Former President Mary McAleese has been appointed as the chairperson of the High Level Group on the Modernisation of Higher Education, established by the European Commission as part of the Europe 2020 strategy. The group will be tasked with conducting a comprehensive three year review of higher education across member states. Initially, the focus will be upon how best to achieve quality and excellence in teaching and learning. Further areas will subsequently be considered. Its first report is due in 2013 and it will serve a mandate until 2015.
The Europe 2020 strategy makes knowledge an essential factor in the scheme of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and recognise that higher education institutions have a crucial role to play. The Commission has outlined key targets to be achieved by Member States and higher education institutions including: increasing attainment levels; improving the quality and relevance of higher education; promoting mobility and cross-border cooperation; linking higher education, research and business; and improving governance and funding.
The EU will support the national efforts by monitoring the Europe 2020 strategy and by making sure that its financial framework for 2014-2020 enables the different policies concerned to support the modernisation of higher education. Additionally, the Commission will undertake specific measures to advance educational reform, one of which is the creation of the above group.
The Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn TD welcomed the appointment of Mary McAleese as the chairperson of the High Level Group on the Modernisation of Higher Education acknowledging her relevant past experience as Reid Professor in Trinity College Dublin, Director of the Institute of Professional Legal Studies in Queen’s University, and then as the first female pro-vice chancellor of Queen’s University.
Minister Quinn also welcomes the review itself adding that he looks forward to “seeing how their work can feed into the education reform programme here in Ireland”.
The Group will identify best practices and creative solutions, as well as making recommendations to national and European policy makers, universities and colleges.