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Highlights of What’s new in Brussels? 2022

The 2022 edition of ACA’s flagship seminar – What’s new in Brussels? Recent Developments in European Policies and Programmes – took place on 3-4 February in hybrid mode, with most speakers present on-site in a studio in Brussels. This event marks the start of every year for the association since 2004 with a stocktaking exercise on the Brussels ‘talk’ and ‘walk’ in higher education, welcoming speakers from the European Commission, stakeholder organisations and the voice of the sector, for inspiration and for a thorough reality check.  

This year’s programme started with a focus on the recently launched European Strategy for Universities (ES4U), which was largely welcomed by the sector, while several proposals were aired on how to enhance the global dimension of the strategy, what to take on as good practice from the national level developments, and how to bring the strategy closer to the realities of European higher education institutions. 

The speakers also zoomed into the European Universities Initiative, reflecting on the progress, opportunities and challenges related to implementation, with updates on the full roll-out of the initiative and the current call for proposals. Expectations were further set on the mid-term review of the initiative, with panelists cautioning that an evaluation focused on outputs and outcomes is the only feasible option at this point in time, with a full impact assessment possible only at a much later stage in the implementation of the initiative.  

Updates were also provided on the development of the European Degree and plans for the European legal statute, two of the four flagships of the ES4U, and the related pilot call foreseen for 2022. The set-up of the European Degree is currently planned by the European Commission as a gradual, three-stage process, debuting with the creation of a of European Degree label for joint programmes, followed by work with Member States to further develop the European Degree into a qualification, foreseeing in a third step the integration and implementation of this qualification into national legislation. Stakeholders present at the event emphasized the need to continue the stakeholder dialogue and to clarify the remaining questions around the meaning and feasibility of the European Degree.   

The event also provided updates on the work with micro-credentials, shared the novelties on the three key actions of the Erasmus+ programme, with particular emphasis on blended mobility formats and the bulk of the international dimension of the programme, for which the first calls were now officially launched. 

Listen to the event’s main takeaways, as summarized by ACA’s President, Ulrich Grothus, in the event’s closing session.