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Date of print: 22/03/23

Work programme 2012-2015

Working group on Social Dimension 2012-2015

The social dimension and lifelong learning are interwoven themes that share such central issues as the provision of appropriate education support, guidance and counseling, student-centred learning, and recognition of prior learning.
Taking into account the interlinkages between the two policy areas, in its 2012-2015 work programme the BFUG decided to establish a single Social Dimension and Lifelong Learning Working Group (SD&LLL WG).

Archived content for Bologna Experts - 26/04/2012
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Source: Report of the 2012-2015 BFUG Working Group on the Social Dimension and Lifelong Learning

We request the Ministers at the Yerevan conference to adopt the document “Widening Participation for Equity and Growth - A Strategy for the Development of the Social Dimension and Lifelong Learning in the European Higher Education Area to 2020”.

Widening Participation for Equity and Growth - A Strategy for the Development of the Social Dimension and Lifelong Learning in the European Higher Education Area to 2020

In order to effectively monitor the implementation of this strategy for the development of the social dimension and lifelong learning and the specific measures it contains, we request the BFUG to report to Ministers on progress at the next Ministerial Conference in 2018.

We recommend endorsement of the work of the PL4SD initiative to date through its database and conferences, note the imminent publication of the initial three peer reviews of EHEA member countries and request Ministerial support for the continuation of the initiative beyond September 2015.

We note the important exploratory work carried out by the Working Group’s thematic sub- groups on the themes of access, teaching and learning, student supports and services and lifelong learning and employability and propose that the recommendations made by these sub-groups be brought forward under the terms of reference of the Working Group mandated by Ministers to follow up with this policy area.

We would encourage the BFUG to consider a general recommendation for teaching and learning from both a structural and social dimension perspective in the Yerevan communiqué.

We recommend further development of the interaction with initiatives and networks relevant to the work on the social dimension of higher education and lifelong learning.

Initial purpose

Source: Terms of reference Working Group on the Social Dimension and Lifelong Learning - Endorsed 15.03.2013

With reference to the sections of the Bucharest Communiqué on “Providing quality higher education for all”, “Enhancing employability to serve Europe’s needs” and “Setting out priorities for 2012-2015”.

In the Bucharest Communiqué, in undertaking to provide quality higher education for all, EHEA Ministers observed

[...]widening access to higher education is a precondition for societal progress and economic development. We agree to adopt national measures for widening overall access to quality higher education. We will work to raise completion rates and ensure timely progression in higher education in all EHEA countries [...]

Ministers also re-confirmed the declared objective of the social dimension as already outlined at the London and Leuven/Lovain-la-Neuve Ministerial Communiqués – that the student body entering and graduating from higher education institutions should reflect the diversity of Europe’s populations.

Ministers also agreed to step up their efforts towards underrepresented groups to develop the social dimensionof higher education, reduce inequalities and provide adequate student support services, counselling and guidance, flexible learning paths and alternative access routes, including recognition of prior learning.

In setting out the specific priorities for 2012-2015, the Ministers committed to strengthening policies of widening overall access and raising completion rates, including measures targeting the increased participation of underrepresented groups. The Ministers also undertook to develop a system of voluntary peer learning and reviewing by 2013 in countries which request it and initiate a pilot project to promote peer learning on the social dimension of higher education.

The Ministers further committed to enhance the employabilityand personal and professional development of graduates throughout their careers.  In that regard, they asserted that lifelong learning (LLL) is one of the important factors in meeting the needs of a changing labour market, and acknowledged that higher education institutions play a central role in transferring knowledge and strengthening regional development, including by the continuous development of competences and reinforcement of knowledge alliances.

Specific Tasks

  • To mobilise the cooperation of all relevant actorsin pursuing efforts to promote greater access, participation and completion rates in higher education for all students.
  • To fulfil the Ministerial commitment to adopt national measures for widening overall access to quality higher education by supporting EHEA countries in their work to develop and implement national access plans or strategies.
  • To support the development of common approaches in monitoring the implementation of national access plans by elaborating core indicatorsthat may be used for measuring and monitoring the relevant aspects of the social dimension in higher education.
  • To promote the development and implementation of institution-level strategies for widening access, targeting the increased participation of underrepresented groups and raising completion rates.
  • To support and guide the implementation of a pilot project (PL4SD) to facilitate peer learning on the social dimension of higher educationwhich will assist EHEA countries in developing, implementing and monitoring social dimension policies.
  • To contribute to the development of structured peer review processes across EHEA countries and institutions.
  • To address the emerging pedagogical and didactical requirements to support the needs of a more diverse student population and improve their completion rates, through practical recommendations on implementing student-centred learning (SCL).
  • To address aspect of employability by advancing implementation of Bologna reforms and raising awareness on the purpose of those among stakeholders (including employers).
  • To help to identify and set priorities for peer learning and peer review activities concerning the areas of the social dimension and lifelong learning.
Published: 26/04/2012 - Last modified: 28/07/2016
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