Recognition of higher education qualifications: experts gathered in Barcelona by the EMUNI University and the UfM Secretariat outline possible ways forward
- The Euro-Mediterranean University (EMUNI) and the Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) organised a joint conference on the state of play and challenges ahead for enhancing the recognition of higher education qualifications across the region.
- Decision-makers, among whom H.E. Jernej Pikalo, Minister of Education, Science and Sport of Slovenia, practitioners and experts who took part to the conference formulated recommendations which will feed into the work of the upcoming meeting of the UfM regional platform on higher education internationalisation and academic mobility.
- The UfM Secretariat and the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to initiate cooperation notably in the field of student mobility.
Barcelona, 12 April 2019. The Euro-Mediterranean University (EMUNI) and the Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) held together the conference “Recognition of higher education qualifications: Where does the Euro-Mediterranean region stand?” at the headquarters of the UfM Secretariat in Barcelona on 12 April.
At a time of growing demand and supply of international higher education, participants in the conference agreed that the recognition and portability of academic qualifications across borders have never been so crucial for promoting and facilitating the mobility of students, academics and workers, expanding employability and lifelong learning opportunities for all, strengthening cross-border cooperation and deepening regional integration processes.
According to OECD data, the number of international students is estimated at more than 5 million, an increase of 67% since 2005. Yet, like in other regions of the world, the diversity of higher education systems amongst Southern Mediterranean countries and between Southern and Northern Mediterranean countries has resulted in a lack of common practices and mechanisms for the recognition of skills and qualifications acquired abroad.
“Through the UfM regional cooperation framework, we have created Euro-Mediterranean Universities to educate a new generation of young people with a unique Euro-Mediterranean vision. With over 30 million people enrolled as students in the region, we also need to jointly work towards facilitating cross-border academic mobility opportunities to generate enough momentum to establishing a shared Euro-Mediterranean mindset and identity among our students” underlined UfM Secretary General Nasser Kamel in his welcome address.
The conference provided a platform for fruitful dialogue amongst decision-makers, university rectors – including the president of EMUNI, Prof. Abdelhamid El-Zoheiry, and the president of the EuroMed University of Fes, Prof. Mostapha Bousmina, as well as experts and representatives from the UNESCO, national authorities and competent national bodies in the fields of quality assurance and recognition of international qualifications, universities’ and students’ regional networks, private sector and civil society organisations from both rims of the Mediterranean.
“We are more and more moving into the integration of higher education in Europe, we should do something similar in the Mediterranean. How to do that? It is all about trust, quality and mutual recognition” emphasized H.E. Jernej Pikalo, Minister of Education, Science and Sport of Slovenia. The first panel dedicated to “the vision of a Euro-Mediterranean Higher Education and Research area” counted also, among others, with the presence of H.E. Mr. Abdalrahim Alfarra, Ambassador of Palestine to the European Union, Belgium and Luxembourg and Prof. Amr Ezzat Salama, secretary general of the Association of Arab Universities, who advocated for the creation of an Arab regional qualifications framework.
Throughout the day participants shared best practice and pointed out the need for a coordinated use of top-down and bottom-up approaches to make concrete progress towards enhanced recognition of higher education qualifications in the Euro-Mediterranean region.
The UfM Secretariat will now broadly disseminate the policy and operational recommendations formulated during the conference. They will notably feed into the work of the upcoming meeting of theUfM regional platform on higher education internationalisation and academic mobility in the Euro-Mediterranean area to be convened on 10 October during the first edition of the UfM Academic Mobility Week.
This conference was also the opportunity to sign a bilateral memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the UfM Secretariat and the Erasmus Student Network (ESN), in the presence of its President Mr. João Mourato Pinto.
“The partnership with the UfM represents the beginning of a new phase in ESN’s institutional relationships. As Erasmus+ and other exchanges increase in importance, more students will need ESN’s support and vision for society. This partnership is designed not only to start catering more for these needs, instigating more exchanges of students, but also to increase the connections between two regions bridged by the Mediterranean Sea”, declared at that occasion the ESN President.