Higher Education and Research

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The work of the Council of Europe in the field of higher education and research focuses on issues related to the recognition of qualifications, public responsibility for higher education and research, higher education governance and other fields relevant for the establishment of the European Higher Education Area by 2010. The Council of Europe also supports reform of higher education in the so-called priority regions, mainly the South East Europe, South Caucasus and CIS countries.

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European Wergeland Centre

The European Wergeland Centre is a European resource centre on education for intercultural understanding, human rights and democratic citizenship. It is established in cooperation between Norway and the Council of Europe. The centre was inaugurated in Oslo on 29 May 2009.

North-South Centre

North-South Centre's mandate: provide a framework for North-South co-operation to increase public awareness of global interdependence issues and promote policies of solidarity in conformity with the aims and principles of the Council of Europe.

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The Council of Europe Higher Education Series

The Council of Europe Higher Education Series, launched in 2004, aims to explore higher education issues of concern to policy makers in Ministries, higher education institutions and non-governmental organizations, and student representatives. Beyond that, the books will be of interest to all those interested in the development and future of higher education in Europe.

The topics covered by the Higher Education Series reflect the commitment of the Council of Europe to the basic values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law and its belief that education and higher education play a key role in developing the democratic culture without which democratic societies cannot thrive as well as in developing the skills, knowledge and values that modern, complex societies require.

The volumes in the Council of Europe Higher Education Series reflect the lively debate on higher education policy currently underway in Europe as well as the Council of Europe’s contributions to that debate. Authors are invited to put forward their own views on the topics selected, and the Series seeks to provide a forum for debate rather than outline a set of official positions. Through the topics covered and the views presented, higher education policy makers at all levels will hopefully find inspiration and ideas for their own work.

You can download our brochure (.pdf document) here.

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The Council of Europe does not recognize Higher Education Institutions

In light of the increasing number of higher education providers that claim to be recognized by the Council of Europe or other international organizations, we wish to make it clear that the Council of Europe does not recognize or in any other way bestow legitimacy on any higher education institution, programme or provision. Institutional recognition is normally within the competence of national authorities and is normally conditional on the institution or programme undergoing quality assessment.

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Lisbon Convention: How to Check Ratifications and Signatures
Tips for checking ratifications and signatures of the Council of Europe/ UNESCO Recognition Convention.

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3/04/2014
The Lisbon Recognition Convention at 15: New Book in the Council of Europe Higher Education Series

Volume 19 of the Council of Europe Higher Education Series has now been published. The Lisbon Recognition Convention at 15, edited by Sjur Bergan and Carita Blomqvist, examines some of the challenges to the international recognition of qualifications. The Lisbon Recognition Convention is an essential legal text, but it needs to be put into better practice. How can learners use their degrees and qualifications in a new country, without losing the real value of those qualifications? The authors, who come from a variety of backgrounds, review the policies and practice of recognition, link recognition to the broader higher education policy debate and consider the role of recognition in enabling individuals to move freely across borders.

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25/10/2013
Declaration adopted at the Regional meeting of Ministers of Education in Yerevan
High-level delegations from Armenia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation and Ukraine gathered in Yerevan to discuss the relevant issues of the higher education reform process. The meeting allowed to have a broad discussion on the main issues of the implementation of the European Higher Education Area. It included parallel sessions of Ministers, regional network of correspondents for national qualifications frameworks, as well as the meeting of students on students’ participation in higher education governance. At the end of the meeting the declaration was adopted (in English, Russian and Armenian versions).

[more]
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03/09/2013
Council of Europe supports academic emergency assistance for Syrian students abroad

The Council of Europe supports the initiative taken by HE President Jorge Sampaio, former President of Portugal, called Global Platform 4 Syrian Students.  The initiative aims at offering places of study for Syrian students abroad.  A call for further offers has now been issued and we encourage all higher education institutions to consider offering support.
Announcement
FAQ 1st call
Application form

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04/07/2013
A new subsidiary text to the Lisbon recognition convention

During its sixth meeting held in Split on the 19 June, the Lisbon recognition convention Committee adopted a new subsidiarity text on “The use of Qualifications Framework in the recognition of foreign qualifications”. The development of national qualifications frameworks provides a new tool for transparency and comparability for the recognition of qualifications. This new text takes notes of this situation and indicates general guidelines for their use.
Explanatory memorandum.

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7/03/2013
New book in Higher Education series
Reimagining Democratic Societies: a New Era of Personal and Social Responsibility has just been published as volume 18 in the Council of Europe Higher Education Series. Edited by Sjur Bergan (Council of Europe), Ira Harkavy (International Consortium for Higher Education, Civic Responsibility and Democracy) and Hilligje van’t Land (International Association of Universities), the book makes the case for why democratic reimagination and innovation cannot succeed without higher education and why higher education cannot fulfill its educational, academic and societal missions without working for the common good. Authors from both Europe and the United States show that as societies change, our understanding of democracy must evolve and aim to develop democratic culture and democratic innovation. Educated, committed citizens deeply involved in creating and sustaining diverse democratic societies are essential for human progress and advancing the quality of life for all.

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26/11/2012
2nd regional meeting of Ministers of Education on the implementation of the European Higher Education Area

This meeting gathered delegations from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, the Republic of Moldova, the Russian Federation and Ukraine. The meeting focused on the issues of particular relevance to ministries of education of the countries concerned, with specific focus on the implementation of national qualifications frameworks and its link to quality assurance.

A declaration was adopted at the end of the meeting. [more]
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25/06/2012
New Recommendation on the Public Responsibility for Academic Freedom and Institutional Autonomy

On June 20, the Committee of Ministers adopted Recommendation CM/Rec(2012)7 on the Public Responsibility on Academic Freedom and Institutional Autonomy. While several international texts address issues of academic freedom and institutional autonomy, this recommendation is – to our knowledge – the first to do so explicitly with a view to the role of public authorities. The provisions of the recommendation are also considered in an Explanatory memorandum.

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17/05/2012
Council of Europe plays active role in “Bologna” Ministerial Conference

Ministers of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) – also known as the Bologna Process – met in Bucharest on 26 – 27 April. The Bologna Policy Forum, gathering EHEA ministers and high ranking representatives of countries from other parts of the world, was held end on with the EHEA Ministerial conference.

The Council of Europe contributed very actively to both events, in the Ministerial conference as a participant in a panel debate and as a contributor to the general debate and in the Bologna Policy Forum by organizing sessions on qualifications frameworks and on the public responsibility for higher education, the latter jointly with the International Association of Universities.

The EHEA Ministers adopted the Bucharest Communiqué and a Mobility Strategy, whereas the Bologna Policy Forum adopted a statement.

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13/01/2012
Seminar on the implementation of the European Higher Education Area in the Republic of Moldova

On 1-2 December, the Free International University of Moldova hosted a seminar on the implementation of the European Higher Education Area in the Republic of Moldova. The event was organised by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Moldova and the Council of Europe in co-operation with the Bologna Secretariat. The participants – representatives of higher education institutions from the Republic of Moldova and abroad, of public authorities and international institutions – reviewed the higher education reform in the Republic of Moldova in order to ensure convergence with the principles of EHEA. A biennial Forum for the Modernisation of Higher Education will be organised in order to analyse the achievements, challenges, reform actions and policies needed to move forward, and public discussion of the National Qualifications Framework with external expertise and certification of compliance to the European Qualifications Framework shall be promoted.

Link to the documents and presentations from the seminar

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07/11/2011
Council of Europe is Interviewed by GUNI

GUNI (the Global University Network for Innovation) recently published an interview with the Head of the Council of Europe’s Education Department, Sjur Bergan. The text is in English, the interview itself in Spanish with English subtitles.
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28/09/2011
Council of Europe highlights the role of education in building a culture of living together


In the aftermath of the dramatic events in Oslo, the Council of Europe discussed the role of education in building a culture of living together at a Forum organised on 22 and 23 September in Kyiv under the Ukrainian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.At the end of the Forum a Communiqué was adopted. [More]
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05/07/2011
Successful conference on ‘Reimagining democratic societies’ in Oslo

On 27 – 29 July, the Council of Europe, the US Steering Committee of the International Consortium for Higher Education, Civic Responsibility and Democracy, the European Wergeland Centre, the University of Oslo and the International Association of Universities (IAU) organized a conference on “Reimagining Democratic Societies: a New Era of personal and Social Responsibility?" with the support of the Norwegian Ministries of Education and Foreign Affairs. The conference was held at the University of Oslo as a part of its 200th anniversary celebrations and the Norwegian Minister of Higher Education and Research, Tora Aasland, the Rector of the University of Oslo, Ole Petter Ottersen, and the coordinator for Council of Europe issues in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Carola Bjørklund, were among the speakers at the opening session.

Material from the conference will be published as it is made available; here is a first summary.
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23/06/2011
Reimagining democratic societies: a new era of personal and social responsibility?
Oslo, Norway – June 27-29, 2011

The international conference organized by various European, US and Norwegian institutions1 takes place in the framework of the 200th anniversary of the University of Oslo. The aim is to promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law as well as social cohesion, intercultural dialogue and the role of education to reach these goals.

The focus is on the role of higher education in relation to the reimagination of democratic societies and democratic citizenship. Thereby, workshops with ca. 150 representatives from higher education institutions, administrations, student unions and local communities develop further strategies to strengthen this role.

For more information, visit the conference website.
Here you can find the draft programme.
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23/06/2011
Council of Europe speaks at European Access Network anniversary conference

The European Access Network celebrated its 20th anniversary with a conference at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam on 20 – 22 June. The topic of this year’s conference was “Student Diversity in Higher Education: Conflicting Realities” and the Council of Europe was invited to give one of two keynote speeches at the opening session.

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21/06/2011
New book in the Council of Europe Higher Education Series

Volume 17 of the Council of Europe Higher Education Series has just been published. Entitled Not by Bread Alone, the book brings together a series of essays by Sjur Bergan, Head of the Council of Europe’s higher education programme, covering the missions of higher education, reflections on public responsibility for higher education and issues concerning qualifications and recognition.

All titles in the Council of Europe Higher Education Series may be ordered through the Council of Europe bookshop.

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21/06/2011
Publication of the European University Association's 2010 Annual Report

The European University Association (EUA) 2010 Annual Report highlights the importance of the formal launch of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) in Vienna/Budapest in March 2010. At the same time the coming into force of the EU Lisbon Treaty with its Title XIX on European research marked a success for the European Research Area (ERA). Thereby, data provided by more than 800 universities in the Trends 2010 report demonstrated the EUA's role at the centre of the EHEA and the ERA.
Moreover, the EUA 2010 Annual Conference in Palermo entitled “Diversities and Commonalities – the changing face of Europe’s universities” identified the crucial role of university leaders in steering their institutions in difficult times, requiring universities to sharpen their missions and individual profiles in response to growing demands and the continued economic crisis.

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21/06/2011
Council of Europe speaks at conference to mark 10th anniversary of Turkey’s accession to the Bologna Process

On 15 June, the Turkish authorities and higher education community marked the 10th anniversary of Turkey’s accession to the European Higher Education Area with a conference on “Bologna Implementations in Turkey after 10 Years”. The conference was organized jointly by the Turkish Council of Higher Education, Galatasaray University and Turkish National Agency. The Conference focused on the most important dimensions on the implementations of the Bologna Process and brought together the Rectors of all higher education institutions in Turkey, together with representatives from the National Student Union, the Vocational Qualifications Authority and other relevant stakeholders as well as international speakers. The Council of Europe provided a presentation on the achievements and challenges of qualifications frameworks.

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31/05/2011
Council of Europe speaks at ACA conference

The 2011 conference of the Academic Cooperation Association was held in Vienna on 23 – 24 May on the theme of “The Excellence Imperative: World Class Aspirations and Real World Needs”. The conference provided a good overview of the main topics related to excellence and drew on presentations from international organizations as well as higher education institutions, public authorities and individual experts, such as Professor Ellen Hazelkorn, Dublin Institute of Technology. It took a broad view of the excellence debate, including topics such as the role of liberal arts in Europe and “the responsible university”, for which the Council of Europe provided the plenary presentation.
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01/12/2010
Seminar on ‘Promoting quality culture in higher education institutions on both sides of the river Dniestr/Nistru’


This event was organised within the framework of a set of confidence-building measures in the field of education for the Transnistrian region, which was approved by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 20 January 2010. It took place on 17-18 November 2010 in Odessa. The seminar focused on internal quality development and assurance in higher education institutions, exploring the role of university leadership, academic staff and students in promoting and advancing quality culture. [More]
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14/10/2013

Regional meeting of Ministers of Education on the EHEA implementation to be held in Yerevan
The regional meeting of Ministers of Education on the implementation of the European Higher Education Area will be held in Yerevan under the Armenian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 17-18 October 2013. The meeting is co-organized by the Ministry of Education and Science of Armenia, the Council of Europe and the European Students’ Union. The meeting is open to the delegations of Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Serbia, Romania, Russia and Ukraine.

The meeting will focus on different parts of the Bologna structural higher education reform process, with a particular focus on the self-certification and implementation of national qualifications frameworks and student participation in the higher education governance.
At the end of the meeting a declaration will be adopted.

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06/08/2013
Council of Europe keynote at Conference on Higher Education in Central, Eastern and South East Europe
On July 3, the Council of Europe delivered one of two keynote presentations at the opening of the conference “Neighbours.HigherEducation.Cooperation”, which was organized by the Austrian Academic Exchange Service (OEAD). The conference, which was held in Vienna, gathered some 250 participants and was opened by the Austrian Minister of Science and Research, Professor Karlheinz Töchterle. The keynote addresses on “Development of Higher Education Cooperation with the CEE Region – Why do we need to cooperate?” were given by Dr. Erhard Busek, former Vice Chancellor of Austria and former Minister of Science and Research as well as of Education, and Sjur Bergan, Head of the Council of Europe’s Education Department.
The conference material is now available on line.
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29/04/2013
Education Ministers back pan-European anti-corruption platform

Helsinki, Finland on 26 and 27 April 2013

European Ministers have backed the creation of a Europe-wide platform to tackle corruption and fraud in education and an ethical code for teachers. Meeting at the Council of Europe’s 24th Education Ministers Conference in Helsinki (Finlandia Hall) – 26-27 April – ministers and high-level delegations from 43 European States, as well as Mexico and the European Union, have been discussing ‘Governance and Quality Education’.
The platform and ethical code are part of a five-point plan agreed by Ministers today to ensure access to an education of quality for every pupil and student in Europe and beyond, including Roma and other vulnerable and disadvantaged children.
The platform would provide training, codes of conduct, accreditation and quality assurance and a space to share best practice. (
more)
Press release

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21/12/2012
The Committee of Ministers adopt Recommendation on Quality Education

On December 12, the Committee of Ministers adopted Recommendation Rec(2012)13 on ensuring quality education. The Recommendation and its Explanatory Memorandum outline the Council of Europe’s understanding of quality education, link the concept to the multiple purposes of education and consider the roles and responsibilities of public authorities for ensuring quality education at various levels of education. The texts were prepared by the Steering Committee for Educational Policy and Practice (CDPPE).

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03/07/2012

Confidence-building measures for higher education institutions framework of the programme of confidence-building measures (CBMs) across the river Dniestr/Nistru
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This was the third seminar on confidence-building measures in higher education. Over 40 participants from public authorities in charge of education and eight higher education from both sides of the river Dniestr/Nistru gathered on 26-27 June 2012 in Vienna. The seminar focussed on the issue of student and staff mobility, on the main challenges and opportunities. The question of brain drain and how it can be avoided was also addressed. Academic representatives of higher education institutions debated these and other questions, expressing their views and opinions and exchanging ideas. [more]
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15/06/2012
Council of Europe speaks at the European Humanities University

On June 6 – 7, the Council of Europe spoke at a conference marking the 20th anniversary of the European Humanities University. The Head of the Education Department, Sjur Bergan, gave a keynote on “The European Higher Education Area between Training and Bildung”. The European Humanities University was established in Minsk in 1992 and relocated to Vilnius in 2005 after it was forcibly closed down by the Belarusian authorities.

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17/04/2012
Background documents for the Bologna Ministerial Conference

The Ministerial conference of the European Higher Education Area will be held in Bucharest on 26 – 27 April 2012. Most background documents are now available; including the report by the Working Group on Qualifications Frameworks, chaired by the Council of Europe.

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16/01/2012
Bologna Seminar on Student Participation in Higher Education Governance

On 8-9 December in Aghveran, Armenia, a Bologna Seminar on student participation in higher education governance was co-organised by the Ministry of Education and Science of Armenia, the European Students’ Union and the Council of Europe. The objective of the seminar was to look into topical issues of student participation in higher education governance and quality assurance, from institutional to national and international levels, outlining the main problems and obstacles, looking for examples of good practice and proposing a way forward.

Link to the documents and presentations from the seminar
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09/12/2011
The Council of Europe contributes to publication on the social commitment of universities

GUNI – the Global University Network for Innovation – is just launched its 4th report on the social commitment of universities, entitled Higher Education’s Commitment to Sustainability: from Commitment to Action. The publication includes an article on “Goals and Purposes of Higher Education in Modern, Complex Societies” by the Head of the Council of Europe’s Education Department, Sjur Bergan.
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02/11/2011
Agency for Development of Higher Education and Quality Assurance in Bosnia and Herzegovina (HEA BiH) finalized the legislative framework for accreditation of higher education institutions
 
The Steering Board of the Agency for Development of Higher Education and Quality Assurance of BiH (HEA BiH) on 24 October 2011 give its approval to the Decision on norms setting the minimum standards in higher education, the Rulebook on maintaining the state register of accredited higher education institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Instruction on the assessment of the compliance of the accreditation decision with the minimum standards and criteria for accreditation. With the adoption of these documents, the HEA BiH has completed the legislative framework for accreditation of higher education institutions, which falls under the competence of the Agency. These documents are the result of an intensive work of the Agency which was supported by the joint  European Union/Council of Europe project “Strengthening Higher Education in Bosnia and Herzegovina” 2009-2011, which focused in particular on quality assurance and qualifications frameworks development and drew on international expertise, capacity building and study visits.
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13/10/2011
South East Europe : Development of Qualifications frameworks

The South East European network for Qualifications development held its fourth meeting in Istanbul on 15 and 16 September 2011. 8 countries from the region presented the situation regarding Qualification frameworks. Some countries are in the process of self certification (Romania) or referencing and self certification (Croatia); some just start the process. All material presented during the meeting as well as the reports of the different working groups are available here.
The meeting was evaluated very positively as offering a space of exchanges and common reflection to common challenges.
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28/06/2011
Publication of the European University Association's 2010 Annual Report

The European University Association (EUA) 2010 Annual Report highlights the importance of the formal launch of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) in Vienna/Budapest in March 2010. Nevertheless, it states not only the success of the future is in the hands of universities but at the same time the coming into force of the EU Lisbon Treaty with its Title XIX on European research marked a success for the European Research Area (ERA). Thereby, data provided by more than 800 universities in the Trends 2010 report demonstrated the EUA's role at the centre of the EHEA and the ERA.
Moreover, the EUA 2010 Annual Conference in Palermo entitled “Diversities and Commonalities – the changing face of Europe’s universities” identified the crucial role of university leaders in steering their institutions in difficult times, requiring universities to sharpen their missions and individual profiles in response to growing demands and the continued economic crisis.
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08/06/2011
Seminar ‘Reforms in the higher education system in Ukraine’

On 31 May - 01 June, the Ministry of Education and Science, Youth and Sport of Ukraine and the Council of Europe in cooperation with the European Training Foundation held a seminar in Kyiv on “Reforms in the higher education system in Ukraine in the context of the Bologna process, the NQF for LLL and legislative changes”.
The objective of the seminar was to look into current challenges of the higher education reform process in Ukraine, in particular with regard to the development of a national qualifications framework and the preparation of the Draft Law on Higher Education in Ukraine.
A set of conclusions was adopted at the end of the seminar. [More]
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28/03/2011
Seminar on a national qualifications framework in Ukraine.

On 22-23 March the Ministry of Education and Science, Youth and Sport of Ukraine in co-operation with the Council of Europe held a seminar in Kyiv on ‘Qualifications framework in the higher education system of Ukraine: progress and challenges’.
The objective of the seminar was to share European experiences and to have a discussion on the first draft of a national qualifications framework of Ukraine.
The participants acknowledged the dynamic process of development of a national qualifications framework in Ukraine and considered this seminar as an important step in further advancing this work. A set of conclusions was adopted at the end of the seminar (English and Russian texts).
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15/03/2010
Council of Europe speaks at EURASHE conference

EURASHE – the European Association of Institutions in Higher Education – held its convention on “What has been the impact of the Bologna Process on professional higher education and its institutions?” in Budapest on 9 – 10 March. The convention allowed members to take stock of developments in the Europe Higher Education Area with particular reference to professional higher education. The Council of Europe was the main presenter at a forum aimed particularly at representatives of Central and Eastern Europe countries.

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03/03/2011
Final conference of Council of Europe/European Commission project in Bosnia and Herzegovina



The final conference of the joint Council of Europe/European Commission project “Strengthening Higher Education in Bosnia and Herzegovina” was held in Sarajevo on 3 March and gathered some 130 participants from all parts of the country. The project, which was the third of its kind and was run by Karen Roberts and Nedim Vrabac of the Council of Europe office in Sarajevo, was financed by the European Commission and focused in particular on qualifications frameworks and quality assurance. The Steering Board of the project was chaired by Esma Hadžagić, Assistant to the Minister of Civil Affairs.
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04/02/2011
The Parliamentary Assembly adopts resolution on the situation in Belarus
At its session in late January, the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly adopted Resolution 1790 (2011) on the situation in Belarus in the aftermath of the presidential election. Paragraphs 1, 7.4 and 10.3 deal with the particular situation of higher education, students and staff.
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24/02/2011
Council of Europe speaks at European Student Convention




The Council of Europe was invited to deliver the closing keynote speech at the 21st European Student Convention, organized by the European Students Union in Budapest on 15 – 18 February. In his presentation, Sjur Bergan, Head of the Council of Europe’s Department of Higher Education and History Teaching, emphasized that higher education must play a key role in helping our societies meet the major challenges we are facing. It can only do so if higher education addresses its full range of purposes: preparation for the labour market, preparation for democratic citizenship, personal development and the development of a broad and advanced knowledge base. In particular, higher education must develop competences for democratic citizenship and student representation in the governance of higher education is an important contribution. For the same reason, the Council of Europe always includes student contributions in its thematic conferences on higher education policy.
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Council of Europe Higher Education Series

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[news archive…]

1 organized by the Council of Europe; the US Steering Committee of the International Consortium for Higher Education, Civic Responsibility and Democracy; the University of Oslo, the European Wergeland Centre and the International Association of Universities and supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research.