The AURORA universities network supports the development of a strong vision on the European Education Area, interconnected with the European Research Area. Although the roadmap points out the way to get a new EEA, it less specifically describes the goals and expected achievements Europe needs. In order to improve the text, including vision, goals and achievements or deliverables, we addressed some aspects.
In brief, the roadmap mainly focuses on training and skills/competencies (esp. on skills for digitalisation and green transition). We recommend adding aspects of “education” i.e. on citizenship, critical thinking, democracy and political polarisation, individual prosperity and growth, and wellbeing. In return, this will benefit from mentioning a strong vision on the connection between education, training and research and will be referring to EU-level flagship actions. More specifically, it will benefit from mentioning the strategic contribution of the European University alliances to both EEA and ERA. Currently, it does not specify how an all-inclusive, meaningful, structured and sustained engagement of stakeholders will be achieved apart from “targeted consultation”. As with the research agenda setting the development, implementation, execution and evaluation of a new EEA need proper co-creation and co-design in all phases with all stakeholders to fulfil all ambitions through broadly supported and effective EEA strategies.
As a university network, Aurora published its position paper on the EEA and ERA. We still emphasize that:
- The EEA needs strong European and national funding to fulfil its ambitions;
- Both EEA and ERA are open to the world beyond the EU fostering all dimensions of knowledge;
- SDGs must be the guiding themes and compass for both EEA and ERA to engage (younger) people and contribute to the solutions;
- EEA and ERA need to develop and strengthen the European identity, values, standards of education and research to complement existing identities, values and standards;
- EEA and ERA need to be developed at national and institutional levels – and supported by champions at all these levels.
The higher education and research sector contribute to this. Therefore, AURORA recommends and supports:
- A meaningful international experience as a component of all study and learning paths rather than an obligation of learning abroad as such;
- The acceptance of (subject-specific, general academic, personal) competences for the purpose of work, study and civil life regardless of the place where or the mode through which these competencies were acquired, rather than just qualifications recognised across the EU;
- The matching principle of academic excellence with societal relevance in education, research and outreach to society, which is core to our vision;
- A clear vision on the role of European University alliances in the establishment and achievement of an interconnected EEA and ERA from which the full European higher education sector should benefit.