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As discussions are underway at the European Learning & Teaching Forum, EUA’s Tia Loukkola gives an overview of the extensive work taking place in the field, including reports, lessons learnt by EUA members and what the Bologna Process can bring to the field.

For the past twenty years, the Bologna Process has provided a framework for European collaboration in higher education by promoting common degree structures and approaches to quality assurance, recognition and credit allocations, among others. The Paris Ministerial Communiqué published last May identifies “cooperation in innovative learning and teaching practices as another hallmark of the EHEA”. Later this month, an advisory group on learning and teaching set up by the Bologna Follow-up Group will start its work to explore how the Process can take this commitment forward.

This week’s European Learning & Teaching Forum organised by EUA and hosted by the University of Warsaw in Poland will discuss this and many other topics showcasing the existing practices and work done by the sector thus far.

Importantly, EUA’s Trends 2018 study found that there is an increased level of attention paid to learning and teaching both at national and institutional levels and that there is strong convergence in this development across Europe. The work of EUA’s Learning & Teaching Thematic Peer Groups confirm these two findings.

The evidence gathered though these activities shows that universities are adopting a strategic and institution-wide approach to developing learning and teaching, setting up structures that aim to provide support to staff to develop their competences. Measures towards student-centred learning are being introduced and growing attention is being paid to both quality of learning process as well as learning outcomes. The thematic peer group reports that will serve as a backdrop for some workshops in the Forum and several papers that will be presented during the break-out sessions will bare evidence of these developments.

At the same time, another EUA report from last December shows that many countries in Europe have set up national initiatives aiming to encourage, incentive and support higher education institutions to engage in this line of work. The study found that these national initiatives can indeed play an important role in promoting teaching enhancement, but that in the majority of cases the institutional initiatives remain most effective.

With all this already ongoing, what kind of added value can European level activities bring? First, feedback from universities participating in various EUA learning and teaching activities in recent years shows that participants have found the exchange of experiences and practices across the systems to be rewarding and thought-provoking and have been encouraged to explore new practices also in their own universities.

Second, the feasibility study on how teaching enhancement can be promoted in the most efficient manner at the European level, launched at the Forum, stresses that the European approaches have the potential to “seek to synergise and collaborate with already existing national and institutional initiatives, facilitating exchange and collaboration among them.” The study further notes the value they have for institutions and teachers in countries that have no national initiatives.

In the field of learning and teaching, universities have taken the lead in developing a European dimension. EUA looks forward to playing an active role in ensuring the additional value that the Bologna Process can bring to the debate. This will go hand-in-hand with the lessons learnt by our members and the discussions taking place at what is now the second edition of the European Learning & Teaching Forum.


Tia Loukkola
European University Association

Tia Loukkola was formerly Director of Institutional Development and Deputy Secretary General at the European University Association. She was in charge of a variety of EUA’s activities dealing with improving and monitoring the quality of universities and their educational mission, as well as specific topics including quality assurance, recognition, rankings and learning and teaching.

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