The new Communiqué takes a step forward in the series of agreements in the framework of the Bologna Process. Twenty years after the launch of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), the Ministers commit to a new vision for 2030, which will be more inclusive, more innovative and more interconnected. In the document, the Ministers also acknowledge the great challenges education is facing today as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On 19th of November 2020, the Ministers responsible for Higher Education of the countries that conform the European Higher Education Area participated in the Rome 2020 Ministerial Conference. Two years after the last conference in Paris 2018, this time round the Conference took place in a virtual format due to the travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the event, the Ministers agreed on the Rome Communiqué, which sets a new vision for 2030 and sets the new priorities until the next Ministerial Conference in 2024, hosted by Albania. Moreover, the Ministers welcomed San Marino as a new member of the EHEA.
The Ministers stated that deeper cooperation between higher education institutions will help to address the renewed objectives through joint teaching and research. In this line, the Communiqué recognizes that the alliances formed under the European Universities Initiative constitute one important way of exploring deeper, larger-scale systemic cooperation, which can prove helpful for detecting and overcoming the obstacles to closer transnational cooperation among higher education institutions in the future.
Dorothy Kelly, Coordinator of the Arqus European University Alliance and Vice-Rector for Internationalisation at the University of Granada, applauds the commitments set out in the Rome Communiqué. Commenting on how the objectives of Arqus are very much aligned with those of the Communiqué, she stressed the importance of the Ministers’ pledge to eliminate obstacles to cooperation at national levels and to enable all higher education institutions in the EHEA to benefit.
The Ministers also adopted a Statement on Academic Freedom, new Principles and Guidelines to Strengthen the Social Dimension of Higher Education in the EHEA and Recommendations to National Authorities for the Enhancement of Higher Education Learning and Teaching in the EHEA.