Barcelona, 19 November 2020 – The UfM Secretariat organised today a Webinar on how the challenges posed by the acceleration of digital transformation in higher education due to the covid-19 pandemic can be transformed into opportunities for the improvement of the quality and inclusiveness of teaching.
Eight speakers, representing the diversity of stakeholders concerned by the undergoing changes – students, teachers, higher education leaders and policymakers – shared their experiences and their point of view on how the current situation might have an impact in the long run: Kostis Giannidis, President of Erasmus Student Network; Veronica Mobilio, Policy Officer at the European Commission, DG EAC; Biljana Radonjic, Associate at EBRD; Raffaele Trapasso, Economist at the OECD; Cristina Stefanelli, Senior Project Manager at UNIMED; Olfa Zéribi, Director for Western Europe at Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie; Taoufik Ouazzani, Vice-President of Academic and Cultural Affairs of the EuroMed University of Fes; and Mounir Ghribi, Director of International Cooperation and Strategic Partnerships and coordinator of the Blue Growth Initiative at OGS .
The UfM Secretary General, Nasser Kamel, opened the session highlighting the need of revising the regional strategy on higher education: “The main objective of our action at the UfM in the field of higher education and research has been the promotion of youth employability and student mobility. As the last Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference took place a long time ago, in 2007, it is about time to start thinking about a new one. The impact of the covid-19 pandemic makes it more urgent than ever the need for being together again as UfM Member States to define an action plan on higher education, and within it on digitalisation. Higher Education is facing many challenges in the region: digital transformation is certainly one of them, but also one of the answers; many other issues should be discussed, such as women access to higher education and bridging the gender gap in science and technology.”
Participants shared many ideas, such as promoting Internationalization at Home through online tools, enhancing digital skills and competences of students and staff, building partnerships with companies and IT services, or moving beyond emergency solutions through a holistic approach addressing critical issues such as inequalities and the digital divide.
Itaf Ben Abdallah, UfM Senior Advisor for Higher Education and Research, concluded: “Digitalisation is no longer a choice but a necessity, and our mandate at the UfM is to advance regional integration, since disparities exist on this matter between the two shores of the Mediterranean. Today’s work will be the basis for future action on the digital transformation of higher education in the region. In this sense, we would be delighted to receive your comments and proposals for action so that we may move forward together. Besides, digitalisation will not prevent us from working on other topics that are also among our priorities, such as academic mobility and the internationalisation of higher education.”