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Opened by a high-level panel – including Jaume Collboni, Mayor of Barcelona, Joaquim Nadal, Head of the Department for Research and Universities of the Government of Catalonia, Joan Subirats, Minister for Universities in Spain and Margaritis Schinas, Vicepresident for Promoting our European Way of Life at the European Commision – the 2nd forum brought together representatives of the 50 selected European Universities alliances, of the European Commission, member states, various stakeholder organisations, quality assurance and (a few) national agencies for Erasmus+, as well as student organisations, to take stock of developments to date, celebrate the achievements and reflect on the future of the initiative.
Via two main plenaries and eight parallel sessions, the participants explored various overarching aspects of the initiative. One was the remaining overdue reforms at member state level that are necessary to enable alliances to deliver on their wider visions and finally put the Bologna Process key commitments into reality. Another dealt with examples of societal outreach of the initiative and how to further mainstream them, while a third tackled the global dimension of (several) alliances, showcasing a few instances of mutually beneficial cooperation with Ukraine, the Western Balkans and Africa, in particular.
Thematic sessions further shed light on progress made on some key aspects of the initiative, as well as stakeholder views and next steps:
While the focus throughout the two days was on the alliances, many interventions from the panels and the audience underlined the necessity of reforms and transformations to address and benefit the wider higher education ecosystem, and to prevent the formation of a two-tier system.
Following this event, the Spanish Presidency further hosted on 18-19 September in Zaragoza an informal meeting of Education Ministers, which focused on discussing youth participation in democratic life and mental health.