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Academic education over the last decade. The opening of the European Higher Education Area


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Friday 28th May 2010
Aula Magna "Santa Lucia"
Via Castiglione, 36 - Bologna
Web site: Almalaurea

Higher education in Europe and the Mediterranean area is going through profound changes that reflect both its importance for a sustainable development based on international cooperation and also its delay in meeting the many requirements that arise at different levels of government.

The relaunching of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) at a European and extra-European level towards 2020 is forthcoming. It will stimulate the formation of new networks fostering competition and cooperation in Europe and the Mediterranean area. The European Council held on 25th and 26th March 2010 has set the priority objectives of the "Strategy for jobs and growth": to "improve educational levels, especially aiming at reducing the rates of withdrawal from school and at increasing the share of the population achieving graduation or any equivalent degree. By taking into consideration the proposal of the Commission, the European Council will set the rates of such targets in June 2010." Its completion is represented by the initiative "New Skills for new jobs" of the European Commission, which also represents a connection with the labour market.

Generally speaking, the single European countries still have plenty of room for improvement. The AlmaLaurea meeting will be opened with this issue and a usual in-depth reflection. However, it is necessary that the development of international networks fosters the increase in both the ability of the single countries to hire workforce and in the employment opportunities. This can be obtained through the recognition of the achieved qualifications across borders. In the light of the new scenarios opened by the global crisis, the outcome of the first decade of the Bologna Process and the relaunch of the EHEA risk to remain a phenomenon limited to the European Union. Contrary to this, the coexistence of both internal and external pressures and incentives may encourage a more open, generous and - at the same time - democratic and socially progressive integration of higher education systems. For these reasons the higher education systems of the Euro-Mediterranean and African areas can be a resource. Quality institutions are already numerous and they have a great social value. Even their students can play a leading role within society and promote the development of democracy. This role has a significant value and it helps to realize the narrow-minded vision of those who think that it is useless to invest in an effective university system in the least developed countries, since according to them the priorities of those countries are only literacy and basic schooling. Their presence shows, however, the desire to make up for the great cultural gap, facilitating the creation of a safe framework, without any risk for the mobility of human resources in the Euro-Mediterranean area.

The program of the national AlmaLaurea meeting deals with issues related to assessment of the Italian university system in a comparative perspective and opens the door to this complex reality.

The results of the 12th ALMALAUREA Survey on Graduate’s Profile will be presented during the meeting. The survey involved the 190,000 graduates who completed their studies in 2009 in one of 51 universities taking part since at least one year in the AlmaLaurea Consortium. Over 90% of them completed a post-reform degree course. About 110,000 completed a first-level degree and 60,000 completed a second-level degree (more specifically: 47,000 achieved the two-year second-level degree and 13,000 achieved a single-cycle second level degree). The breakdown of the provided data, which will be made available on the same day of the meeting, makes it possible to offer a full detailed report that includes breakdowns by individual degree course.

As in previous events, after the opening report the analysis of some issues of particular relevance is on the programme. In this context, the changes that have been involving registered students and graduates as a result of the reforms of the last decade will be analysed. Moreover, the demand for training and the study opportunities will also be examined in relation to the educational choices made by students. The transformations of the features of the academic staff and the opinions of both teachers and graduates on the academic experience complete the framework concerning the Italian context, that the discussants of the various sections will compare with the European and international context. The last study to be presented has the task to examine the basis and the significance of internationalization process of academic students and it will be the starting point for a series of congressional initiatives that will be aimed at the international conference on "Human Capital and Employment in the European and Mediterranean area", which is due to March 2011.

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