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MIL OSI Translation. Region: Germany / Deutschland –

Source: Federal Ministry of Education and Research

19.11.2020Press release: 179/2020

Academic freedom was the dominant theme at the virtual ministerial conference of the European Higher Education Area

Science ministers from 48 countries in the European Higher Education Area discussed cooperation in Europe at a virtual conference. The meeting was planned for June in Rome, but had to be postponed and held virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to opportunities for increased cooperation between the states, the ministers also discussed current examples of violations of the fundamental values ​​of the European higher education area. Parliamentary State Secretary Thomas Rachel, who took part in the conference for the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), explains on this: “The Federal Government is committed to freedom of science and teaching at all levels of government. The grave human rights violations, the use of violence and punishments against peaceful demonstrators, students and teachers, which we have been watching with great concern in Belarus for weeks, blatantly violate the fundamental values ​​of Europe. They also violate the principles of the European Higher Education Area, to which the university ministers have repeatedly committed themselves over the past 20 years. These values ​​are non-negotiable. ”Isabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen, Minister of Science of North Rhine-Westphalia, took part in the conference as the representative of the federal states and added:“ At the moment, nothing less than the freedom of science is at stake in some countries. We cannot simply accept these violations of our common achievements. On the other hand, the corona pandemic poses major challenges for universities across Europe. So far, however, they have impressively shown that they were able to adapt extremely flexibly and quickly to the current situation. In addition, the pandemic also offers the opportunity to advance the digitization of studies and teaching more quickly. This could ultimately facilitate access to higher education in Europe as a whole. ”Background: The starting point for the discussion was a statement on the situation in Belarus presented by the current co-chair of the European Higher Education Area – Great Britain and Germany. Numerous ministers supported this statement. ( The resolutions of the conference thus once again underline the basic values ​​of the European Higher Education Area, first and foremost the freedom of science, university autonomy and the democratic participation of students, teachers, researchers and employees. To this end, the political dialogue on academic freedom is being strengthened and a comprehensive framework for measuring the level of academic freedom in the now 49 states of the European Higher Education Area is being developed. In addition, the Ministerial Conference decided to adopt the social dimension of higher education for social and European cohesion in the coming years to make a focus of their work, as well as to organize an intensive exchange about good examples in teaching and learning. Due to the great success of the past two years, the support procedure for states that still have deficits in the implementation of the core reforms, which was decided at the last ministerial conference in Paris in 2018, was continued until 2024, with San Marino being the 49th state to join the European Higher Education Area . The next ministerial conference will take place in Albania in 2024.


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