The EU Commission is using education politics and digitization to increase European Integration and move beyond ERASMUS+. Current trends in European Higher Education Policy include the European University Initiative, Micro-Credentials, Virtual Exchange, Internationalization at Home or the Student eCard. We want to show you how these ideas and concepts are interconnected and discuss the pros and cons of the current developements as they can lead to more democracy and more cooperation as well as to more isolation.
As the common notion of an "ever closer union" has failed with Brexit, new ways are considered to increase Europeanization. Although the idea is as old as the Union itself a new concept has taken center stage promising to create greater cohesion within the union: the European University. In November 2017, the European Commission went public with plans to start a so-called "Sorbonne Process" in order to create an EU-wide common educational area (EEA) in which mutual recognition of qualifications, mobility and improvement of language acquisition are tackled in unison. These efforts include the introduction of European University Alliances (EUAs) and a Student eCard. The latter aims to improve the exchange of bureaucratic information between universities in the EU. Other concepts like Micro-credentials, Virtual Exchange and Internationalization at Home have later been added to these new efforts by the Commission. The EUAs have become important testing fields and launch pads for these ideas and student representatives are increasingly worried about their implications for the future of education. But while these new instruments can fundamentally change the nature of higher education, there are also reasons for optimism. From the beginning on some of the EUAs have included democratic student involvement in all their structures. We hope that these early efforts can lead to new forms of student representation, teaching young students democratic cooperation on a European level and helping them represent their interests even better. This talk will introduce you to current trends in European Higher Education Policy with special attention on how digitization is used to further strategic goals of the EU Commission. The implementation of the European Universities will not be without conflict and conflicting positions: Micro-Credentials, European Student eCards and new democratic structures can lead into a benevolent as well as a malign future. Our talk aims to cover all relevant dimensions and offer you the opportunity to discuss with us the problems at hand.