Higher education package

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Opinjoni tal-KESE: Higher education package

Key points

 

The EESC:

  • points at the important role played by higher education institutions (HEI) in improving green skills acquisition, environmental responsibility and sustainable development and welcomes in this regard the Commission's intention to help Member States and HEI develop national and whole-institutional approaches to sustainability, climate and environmental literacy;
  • calls on Member States and HEI to improve the quality, fairness, equality and social inclusion of higher education and research when setting up digitalisation strategies; furthermore, it calls on the Commission to engage with students and academics when developing education and training programmes on digital skills within the Digital Europe Programme;
  • welcomes that the initiative encourages Member States and HEI to strengthen transnational cooperation to improve students' skills and competences for the twin transitions of the labour market and economy and to uphold the EU's values, identity and democracy;
  • calls for a more effective involvement of learners, academics and researchers in the governance of higher education policy and institutional, transnational cooperation structures, to ensure good quality and inclusive higher education and research, effective mobility of students, staff and researchers, and full diversity;
  • emphasises the importance of effective partnerships between HEI and companies, in order to meet the skills needs of students, society and the labour market, and to ensure students' access to high quality and paid apprenticeships and traineeships in companies and institutions;
  • highlights that the Commission and all Member States must protect academic freedom and institutional autonomy as fundamental values; welcomes the establishment of guiding principles protecting fundamental academic values, based on the Rome Communiqué, with the involvement of the relevant social partners and stakeholders;
  • draws attention to the essential value of diversity of HEI, which can support various cultural, educational, societal and economic needs; regrets however that notwithstanding their increased needs during the pandemic, HEI are underfunded, calling on the Member States to increase public funding for them;
  • welcomes the establishment of a European Higher Education Sector Observatory to bring the best current EU data tools and capacities together and the further development of the European Student Card initiative; calls for transparent and fair recognition of third-country qualifications, including those held by refugees, through the network of academic recognition centres;
  • calls for the involvement of social partners in the field of education and civil society organisations in developing European criteria for awarding a European Degree label and to ensure social dialogue with academic trade unions in the development of a European framework for attractive and sustainable careers in higher education.