This year, Barcelona has been responsible for hosting the UNESCO World Higher Education Conference (WHEC 2022). The WHEC aims to bring together different relevant actors to define and prepare a roadmap that aims to respond to the challenges facing humanity and the planet, with special attention to the global disruption created by COVID-19, from the field of education.

 

A CATESCO delegation, made up by Eduard Vallory, president, and Marina Gay, director, took part in the official program of the event, in which we highlighted the relevance of UNESCO’s new global report on education “Reimagining our futures together” which identifies universities and higher education as key role players in the transformation of learning in the world’s educational systems as a whole.

 

In the parallel program, CATESCO has organized two side events to contribute to the dialogue and reflection towards the change of educational paradigm proclaimed by UNESCO. The first, “The digital transformation agenda in post-pandemic higher education”, took place on Tuesday the 17th at the Auditorium del Convent dels Àngels (MACBA) with the collaboration of The Dialogue, an organization based in Washington which oversees for leadership and research in Latin America. The event, in a hybrid format, opened the debate on the digital transformation of higher education in the post-pandemic. The meeting brought together the opinions of thirty experts regarding the changes and new challenges that the pandemic has generated in the framework of higher education, through the discussion of group questions in order to share and reflect on possible good practices.

The second, “Rethinking access to university”, took place on Wednesday 18th at the Auditorium of the Barcelona Caixaforum. The event, co-organized by CATESCO, ACUP and “La Caixa” Foundation, had the special participation of Prof. Ann Cook, director of the New York Performance Standards Consortium, and Prof. Michelle Fine, from the  New York City University, who presented their successful case of inclusive access to university for young people from the Consortium network of institutes. Prof. and director of the Chair of Neuroeducation UB-EDU1st, David Bueno, Prof. of IPEG ICREA research, Caterina Calsamiglia, and Prof. in the Department of Education of the Universidad de Magallanes, Álvaro González Sanzana, made a subsequent analysis and discussion of the experience, and finally, the General Secretary of the Interuniversity Council of Catalonia (CIC), Cristina Gelpí and the general director of Innovation, Digitization and Curriculum of the Generalitat de Catalunya, Joan Cuevas, closed the event, pointing out the challenges of access mechanisms to university in Catalonia.

The closing of UNESCO World Higher Education Conference  was delivered by UNESCO’s Deputy Director-General for Education, Stefania Giannini, who pointed out three main and shared responsibilities: to consider Higher Education as a public and common good, connect the academic community with society, and foster a new ecology of learning, which must be permanent and collaborative.

 

The WHEC brought together in Barcelona for three days relevant experts and personalities from the academic, political and social worlds of the field of higher education, while generating a space for debate to deepen and expand the efforts aimed towards the production of knowledge , dialogue on policies, exchange and generation of networks, becoming, as UNESCO itself intended, “a global conversation fueled by diverse stories about higher education”.