Fields of Activities
|Calendar of Activities|
|Higher Education ForA|
|European Higher Education Area|
The Bologna Process
Council of Europe Contribution
Bilateral and regional activities
|Recognition of Qualifications|
of Europe/UNESCO Convention
The ENIC/NARIC Network
|Results of prior activities|
Sites of Citizenship
Legislative Reform Programmes
|Resources / Documents|
|Higher Education Series|
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lisbon Convention: How to Check Ratifications and Signatures
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.
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.
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.
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]
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A new website will help people wanting to work or study abroad to have their qualifications recognised.
The website – http://www.enic-naric.net – provides comprehensive information explaining how to have qualifications recognised in 55 countries, covering Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand. It also provides information for employers and higher education institutions.
A joint initiative of the Council of Europe, European Commission and UNESCO; developed by the Italian information centre, the site will facilitate the mobility of students and graduates of all ages. It was launched at the 21st annual meeting of the ENIC NARIC* networks last week in Rome.
The Council of Europe/UNESCO Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region, known as the ‘Lisbon Convention’, aims to ensure qualifications gained in one signatory country are recognised by the others. It prohibits discrimination in the recognition of qualifications and requires national information centres to be established and maintained.
*The European Network of Information Centres in the European Region and the National Academic Recognition Information Centres in the European Union.
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.
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).
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]
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.
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.
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
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.
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”.
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.
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.