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Inclusion and mobility in higher education: a long road ahead

EI urged ministers to take action to make higher education more inclusive at the UNESCO general conference today.

From 12-27 November 2019, UNESCO’s General Conference is hosting delegations from 193 countries to decide on some of the most pressing issues of today. The event will unfold over two weeks, with six Commissions, four Committees and about 25 side events involving Heads of States and more than 150 ministers.

Education is high on the agenda, with the meeting of the 2030 Steering Committee which took place 11-12 November, numerous key education issues addressed during the Education Commission - a high-level meeting dedicated to inclusion and mobility in higher education - and a special session on Saturday 16 dedicated to the launch of a global framework on professional teaching standards, hosted jointly by Education International (EI) and UNESCO.

Inclusion and mobility in higher education: a long road ahead

The high-level meeting on inclusion and mobility in higher education aimed to highlight and strengthen the role that the higher education community must play in addressing the key challenges and opportunities provided in Sustainable Development Goal 4. In particular, the session discussed the Global Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education foreseen to be adopted during the General Conference this year.

Haldis Holst, EI Deputy General Secretary, shared the educators’ perspective with Ministers and other stakeholders during a keynote address. Stressing that educators are strong supporters of inclusion and mobility in education, Holst pointed out some key issues that must be addressed if the aim of the Education 2030 agenda of “leaving no one behind” is to be achieved:

  • Education must be truly inclusive – accessible and safe for all groups, including girls, minorities, people with disabilities and the marginalised;
  • Ensuring quality in higher education means providing for appropriate terms and conditions of employment and professional rights, alongside the lines defined by the ILO 1997 Recommendation on higher education. Governments should address precarious employment in the sector and ensure that academics and researchers have permanent contracts, as well as security of tenure. Holst emphasised the need to protect and promote academic freedom and professional autonomy, enabling academics and researchers to carry out research and teaching without interference.
  • Mobility in higher education must not become a market. It must be available to all, not just the privileged few. Governments have to be particularly vigilant when it comes to the exploitation of international students and the charging of exorbitant fees by recruitment agencies and higher education institutions.