On November 19th the Ministerial Conference of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) was held in Rome and for the first time in virtual mode.
The Conference was opened by the Minister of University and Research of Italian Republic, Prof. Gaetano Manfredi, and by the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, followed by the participation of the EHEA Ministers and Advisory Members. During the conference, Ministers presented the Rome Communiqué, the key policy orientation document for the next four years of work for the entire European Higher Education Area. Great emphasis was placed on the need to improve the implementation of fundamental values, and not the least to democracy, to help society grow in peace and freedom. In the afternoon were held the speeches of the experts from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the United States of America of the major international organizations operating worldwide in the field of Higher Education in order to promote a global dialogue between the EHEA and the other regions of the world. It has been agreed that the next Ministerial Conference will take place in Albania in 2024.
A delegation of four members participated in the Summit on the part of the Holy See led by the Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, Card. Giuseppe Versaldi, and composed of the competent official of the Dicastery as delegate of BFUG (Bologna Follow Up Group), the President of CRUIPRO (The Rectors Conference of Roman Universities and Pontifical Institutions) and the student representative in the Scientific Council of the AVEPRO Agency (Holy See Agency for the Evaluation and Promotion of the Quality of Ecclesiastical Universities and Faculties).
The Catholic Church confirms its will to continue collaboration and active participation in the realization of historic initiative and collaboration in the European Area of Higher Education. As the Cardinal pointed out in his speech, the inspiring values reaffirmed in the EHEA such as inclusiveness, scientific research, the integrity of education, respect for differences, the search for truth without ideologies, global collaboration, invites us to maintain the bridges of dialogue in the scientific field. The Holy See, in turn, contributes to these purposes through its centuries-old educational work renewed by the Magisterium of Pope Francis, who, precisely in the field of education, has launched the initiative of a Global Educational Pact with which it appeals to all protagonists of education to converge and collaborate in the commitment of an integral formation of each person, eliminating the fragmentation and divisions that still make the duty to give everyone an education corresponding to the dignity of every human creature without any discrimination.
Ministerial Conferences are organized every two or three years to assess the progress made within the European Higher Education Area and to decide on new steps to take. Ministers decide in Ministerial Conferences on the core aspects of the EHEA, including its further developments and commitments by its member countries. The Summit also decides on new applications to join the EHEA and on any other major changes to the process. In fact, the Republic of San Marino applied for membership in August 2019 and was officially accepted in this Ministerial Conference held in Rome on the November 19th, 2020.
A communiqué is adopted at each Ministerial Conference outlining the decisions taken by the Ministers. This year, the Rome Communiqué highlighted the importance - despite the challenges posed by the current pandemic - of international cooperation and mobility. In this context, digital solutions will facilitate secure, efficient and transparent data exchange as well as a more socially inclusive higher education; the current challenges are a stimulus to make the European area innovative with flexible learning paths, open and oriented towards the development of digital skills and competences for all.
The European Area of Higher Education is a unique international experience in the field of higher education, the result of the will of 49 countries after the addition of San Marino, which step by step over the last twenty years, have constituted a common area, through structural reforms and shared tools.
Intervention of the Holy See in the Conference of Ministers of the Process of Bologna 2020, Card. Giuseppe Versaldi (Intervention in Italian, English, French, Spanish and German)