Brussels, 27 October 2023
The President of Crue Universidades Españolas and Rector of the Universitat Jaume I, Eva Alcón, met this Thursday, 26 October, in Brussels, with representatives of France Universités (FU), the Czech Rectors’ Conference (CRC), the Swedish Association of Higher Education Institutions (SUHF) and the European University Association (EUA), with the aim of strengthening institutional alliances to reach agreements and joint actions on policy priorities for Higher Education in the coming years.
Eva Alcón highlighted the Spanish University System’s commitment to internationalisation and recalled that Spanish universities “stand out in the participation of the European Universities Initiative, with nearly 44 Spanish universities in these alliances”, which makes Spain the third country with the most institutions within European consortia. The president of Crue also pointed out that “lifelong learning and digital transformation as major challenges for the coming years” and expressed her “satisfaction” with a meeting in which “good practices have been shared and the results obtained so far have been evaluated”.
Among the topics discussed, the Ministerial Conference on the European Education Area on 27 May 2024, to be held in Tirana (Albania), under the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, stands out, at which the ministries will agree on actions to continue advancing in the implementation of the Bologna Process and on the political priorities regarding Higher Education for the coming years.
The participants also highlighted the value of the European University Initiative for which the European Commission has just published the fifth call for proposals, the results of which will be announced next summer. The aim is to achieve 60 partnerships involving more than 500 institutions marked in the European Strategy for Universities (ES4U). At the moment, and in view of the next Multiannual Funding Framework as of 2027, the future funding of these partnerships and how to evaluate their results is being discussed.
Lifelong learning and the development of micro-credentials by universities was another of the issues debated by the university representatives, who agreed on the need to request incentives for university institutions to easily adapt their training offer; accelerate the implementation of this new type of studies to position universities as key players and promote the development of consortiums between higher education institutions, public administrations, companies, and trade unions. They also considered the importance of advancing in the digital transformation of universities to improve their integration into the European Higher Education Area.
With regard to the European Research Area (ERA), the President of Crue and her European counterparts exchanged views on the development of academic careers, including the reform of their assessment as a necessary extension of the CoARA initiative for the reform of research assessment. Regarding research infrastructures, which was also discussed as another the ERA priority action, the president reiterated the importance of making progress in this area for Spanish universities and recalled that Crue will collaborate with FU and the Polish Rectors’ Conference (KRASP) to define the implementation of this line of work as part of the development of the EUA agenda.
On Friday 27 October, the president of Crue also attended the meeting of the Council of the European University Association (EUA) in Brussels. At the meeting, among other issues, the first session discussed EUA Research and Innovation Agenda and reviewed the status of the EUA’s Strategic Plan and the UniFE project. The results of the NEWLEAD project, in which Crue has participated as a partner, were also shared, as well as the next steps that the organisation wants to take with regards to leadership.
Eva Alcón wanted to highlight the important path that has been undertaken with the reform of assessment in Europe and highlighted the approval by the Standing Committee of the Coalition for the Advancement of Research Assessment (CoARA) of the proposal for the National Chapter Spain presented by Crue Universidades Españolas, the Spanish National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation (ANECA) and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). “This initiative, approved last July, provides an opportunity to reflect on the research assessment system in Spain and will allow proposals for improvement to be put forward in line with the rest of the international research community so that our research and innovation can continue to improve”.
The Council is composed of the EUA President, the members of the Board and the presidents or designated representatives of the National Rectors’ associations and meets three times a year to discuss and define the association’s priorities and adopt various policy positions and statements.