During the month of March, three important consultations on the European level took place with the attendance of AEC:

AEC and partners meet with EU DG EAC to promote STEAM

Already in 2018 AEC and its partners ELIA, European Music Council and Culture Action Europe were in dialogue with the EU Directorate General for Education and Culture at the European Commission about the importance of including the arts to the skills required for the 21st century. In an open letter to the Commission, we wrote:

“The importance of adding the A — representing the arts — to the skills required for the 21st century is widely acknowledged. The World Economic Forum identified creativity as the third most valuable skill of the future and recommended changing curricula radically to focus learning on creative subjects. To us, creativity is unthinkable without the arts.”

In connection with several EU Horizon calls in the spring of 2023 we could state that the STEAM concept had been watered down in a way that neglected the value of artistic contribution to the education system. Thus, a comprehensive joint position paper was submitted to the Commission, among others stating that:

”By choosing to reinterpret the STEAM (Science Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) concept almost exclusively as a means to bridge the gender gap within the STEM fields, this framing undermines the original raison d’être of STEAM — its inherent potential to promote creativity and innovation.”

Fortunately, this led to the exchange of several letters between the Commission and our consortium, and finally at the beginning of March, we were invited to an online consultation not only with the responsible unit at the Directorate General, Policy Strategy and Evaluation, but also the units responsible for education and culture. The meeting took place on 21st March and was indeed a positive experience, where our initial STEM-STEAM agenda was acknowledged, but also extended to other themes beyond and all parties identified broader avenues for culture-education-research cooperation.

Next steps will be participating in the formal feedback opportunity included in the Work Programme 2025 which will expectedly be launched in April this year.

European Education Package

On the 8th of March the European Higher Education Stakeholder Group, which consists of European Alliances and Networks within Higher Education was invited to a presentation of a package of new initiatives by the European Union including

  • a Commission Communication on a Blueprint for a European Degree,
  • a proposal for a Council recommendation on improved quality assurance processes and automatic recognition of qualifications in higher education and
  • a proposal for a Council recommendation to make academic careers more attractive and sustainable.

The package which aims to advance transnational cooperation between higher education institutions. was adopted by the EU Commission on 27 March.

The three initiatives tackle the remaining legal and administrative barriers to partner institutions setting up competitive joint degree programmes at Bachelor, Master or Doctoral levels, without impinging on institutional autonomy, academic/artistic freedom or Member States’ remit of power.

You can find more information about the Higher Education Package here and AEC will of course be following the unpacking and implementation of the initiatives closely to ensure maximum influence on behalf of the membership. 

Council of Europe promotes Automatic Recognition of Degrees

On 15th of March representatives from the Higher Education Area within the member states of Council of Europe were invited to join an online consultation organised in cooperation with the European University Association (EUA) and the European Association for Professional Higher Education (EURASHE). AEC participated in the event. 

The topic of the consultation was the project of Automatic Recognition, that the Council of Europe is currently running as part of its Education Strategy 2024-2030 with the title: Learners first.The main focus of the strategy falls into three areas: Renewing the Democratic & Civic Mission of Education, Enhancing the Social Responsibility & Responsiveness of the Education, and Advancing Education through a Human-Based Digital Transformation.

The Council of Europe (CoE) should not be confused with the two EU institutions: The European Council and the Council of the European Union. The CoE is an international organisation with the goal of upholding human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe. It was founded in 1949 and has its seat in Strasbourg. 46 states across Europe are members of CoE with a total population of approximately 700 million people.

The long-term vision of the Council of Europe’s Education Strategy is that all learners will be able to fully exercise their rights as active citizens in European democratic societies. This long-term vision will be achieved in cooperation with the Member States through a programme whose main mission is to improve the quality and accessibility of education in order to enhance the acquisition of knowledge and competencies and ensure equal opportunities for all learners.

The concept of Automatic Recognition aims at reducing barriers to building a transnational and coherent educational system in Europe. Barriers are often created as national legislation introduces special requirements on top of the qualification framework of the Bologna system. Within Higher Music Education the AEC has contributed to solutions to promoting mobility by introducing the EASY Mobility Online.