ACA Annual Conference 2006

Destination Europe?
Players, goals and strategies in enhancing
the attractiveness of European universities

Bergen, 18-20 June 2006


The conference addressed the attractiveness of European higher education on a global scale from the perspective of Europe's higher education institutions. Its core questions were whether or not Europe is “the most favoured destination of students, scholars and researchers” which the Lisbon Strategy wants it to become, and what must be done to further consolidate and improve its position as an academic magnet. However, the attractiveness agenda is deeply linked with ‘neighbouring themes’, which the conference also addressed. The most important ones of these are: what is the role of cooperation in the global attractiveness contest, and particularly of solidarity-based educational development aid? What is the status of intra-European cooperation, now that we turn to the wider world: is this agenda over, or is there ongoing business? Are we realistic when we view the non-European world simply as a reservoir of student and scholar migration into Europe, or will some emerging economies not try to do exactly that with Europe?

The following subthemes have structured the programme:

  • Setting the scene: perceptions of Europe and its higher education in non-European countries presented key findings of two recent large-scale ACA studies, on the “perception of European higher education” in other world regions, and on global student flows worldwide (EURODATA).
  • Does Europe exist? Intra-European cooperation and disparity in higher education investigated if there is anything such as the “European university”, and if so, what makes up its “Europeanness”. Does it make sense to talk about an “external dimension” of Bologna, or is it rather a story of eternal expansion? Is cooperation between Europe’s universities not sometimes still an “unfinished task”?
  • Emerging knowledge economies: from sending countries to competitors looked into emerging knowledge economies mainly in Asia. The educational landscapes especially of China and India are quickly changing. This section discussed in what way Europe needs to change the way it sees and deals with these countries - still largely regarded as “sources” of international students - in order not to be left behind.
  • Europe and the South: ways towards a meaningful relationship analysed how a meaningful relationship with institutions from the South can be built, in a way that marketing and attractiveness enhancement in Europe complement partnership and development cooperation.
  • Last but not least, Positioning European universities: diversification and marketing discussed different strategies to position and market European universities successfully in a global context.