - with the aim "to aggregate energies from the main European networks and organisations active both  in the higher education field  and  in equity-related activities, to discuss the importance of equity in EU higher education."

"The Seminar aimed to aggregate the main European networks and organisations active in the higher education field and in equity-related activities, to discuss the issue of equity in higher education in Europe."

The workshop gathered 50 participants from European HE associations, universities, research actors, experts, NGOs, associations.

Fabio Nascimbeni, Director MENON 
photo: GS (via Android)

Fabio Nascimbeni, Director of MENON has coordinated the seminar that started with the welcome addresses by Maria Kristin Gylfadottir, European Commission and Nikitas Kastis, MENON.

Professor Roberto Carneiro, MENON, was the notable rapporteur.
The seminar aimed to be a genuine dialogue moment:
  • Contribute, starting from the results of the EquNet research and of similar exercises, to shaping EU and national policies in the field of Higher Education;
  • Foster the exchange of research findings, working practices and ideas among relevant stakeholders and communities, in particular facilitating contact between the academic and the civil society communities
  • Present the EquNet set of HE equity indicators, a set of tools and methods developed to actually “measure” equity in European higher education.
An interesting and enriched opportunity to listen, knowing better the last reports, and share ideas on the current paradigms and evolution about social inclusion and equity in the fileld of Higher Education. 
The workshop represented a genuine dialogue moment between Higher Education and social inclusion stakeholders, and experts. It reached a number of important objectives.

The EquNet Report represented the basis for the discussions held during the seminar. 

Starting from the results of the EquNet research by Karin Doolan, University of Zagreb, "General view of research on equity in Higher Education". Her presentation was a highlighted moment applauded by all the participants.

The seminar continued with similar exercises, "to refining the understanding of what would be needed in terms of EU and national policies. Second, it fostered the exchange of research findings, working practices and ideas among relevant stakeholders and communities, in particular facilitating contact between the academic and the civil society communities. Third, it represented a step towards the materialisation of the idea of an HE equity indicator, as a way to actually “measure” equity in European higher education."

Final Seminar | Brussels

The good efforts developed in secondary and primary education in the last decades were highlighted by different speakers. 

I really appreciated that. As an expert, and an innovative researcher in the field, I know well the efforts of creative teachers and educators that welcomed and raised the first post-millennial "digital native," learners, sharing innovative experiences defined by the 'technological culture' which they're familiar with, and guiding them for Higher Education. 

Pavel Zgaga from University of Ljubljana Times are changing: Do we need to reconsider our approaches how to achieve equity in higher education? that  highlighted the good efforts in primary and secondary education developed into "mass" and "universal" systems in the last years but he was sceptical about tertiary education: "Is it reasonable to expect that tertiary education will become "universal" in the same way?"

Mary Tupan-Wenno slide

Mary Tupan-Wenno from ECHO - really new her definition of allochtoon’  (students “not from the Netherlands”) versus ‘autochtoon' - talking about diversity and equity policy to improve access and success of migrant students in the Netherlands.

Anne-Marie Bathmaker Higher Education, Social Class and the Mobilisation of Capitals highlighted the importance of "cultivating capitals through extra-curricular activities", using a Bourdieusian perspective on capitals.

Professor Roberto Carneiro in his conclusions recalled: "Revisit Bourdieu - forms of capital - Human (Economic) capital alone is insufficient. Need to further knowledge on the impact of cultural capital, i.e. follow up studies in the labour market and measuring returns of natives vs immigrants with same HE attainment."

The final debate "Where is equity/equality in the modern policymaking and policy priorities in the field of higher education?" moderated by Chripa Schneller, UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning opened an interesting dialogue about equity/equality with all the participants. 

Panel 2 | Prof. Roberto Carneiro (rapporteur)
photo: GS (via Android)

Leon Cremonini provided examples of equality policies from non-European countries, such as Brazil, Vietnam, South Africa, Ukraine and Qatar. The context and thus the challenges are very different in these countries and might help Europeans to think outside the box. The example of Brazil, a country with a rapidly growing higher education sector, showed that free access to higher education might not be the key to  more and to more equitable access. It is rather sector-encompassing quality education that makes a difference.

Professor Roberto Carneiro, the notable academic (MENON) was the rapporteur. He  summarised the discussions of the day by presenting some lessons learnt through the EquNet work Impressions and Illustrations and pointed out some inputs for a “refreshed” European agenda on equity in higher education.

"Probably, the most important factor of change, that appeared before 2008 but in that year became “the most important issue of the year”, is the financial crisis that affected practically all countries of the world. 

The disruptive consequences of this crisis are still to be properly measured, and are still being produced in a good part of the world, but they affect not only the wealth of nations and common people, but also equity and social cohesion, re-distribution of income and the inequality gap."

Read the complete final report of the seminar here

At the end of the day we might conclude: “It’s poverty, stupid! Not race, creed, or colour of skin!”


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Credits: photo | image EquNet
            photos GS 

            Slide Mary Tupan-Wanno | EQUNET public materials

Public Seminar Materials

Report of the Seminar

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