The SMARTT project team presented, in an event organized by the University of Bucharest, the first results of the future European Diplomas. The conference took place on Tuesday 5 September 2023 and brought together senior officials from EU Member States and the European Commission.
The project Screening, Mapping, Analyzing, Recommending, Transferring and Transforming higher education international programs – SMARTT is developed by the European Civic University Alliance CIVIS in partnership with the European University Alliances EUTOPIA, NEUROTECHEU and UNITA, together with higher education institutions and European and national stakeholders. The project was chosen by the European Commission as a pilot project for future European Diplomas. The “European Diploma” label is a certificate of excellence attached to the qualification of students graduating from joint study programs carried out through the cooperation of several higher education institutions, based on a set of criteria co-created at European level.
In the opening of the event that is part of the European higher education calendar, as part of the strategic efforts coordinated by the European Commission and the member states, prof. Romiță Iucu, PhD, president of the Strategic Orientation and Analysis Council of the University of Bucharest, who moderated the meeting, emphasized the fact that “UB is very grateful to present to those audience (senior officials from EU member states and the European Commission) the results”. At the same time, Professor Iucu mentioned that the event marks “a step forward” in the framework of the European Diplomas pilot project at UB, which he is coordinating, together with the Autonomous University of Madrid and CIVIS.
Next, prof. Marian Preda, PhD, rector of the University of Bucharest, pointed out that UB has always made concerted efforts to build, affirm and consolidate a strong research community: “The University of Bucharest has always tried to focus its attention both on research progress and on opinions related to things that can be improved. That’s why we want to have a University that asserts itself globally, to have a research community aligned with European standards”, emphasized Professor Preda.Also, prof. Sorin Costreie, PhD, vice-rector for University Networks and Public Relations of the University of Bucharest, president of the Network of Universities from the Capitals of Europe – UNICA, highlighted the strength of the academic union both in the current geo-political context, marked by crises, and at national level. In his speech, the “UNIQUE voice” spoke about the importance of stability, a crucial factor in a university, ensuring good functioning in all its structures.
Ligia Deca, the Romanian Minister of Education, explained to those attending the event the importance and need for innovation in the education system: “Innovation in the education system is probably the most important project we are working on together. To achieve this, we need to return to the basic concepts, to European values, with the aim of creating a European identity. Between all the partner universities, there is a need to create a common legislative fund, based, first of all, on trust”, said Ligia Deca.
Cristina Ghițulică, vice-president of the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA), spoke about the perspective of university quality assurance and the role of the institution it represents, emphasizing the openness it has “to support this project in terms of innovation in the education”.
Lect. Irene Martín, PhD, teaching staff at the Autonomous University of Madrid, discussed the challenges that the implementation of the SMARTT project presents to the partner universities, including UB and UAM, as well as the necessity of its existence, considering the socio-economic context we are going through.
The event was also attended by Odysseas-Ioannis Zoras, the general secretary for higher education of the Greek Ministry of Education, Horia Onita, the president of the European Student Organization (ESU), Vanessa Debiais-Sainton, director of the Higher Education Unit of the General Directorate for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture of the European Commission, as well as Yann-Maël Bideau, the European Commission’s policy officer responsible for the European Diplomas project.
On behalf of the University of Bucharest, the event was also attended by prof. Bogdan Murgescu, PhD, Prof. Lucian Ciolan, PhD, prof. Anca Nedelcu, PhD, lect. Simona Iftimescu, PhD, but also other experts from the CIVIS team from the University of Bucharest.
Also, the meeting was attended in person and online by numerous representatives from the field of higher education, representatives of the ministries of education from the member countries of the European Union partnering in the project, as well as from the national agencies for quality assurance in education and research from various EU member states, of European universities and academic communities, but also by numerous experts in the field of higher education in the European milieu.
The University of Bucharest is, together with the Autonomous University of Madrid and the CIVIS European Alliance, the coordinator of the project.
Considering the significant experience in the design and implementation of joint and multiple study programs at transnational level, the higher education institutions involved in the SMARTT project aim to expand this experience and formulate, based on clear methodologies and detailed analyses, recommendations and proposals, both for the European Commission and for the Member States, with the aim of supporting the development of a European approach for the design and implementation of Common European Diplomas in the near future, in accordance with the European Strategy for Universities and the strategic objectives of the European University Alliances. Moreover, the SMARTT project also aims to issue such diplomas by the first part of 2024 following a testing and piloting approach on a significant number of joint transnational study programs.
CIVIS is a European University Alliance that brings together 11 member universities: Aix-Marseille Université (France), National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Greece), University of Bucharest (Romania), Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium), Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain), Sapienza Università di Roma (Italy), Stockholm University (Sweden), Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen (Germany), University of Glasgow (UK), Paris Lodron University Salzburg (Austria) and University of Lausanne (Switzerland). Selected by the European Commission as one of the first 17 European pilot universities, CIVIS brings together approximately half a million students and over 70,000 staff members, including 37,400 academics and researchers.