Student Trip to Brussels
In September, the Higher Education master’s program took part in a five-day study trip in Brussels, Belgium. During the week they visited a total of seven offices, six offices within the traditional Higher Education spectrum, and one additional meeting with a new international research group called The Guild.
With some financial help from UiO, the Higher Education class of 2018 cohort had the opportunity to visit Brussels, Belgium. Our trip began September 11th and continued on for another four days. During these 5 beautiful autumn days in Belgium, we were exposed to a number of governmental institutions that are responsible for policies, quality assurance regulations, and an overall ‘looking out’ for Higher Education Institutions in not only Europe, but in other countries around the world. During the week we visited a total of seven offices, six offices within the traditional Higher Education spectrum, and one additional meeting with a new international research group called The Guild.
Days filled with abbreviations
We began our Higher Ed. Brussels tour at the EUA, European University Association office. We met with two members who carefully explained the organization to us, as well as new projects they’re working on. Overall, EUA provides member universities, affecting over 17 million students, opportunities to share best practices by participating in events, projects, and other mutual learning activities. EUA provides members with opportunities to influence and shape European Policy and initiatives which affect higher ed and research.
Our next day included visits to both the European Parliament and the European Commission. The EP visit included a general overview of what all the Parliament does, as well as visit to the official chamber where meetings take place. We then visited the EC, where we heard two dynamic speakers. The first was from Ms. Sarah Lynch, Directorate General for Education and Culture, who spoke to us about Higher Education Policy and Mobility Programmes, and the second speaker was Ms. Irene Sabio Gallego, DG for Education and Culture, and she spoke about Erasmus, Erasmus +, and International Cooperation.
The third and fourth day included visits to EURASHE, EQAR, and ENQA. EQAR and ENQA both deal with Quality Assurance in Higher Education, and we were exposed to the various types of projects these two offices are involved in. EURASHE works with professional education institutions, and our group found this office to be quite interesting.
The Guild, full of opportunities
Our last and final visit was to the research group, The Guild. Still in it’s infancy, The Guild was started in 2016 and is comprised of 19 of Europe’s distinguished research intensive universities in 14 countries, UiO being one of them. It is a group dedicated to “enhancing the voice of academic institutions, their researchers, and their students”. Some of the expert groups coordinated by the Guild are: FP9 Overnight Group, Widening Participation and Structural Funds, Research Support Officers, and Innovation. Groups coordinated by member universities are: Quality Assurance in Research, Brexit, Student careers/Employability, and Education. In addition to engaging with the broader public, The Guild’s goals are to engage with decision makers by the use of policy papers, bilateral meetings, statements and letters, as well as stakeholder panels. As they are a new group, they are looking to expand their office with interns, many of our students found this to be a potentially ideal opportunity!
And of course....
Our trip was not complete without Belgian chocolates, beers, fries, and of course waffles. We had the opportunity to spend a few hours in the city of Bruges, and explored much of the city of Brussels by walking tours and museum visits. Overall it was a fantastic experience, extremely educational and a wonderful way to start our second year of studies!