The Erasmus+ co-funded Leadership and Organisation for Teaching and Learning at European Universities – LOTUS project (2020-2022) aims to contribute to capacity building and strategic change management for learning and teaching at higher education institutions (HEIs) across Europe, and to demonstrate the potential of various actors (including HEIs, but also ministries, national agencies, university associations, student and staff unions, etc.) to support transformation and innovation in learning and teaching.

The LOTUS final conference, organised by the European University Association in partnership with the LOTUS project consortium, will build upon lessons learnt from the project activities. These activities were conducted under the project’s Leadership Development Programme, which involved individual HEIs in a peer-learning approach, a study report on national developments in learning and teaching in Europe and a series of policy dialogue events that took place in 2022.

Addressing university representatives, European and national policy makers and other stakeholders in higher education, the event will offer a mix of plenary discussions and parallel sessions organised as policy labs, to discuss topics of common interest identified during the project. There will be a specific focus on leadership in learning and teaching, a topic which was explored throughout the project activities.  

On the first day (28 September), the event will see input on the topic of leadership in learning and teaching and space to unpack specific current challenges in learning and teaching:

  1. Adapting the educational offer: to what, to whom, and what does it mean?
  2. Teachers’ world: staff development, academic careers, teaching ecosystem
  3. Inter-institutional collaboration
  4. Digitalisation in learning and teaching

Each of these topics will be addressed in a policy lab. In each policy lab, the participants will be introduced to the lessons learnt through the LOTUS project and will be invited to design key messages on how to support learning and teaching development at institutional, national and European levels. Leadership in teaching will serve as a common thread throughout the policy labs, while the enhancement of learning and teaching will be addressed in terms of collectively finding common ways and values.

On the second day (29 September), each participant will switch to a different policy lab and engage with the key messages designed by fellow participants during the previous day. The event will conclude with a panel providing insights on how the European level or a European approach could take up key messages from the LOTUS policy labs and contribute to the enhancement of learning and teaching.

The outcomes from the LOTUS final conference will feed the LOTUS publication, to be published by November 2022.


The LOTUS final conference is organised around 4 policy labs, to address different aspects of learning and teaching identified throughout the project as areas of common interest and challenge. The aim of each policy lab is to provide a set of key messages on how to support learning and teaching on a given topic.

Take a look at the parallel sessions overview.

Opening plenary session 

Leadership in teaching and policy developments: presentation of lessons learnt from the LOTUS project – by Thérèse Zhang, European University Association (EUA)

Leadership’s role in institutional transformation – by Thomas Estermann and Luisa Bunescu, EUA

Moderated by Oliver Vettori, Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria

Plenary session I

Keynote by Bjrn Stensaker, Vice-Rector for Education, University of Oslo, Norway

Moderated by Thérèse Zhang, EUA

Plenary session III: Panel discussion

Speakers from European policy level discuss key messages from the LOTUS policy labs.

Tine Delva -  DG Education and Culture, European Commission
Ana Tecilazić, co-chair, BFUG Working Group on Learning and Teaching
Horia Onița, Vice-President, European Students’ Union (ESU)
Leonardo Ebner, Coordinator for Social dialogue, Economic Policy & Governance, ETUCE

Moderated by Michael Gaebel, EUA


Parallel session I: Policy labs
Short topic-based input presentation, Discussing and designing key messages on how to support learning and teaching development at institutional, national and European levels

Policy Lab 1_Adapting the educational offer: to what, to whom, and what does it mean?
Co-facilitators: Ruben Janssens, European Students’ Union (ESU), and Nora Jansone-Ratinika, Riga Stradiņš University, Latvia
Related to this policy lab, you can also consult:
Student-centred learning and teaching_ the essentials_recording
Student centrered learning and teaching

Policy Lab 2_Teachers world: staff development, academic careers, teaching ecosystem
Co-facilitators: Thérèse Zhang, EUA, and Philippe Lalle, Bologna Follow-up Group
(BFUG) Working Group on Learning and Teaching

Policy Lab 3_Inter-institutional collaboration
Co-facilitators: Sharon Flynn, Irish Universities Association (IUA) and Michal Karpisek, E³UDRES²

Policy Lab 4. Digitalisation in learning and teaching
Co-facilitators: Michael Gaebel, EUA, and Oliver Vettori, Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria

  • Thérèse Zhang

    Thérèse Zhang is Deputy Director for Higher Education Policy at the European University Association. In this capacity, she contributes to develop EUA’s work in areas such as learning and teaching in higher education, lifelong learning, global relations with other regions of the world and European policy making in higher education at large. Thérèse has been active in higher education policy/management and, more generally, project management in education and culture, for over fifteen years. Her experience covers activities in the field of quality management, institutional development, evaluation methodologies and pedagogy.
    Thérèse holds a doctorate in Romance Philology and a Master’s degree in European Studies from the Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium. She completed part of her education at the University of Bologna, Italy, and at Brown University, United States.

  • Thomas Estermann

    Thomas Estermann is Director for Governance, Funding and Public Policy Development with responsibilities for EUA’s work aimed at strengthening universities’ autonomy, governance, management and financial sustainability. Before joining EUA in 2007, Thomas was Deputy Head of Strategic Development and Deputy University Director at the University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna, a member of the universities' senate and involved in the last two reforms in higher education in Austria. Before entering the university sector in 1997, he pursued a career as a lawyer. Thomas is member of several European and national committees, expert groups, editorial boards, advisory groups and contributes on a regular basis to higher education management programmes and national higher education reform processes. He has published on the topic of university funding, governance and management. He holds a Master’s degree in law from the University of Vienna.

  • Luisa Bunescu

    Luisa Bunescu is Policy Analyst in the EUA Governance, Funding and Public Policy Development Unit. She joined the Association in 2016, initially as Policy and Project Officer in the Higher Education Policy Unit. Previously, she worked as a Research Assistant in Macroeconomics at the Berlin School of Economics and Law and as Assistant to the Director at the Centre International de Formation Européenne (CIFE) in Nice, France. She was also a trainee at the European Commission in Brussels where she dealt with international capacity building projects in higher education. She holds an M.A. in Political Economy from the Berlin School of Economics and Law, as well as one in European Studies and International Relations from CIFE in France.

  • Oliver Vettori

    Dr. Oliver Vettori is Dean for Accreditation and Quality Management and Director of the Department for Program Management and Teaching & Learning Support at Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU). He is responsible for WU’s international accreditations, managing WU’s program portfolio and central teaching and learning policies and processes. As an expert in quality assurance and higher education development he has worked in 50+ countries over the past decade, namely for EUA, ENQA, ESU, UNESCO, EU-SHARE and various international higher education agencies and institutions. Oliver teaches courses on public management, research methodology, organizational behaviour and evaluation theory. As a research associate at the Institute for Organization Studies (WU), he has authored numerous publications in the field of organization theory and culture, quality assurance, teaching & learning and curriculum development. He is involved in various European projects (e.g. ERASMUS+, HORIZON2020) and currently coordinates the teaching and learning efforts of the ENGAGE.EU alliance.

  • Bjørn Stensaker

    Dr. Bjørn Stensaker is Professor of higher education and currently Vice-rector of the University of Oslo. Bjørn has a special research interest in the areas of governance, policy reform and organisational change in higher education - especially related to quality assurance and quality improvement. He has written extensively on these issues in a range of international journals and books. Recent publications include: Elken, M. & Stensaker, B. (2022) Bounded innovation or agency drift? Developments in European higher education quality assurance. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education.

  • Ruben Janssens

    Ruben Janssens an advocate for students’ interests in higher education policy concerning the quality of education, especially regarding learning & teaching, digitalisation, and mental health. He was a Belgian member of the Executive Committee of the European Students’ Union from January 2021 until June 2022. In this capacity, he was involved in the LOTUS project as a consortium member and facilitator of two Leadership Working Groups. He has also represented ESU in the BFUG Working Group on Learning and Teaching and was a member of the EUA Learning & Teaching Steering Committee. Earlier, he was a student representative at institutional and regional level. Ruben is a doctoral researcher in Human-Robot Interaction at Ghent University in Belgium, having graduated with a Master’s degree in Computer Science Engineering from the same institution in 2021.

  • Nora Jansone-Ratinika

    Dr. Nora Jansone-Ratinika is Associate Professor at Rīga Stradiņš University and Director of its Centre for Educational Growth. For over fifteen years, she has worked to enhance learning-rich higher education with an interest and commitment to pedagogy across continuing education for academic staff, analysis and strengthening of quality and support for learning and teaching innovation. Her research interests cover technology-enhanced L&T innovations, quality assurance, pedagogical competence of academic staff and student learning experience.

  • Philippe Lalle

    Philippe Lalle is Professor of molecular biology at Claude Bernard University Lyon 11, where he is responsible for the first year of the Master’s programme in biochemistry and molecular biology. From 2007 to 2016, he was vice-rector of this university, in charge of training and student life. From 2016 to 2021, he was strategic advisor for pedagogy at the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation. In this capacity, he supervised the drafting of the teachers' professional reference system and initiated several new regulations such as the obligation of pedagogical training for new teachers. Since June 2021, he has been in charge of monitoring training projects funded under major state investment programs within the National Research Agency. He has been co-chair of the BFUG Learning and Teaching group since 2018.

  • Sharon Flynn

    Dr Sharon Flynn is Project Manager for the Enhancing Digital Teaching and Learning (EDTL) project at the Irish Universities Association (IUA). She works closely with senior academic leaders, team leads and student interns across the university sector in Ireland to enhance the digital confidence, skills and competences of those who teach in Irish universities, and to develop the digital skills of Irish university students. In the last year, Sharon has facilitated a LOTUS Leadership Working Group (LWG), considering leadership issues around student-centred learning and evidence-based approaches to learning and teaching, particularly in a post-pandemic environment. Prior to joining the IUA, Sharon was Assistant Director at the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

  • Michal Karpíšek

    Michal Karpíšek is Senior Policy Expert at the University of Applied Sciences in St. Pölten, Austria. In this tole he works for the E3UDRES2 European university alliance which focuses on the development of non-urban regional ecosystems, their skills and innovation needs. Previously, Michal served for 5 years as Secretary General of EURASHE, representing the organisation within various European policy and stakeholder fora. Until 2016 Michal acted as an Executive Officer of the Czech Association of Schools of Professional Higher Education (CASPHE). He served twice as an advisor to Czech ministers of education (2001-03, 2010-11) or their deputies for higher education. He has experience in international projects and consulting including educational reforms in Central Europe and Central Asia. Michal graduated from Czech Technical University in Prague (1989) and Cranfield University (2004).

  • Michael Gaebel

    Michael Gaebel is Director of the Higher Education Policy Unit at the European University Association. He has served in this role since 2009, having joined EUA in 2006 to lead its work on global dialogue and internationalisation. As such, Michael oversees EUA’s work on issues related to higher education learning and teaching, including the Bologna Process, lifelong learning, e-learning and MOOCs, internationalisation and global dialogue. Previously, he worked for more than a decade in higher education cooperation and development in the Middle East, the former Soviet Union and Asia. From 2002 to 2006, he was the European Co-Director of the ASEAN-EU University Network Programme (AUNP) in Bangkok.

  • Ana Tecilazić

    Ana Tecilazić is Secretary General of Algebra University College, Zagreb, Croatia, Secretary General of the Croatian Council of Polytechnics and Colleges and a member of the Board of EURASHE. She currently co-chairs the BFUG WG on Learning and Teaching where she is responsible for the topic of student-centred learning approach. Ana’s academic background encompasses the fields of philosophy, languages, interdisciplinary European studies and educational policy. Her professional experience has been shaped by working on policy developments in higher education in the Croatian Ministry of Science and Education. She has built her expertise in developing policies at national and at European level in the area of higher education and lifelong learning, employability, quality assurance, recognition of educational and professional qualifications, performance-based funding of higher education, qualifications frameworks, validation of prior learning, European affairs and the internationalisation of higher education.

  • Horia Onita

    Horia Onița is Vice President of the European Students’ Union, a role in which she coordinates the Quality Assurance of Higher Education cluster, represents ESU as co-chair of the Bologna Follow-Up Group (BFUG) Working Group on Social Dimensio, and follows EU developments on education funding and monitoring through National Recovery and Resilience Plans and the European Semester.
    He has been involved in the student movement for over eight years, serving as president of the National Alliance of Student Organisations in Romania (ANOSR) and coordinating portfolios such as Quality Assurance (being member of the National QA Agency Board for two years) and Bologna Process Implementation in Romania.

  • Leonardo Ebner

    Leonardo Ebner is Coordinator for social dialogue, economic policy and governance at the European Trade Union Committee for Education. ETUCE is a federation of 127 education trade unions in 51 countries, representing in total 11 million members all over Europe. Leonardo holds MAs in European studies (College of Europe), international relations (University of Bologna), and philosophy (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice). Previously he worked as policy adviser on employment and public services at the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) and at the European Commission’s DG Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion.

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