Keynote speakersKeynote speakers & Presentations

Keynote speakers & Presentations


Ligia Deca is currently State Advisor for Education and Research at the Romanian Presidential Administration. Ligia Deca holds a Doctorate in Political Science (policies in higher education and internationalization) from the University of Luxembourg. In 2008, Dr. Deca coordinated the Coalition for Clean Universities, a pilot project implemented by the Romanian Academic Society, focused on evaluating the integrity of higher education institutions in Romania. She was president of the European Students’ Union (2008 – 2010). Between 2010 – 2012, Dr. Deca coordinated the Secretariat of the Bologna Process and the organization of the Ministerial Conferences dedicated to ministers of education from member states in the European Higher Education Area (April 2012). From 2012 to 2015, Dr. Deca worked as an expert in public policy within the Executive Agency for Financing Higher Education, Research, Development and Innovation. In 2014, she was a member of the Science in Education Expert Group – SEEG. She was appointed State Advisor for the Romanian President in June 2015.

Long Term Strategies for Higher Education in Central and Eastern Europe: a New National Trend or an Elusive Goal?

Public policies in the field of education and research have been constantly changing in the past two decades all around the world and their impact has been significant, especially in transitioning countries, such as those situated in Central and Eastern Europe. Romania, Slovakia and Croatia are just three examples of countries that are undergoing or have recently undergone large scale reforms in education and research. But are these reforms based on a socially and politically endorsed long term vision for the sector? Or are they likely to be continuously adjusted, in light of the swift electoral changes? The stability and continuity of education reforms remains a key challenge for transitioning countries, thus it is important to look at the fate of various reforms in order to prepare for the policy challenges of the future.

Andrée SursockPhD, is Senior Adviser at the European University Association (EUA). She is involved in a wide range of projects in higher education and recently completed the EUA’s Trends 2015 report, focusing on learning and teaching developments in Europe. She serves on a number of boards of universities and quality assurance agencies and advises governments on quality assurance procedures.

As Deputy Secretary General at EUA (2001 and 2009), she was responsible for developing EUA’s quality assurance policy positions and activities. She holds a first degree in philosophy from the University Panthéon Sorbonne (France) and a PhD in social-cultural anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley (USA). Before joining EUA, she was Director of Development at the Centre for Higher Education Research and Information of the Open University, (UK), taught at a variety of institutions in the USA, and held an administrative post at Stanford University.

European Trends in Teaching and Learning

The presentation summarizes the results of “Trends 2015”, a study conducted by the European University Association. Based on a questionnaire, which was answered by 451 universities, the study confirms the pre-eminence of quality assurance, internationalization and ICT as three key change drivers that are affecting teaching and learning in Europe.


Manja Klemenčič is Lecturer in Sociology of Higher Education at Harvard University. She is also a collaborator of the Centre for Educational Policy Studies at Faculty of Education, University for Ljubljana. Manja researches, teaches, advises and consults in the area of international and comparative higher education, with particular interest on the implications of contemporary higher education reforms on students. Manja is also Editor-in-Chief of European Journal of Higher Education (Routledge/Taylor & Francis); Thematic Editor of the volume “Elite and Mass Higher Education in the 21st Century” of International Encyclopaedia of Higher Education Systems and Institutions (Springer); and Co-editor of the book series Understanding student experiences in higher education (Bloomsbury). She is a member of editorial boards of Policy Reviews in Higher Education, Tertiary Education and Management, Higher Education in Russia and Beyond, Journal of Student Affairs in Africa, and The Europa World of Learning. She serves on the Governing Board of the Consortium of Higher Education Researchers (CHER) and on the Advisory Board of the Global Forum on Improving University Teaching (IUT).  For publications see:

Reaching for Excellence in Teaching and Learning in Central European Higher Education

Student-centered learning (SCL) has entered center stage on higher education policy agenda after the Yerevan Ministerial Summit of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) in May 2015. It has become the key principle underlying the intended reforms enhancing the quality of teaching and learning in European higher education. Despite the universal appeal, SCL remains poorly defined in policy documents and this ambiguity potentially jeopardizes its implementation; especially in countries – such as those in Central Europe - which have been lagging behind in the reforms of teaching and learning. The keynote will address the different instances and evocations of the SCL approach in EHEA policies. Furthermore, it will seek to clarify the conceptual foundations of SCL. Two propositions are put forward. First, SCL should be understood as a ‘meta-concept.’ Such an understanding serves as a corrective to the eclectic use of SCL in association with a broad variety of issues. Second, the keynote questions the suitability of student engagement as a conceptual foundation of SCL. The main argument is that student engagement conceptually fails to sufficiently address student autonomy, self-regulation and choice, all of which have been highlighted by the literature as essential elements of SCL. The root concern of SCL is not propensity to certain types of desirable behavior as implied in student engagement, but rather student agency as students’ capabilities to intervene in and influence their learning environments and learning pathways. Finally, the keynote will address the possible reform agendas for enhancing quality of teaching and learning in Central Europe.

Harry F. de Boer, Senior Research Associate, Center for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS), University of Twente

Towards a Contractual State Model in Higher Education. Changes in the Relationship between the State and the HEIs

In response to challenges stemming from developments such as a growth in demand (mass higher education), globalization, fiscal crises, and inspired by neoliberal ideologies (NPM), modes of governance in higher education have changed in the last decades. Contemporary governments continuously are in pursuit of a governance model that ‘fits’. According to our view this fit relies at least on two dimensions: the features of higher education institutions and the attributes of the services delivered by these institutions. The analyses based on these dimensions will address three governance models: state control, state supervision and the contractual state. This last model, which seems to be the current model is several countries, will be illustrated with examples from the Netherlands.  

Attila Pausists, head of department, Department for Continuing Education Research and Educational Management, Danube University Krems

Stratification and Diversification of Higher Education: From the Social Contract to the Mission of Universities

The European higher education policy has nowadays been dominated by an ambitious modernization of nation-state higher education systems. These reform processes have significantly influenced both core missions of higher education institutions (HEIs), namely research and teaching. The university’s autonomy and governance, the Bologna Process, the Excellence Initiative, but also the changes in the funding of higher education - to mention some of the key issues - have led to a fundamental discussion on the role and responsibilities of HEIs. The changes range from comprehensive system reforms to institutional change processes, which are often expressed and propagated with headings like "from government to governance", "from teaching to learning" or "from research to innovation." There are examples of a necessary change and a new alignment of the social contract for HEIs, e.g. new financing models; trends such as the expansion of tertiary education; or the right of active participation in the process of lifelong learning. But these new developments and changes lead to the same question: alongside teaching and research are there other tasks for a modern university in a knowledge society? If so, then the existing social contract between HEIs and society has to be renegotiated. Politicians, decision-makers and university administrators are in search for a new identity and a new strategic anchoring of the modern university in society. The presentation deals with this phenomenon and attempts to develop a theoretical and conceptual framework of this third pillar of university activities. 

Jeroen Huisman, professor, Centre for Higher Education Governance Ghent, Ghent University

Structural Reforms in Higher Education: Recent Experiences and the way Forward

Governments across the globe initiate comprehensive reforms of their higher education systems because they want their models to be the best and to excel at what they do. This regularly requires governments to change the higher education landscape (e.g. through mergers, excellence initiatives, establishing a new higher education sector). The presentation explores the current understanding of how successful such comprehensive reforms have been and which factors contribute to the success or failure of the reforms.