The University of Barcelona (Coordinator) and the European University Association (EUA) currently comprise the consortium ‘SPHERE’ (Support and Promotion for Higher Education Reform Experts), an initiative steered by the European Commission and implemented by its Executive Agency for Education, Audiovisual and Culture. SPHERE will provide training and networking for Higher Education Reform Experts (HEREs) and National Erasmus Plus Offices (NEOs) in countries neighbouring the EU (former Tempus partner countries) between January 2015-December 2017.
The objectives of this initiative are:
- Capacity building of the nationally selected HERE teams to actively contribute to higher education reform at national level in their countries and at the level of organisations and higher education institutions.
- Awareness raising in particular about EU higher education policy – namely the EU Modernisation Agenda – and policy developments in the EHEA, and how these policies could potentially impact partner countries.
- Enhancing networking between HERE of different countries through a variety of regional and international activities.
- Peer learning to allow HERE teams at different levels of knowledge and experience to learn from each other.
The themes being explored are:
- Enhancement of learning and teaching with regards to methods and approaches
- Degrees and degree systems
- Mobility and internationalisation
- Governance, management and funding of higher education institutions and systems
- Quality assurance (institutional, external and regional)
- Graduate studies/doctoral education
The following activities will be organised on an annual basis:
- An international conference, usually towards the end of the year, linking different themes and topics.
- Two thematic seminars in different partner countries and European countries.
- Two study visits to universities, organised as a means to provide hands-on experience and peer-learning for the HERE.
- Around 50-60 technical assistance missions, as a means of providing targeted, hands-on support and consultancy to the HERE and the academic community and government in their respective countries.
- Further development and maintenance of The Higher Education Reform Portal
The partner countries (including only the former Tempus partner countries) Albania, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Palestine*, Russia, Serbia, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Kosovo**.
*This designation shall not be construed as recognition of a State of Palestine and is without prejudice to the individual positions of the Member States on this issue.
**This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.