Communication and Education in Knowledge Society


Format: two-day hybrid conference hosted by the West University of Timisoara
Organisers: West University of Timisoara, Faculty of Sociology and Psychology, Department of Educational Sciences and Faculty of Political Science, Philosophy and Communication
The event takes place under the auspices of FOR EU 1 & 2 through the University Alliances UNITA and CIVIS, with the participation of the European University Association (EUA), the French Embassy in Romania, and the Presidential Administration of Romania.
Timing: 5-6 May 2022

This event intends to continue the discussions already launched at the European level and identify new directions for action. Thus, the key concept of the conference is based on the following questions:

• What does the future of education bring for a new European higher education landscape and how can current initiatives prepare for this future?
• What are the main challenges and how can they be tackled by higher education institutions, national stakeholders, and academics?
• How can we ensure a smooth transition between current and future structural and conceptual approaches for higher education?
• How can existing structures and experiences support and enhance future developments, in relation with academic degrees, doctoral education, scientific networking, and university cooperation?
• How can new tools, such as joint programmes, micro-credentials, and digitally enhanced mobility, be used in order to better cater to the changing needs of students, academics and institutions?
• How can we build new governance models for higher education innovation, what are the main stakeholders and what types of structural changes can they generate for the future?

The European Higher Education landscape is facing numerous changes, both at structural and procedural levels, linked with new interconnected regional projects, such as the European Universities Initiative, but also at the grassroot level, based on pedagogical innovation, new approaches for curricular design and structure, emphasizing universities’ role as social actors that tackle societal needs in new and challenging ways. Nevertheless, current developments are in need for a clear set of principles for how the future of higher education can be brought closer, repositioning universities at the forefront of change and society modernization. Developing a future European higher education landscape must not be regarded as something new, distinct from all recent evolutions, but more like a process of consolidation of the lessons learned until now and a reorientation towards a more competitive global educational market, in which European universities must become more and more present. With the world preparing itself for the post-COVID educational context, the European universities’ role in innovating education and training is constantly evolving, revealing new educational sceneries through modern and flexible learning pathways.
For this visionary endeavour, stakeholders, academics, and university coordinators altogether must make use of the various tools that can create a new transnational educational environment, such as modern and flexible curricular reshapes, modularisation, short-term learning, digitally enhanced (virtual) mobility, and micro-credentials. Developing an attractive flexible educational offer, universities can reposition themselves as main shapeshifters for societal challenges, addressing the learners’ need for more flexible, individualised and job-linked learning pathways.
During the past years, the pace of change in higher education teaching and learning has been strongly speeded-up by the societal dynamics and changes, and digitalisation, innovative pedagogical approaches, equal access to opportunities, inclusion and learning mobility / portability have become the major conceptual and structural areas of interest for developing new educational opportunities in an international landscape. Major projects such as the European Universities Initiative and the new objectives of the European Higher Education Area, the European Student Card Iniative, the new Erasmus+ Charter for universities, and the new European Strategy for Universities are refining innovative ways for transforming the European higher education, from a traditional rigid structure, to a more agile and modern identity, at European scale, on a global market, through European Degrees and automatic recognition of learning. Embedding different innovative components, such as micro-credentials, digitally enhanced mobilities, learning portability and digital credentials, flexible curricula and modularisation of learning, European Degrees become not just innovative products of the future of education, but can play the role of key levers for achieving real transformations and building up new fully recognisable and portable learning pathways models in higher education.