The American Council on Education (ACE) has launched a global exchange on how to improve outcomes for underserved students through research, policy and the dissemination of good practices. On 2-4 February 2018, ACE invited higher education, policy and business leaders to participate in an international debate on the topic in Washington, DC.
The conference kicked-off a two-year initiative involving eight national or regional systems: Australia, Canada, Colombia, the European Union, Germany, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States. In this context, an EUA delegation comprising EUA Board member Michael Murphy, Institutional Development Director Tia Loukkola and Academic Affairs Director Lewis Purser from the Irish Universities Association represented the European Union.
Participants were encouraged to share lessons learnt, policies and promising practices to improve postsecondary outcomes for underserved students. As participation in tertiary education grows, supporting diverse student populations and making sure they complete their degrees is a challenge faced by all national or regional systems involved in the initiative.
Participants largely agreed that access to financial support, academic readiness and a lack of socio-emotional support are the chief barriers. Europe’s Bologna process was highlighted as a unique and useful example of coordination and systematic exchange across national systems.
This debate echoes several issues currently under discussion in the EUA Learning & Teaching Initiative and allows the EUA to benchmark European debates with those in other countries and regions.
In the coming months, ACE will develop working papers based on cross-cutting issues and a set of case studies exploring specific policies and programs in participating countries. EUA will contribute by sharing its knowledge of good practices and their transferability, ensuring the link between the initiative and its work with its members.