Harmonising Approaches to Professional Higher Education in Europe

Seminar on PHE Otocec (16-17 October 2014)


The Seminar on Building bridges for a more professional higher education is a 2 day event focusing on the mission of professional higher education (PHE). It is intended to inspire institutional management, staff members, the world of work and policy-makers in profiling their institutions and their everyday work.

Throughout Europe a significant number of institutions and programmes recognise themselves in a number of features that are linked to the predicate ‘professional’. PHE however cannot uniformly be defined within similar historical levels and (national) higher education structures, and even not to certain types of institutions and ways of learning. This because the programmes and institution that want to be styled as professional operate within the same triangle of education, knowledge creation (research) and services to the community, as would be expected from any form of higher education in the European landscape (now the European Higher Education Area (EHEA)). The contours of such (European) higher education are universally accepted by the different parties, including stakeholders like students and employers, as defined by the Council of Europe’s ‘four purposes’ of higher education, irrespective of the type and form of higher education.

Professional higher education is often associated with applied research, as opposed to classical universities who focus on basic research, but is characterised through experimental development and (other) services to the community. That becomes apparent with the close relationship between PHE institutions and its stakeholders.

Another feature is the pride of place that is given to the paradigm of ‘learning outcomes’. This is because PHE, and certainly its study programmes are shaped by specific professional goals or needs, in which the contexts of the future professions are clear and the learning outcomes are defined by the professional needs, in terms of integrated competences. A focus on learning outcomes comes naturally to PHE, due to its strong links with the professional world, in different forms of cooperation, via curriculum design and monitoring, work placements and internships, etc.

EURASHE has focused in the past years on the mission of professional higher education, mainly though the HAPHE (Harmonising Approaches to Professional Higher Education in Europe) project. At the very end of the project, EURASHE decided to host this Seminar, based on the outcomes of the organisation’s and project’s work. While developing Profile of Professional Higher Education in Europe, a diversity of approaches has been researched, large amount of stakeholders consulted, bringing us to the final ‘Definition and Characteristics of PHE’. These will serve as a basis for the discussions in Otočec, developing the programme in 3 tracks: Policy and Strategy, Teaching and Learning and Research, Innovation and Development. Throughout the sessions grouped around these core characteristics of PHE, we will gather input from institutional representatives, the world of work and other relevant stakeholders. We will as well welcome speakers from various countries in order to share with participants best practices from both institutional and policy point of view. Involvement of different stakeholders, with a strong position of the world of work in the programme will further stimulate building of bridges between the higher education sector and the world of work, for a more professional higher education.

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Day 1 – Thursday 16 October 2014

10.00 – Registration

10.30 – Opening of the Seminar and Welcome words

  • Johan Cloet, Secretary General of EURASHE (Belgium)
  • Alicia-Leonor Sauli-Miklavčič, Project leader at the Association of Slovene Higher Vocational Colleges (ASHVC) (Slovenia)

11.00 – Keynote speeches

Professional Higher Education in Europe – EURASHE’s perspective and policies

Business perspective to Professional Higher Education

  • Markus Lecke, Head of Education Policy, Deutsche Telekom AG (Germany)

12.30 – Lunch break

14.00 – Plenary session

Overview of trends in Professional Higher Education in Europe

14.30 – Parallel workshop sessions

Policy and Strategy: Overall development of policies for Universities of Applied Sciences and cooperation with the world of work

Teaching and Learning: Meeting characteristics of PHE in teaching and learning on the institutional level

Research, Development and Innovation: Developing the context of research and research agenda in cooperation with the world of work

16.30 – Panel discussion

Building bridges for a more professional higher education

  • Johan Cloet, Secretary General of EURASHE (Belgium)
  • Darinka Vrečko, Ministry of Education, Science and Sport (Slovenia)
  • Ulf-Daniel Ehlers, Vice-President for Quality and Academic Affairs at BadenWürttemberg Cooperative State University (DHBW) (Germany)
  • Markus Lecke, Head of Education Policy, Deutsche Telekom AG (Germany)
  • Jean-Pierre Lacotte, Director of European Public Affairs at Technicolor, Vice-chairman of the Association of French University Institutes of Technology Chairpersons (UNPIUT) (France)
  • Karlo Kolesar, Vice-President of The Croatian Student Council of Universities and University Colleges of Applied Sciences (Croatia)

19.30 – Dinner at Restaurant Grad, Otocec Castle

Day 2 – Friday 17 October 2014

09.30 – Plenary session

The role of Professional Higher Education in Education reforms

  • António Silva Mendes, European Commission, DG Education and Culture, Director for Education and Vocational Training; Coordination of Erasmus+ (European Union)

10.10 – Plenary session

Alliance for Apprenticeships – signing the pledge between EURASHE and European Commission
Awarding the best Slovene student diploma in the academic year 2013 – 2014 by the employers

10.30 – Parallel workshop sessions

Policy and Strategy: Regional cooperation for development of policy and strategy in professional higher education

Teaching and Learning: Development of staff and human resource management in PHE institutions

Research, Development and Innovation: Engaging students into research, development and innovation as well as entrepreneurship

12.30 – Closing remarks

Roadmap for successful harmonisation of professional higher education in Europe

13.00 – End of the Seminar and lunch

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