Brussels, 25 June 2019

Democratic Learning Environment in Higher Education

This policy paper was prepared within the framework of Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF), specifically for Tbilisi Eastern Partnership Conference: Promoting Common Values through Education and Culture, happening between 25-26 June 2019. It provides a snapshot of the situation, with regards to promoting the fundamental European values in the higher education systems of the six EaP countries.

This policy paper focuses on the capability of the higher education systems of the six EaP countries to serve the purpose of promoting the European values as an integral part of the EHEA (Eurooean Higher Education Area). Due to the heterogeneous situation of the higher education environment in each of the EaP countries and limited time for analysis, the expert assessment method was selected for this piece of work. To carry out this analysis, a special team of country experts was established, based on the recommendations of the EaP CSF National Platforms and experience of previous work on the EHEA issues in the EaP countries’ context. A special extensive questionnaire was prepared by the expert coordinators to provide a comparable framework for the country experts to provide and analyse qualitative information. The qualitative data is mainly based on the information about legislation, regulations, national policies and the experts’ assessment of specific aspects of the higher education reality. The experts also relied on the national and international statistics and secondary analysis of sociological surveys. The main indicators presented in this paper are based on the EHEA, European University Association (EUA) and Transparency International (TI) criteria grouped and analysed within four main dimensions:

  • Academic Freedom
  • Institutional Autonomy
  • Corruption-Free Environment in Higher Education
  • Inclusiveness in Higher Education

Reports on each of the six EaP countries are presented in the Annexes. The EaP countries are on the periphery of the pan-European efforts to monitor and evaluate achievements in higher education by degree and quality of the process of values implementation. The EaP region is excluded from the institutional autonomy study, periodically conducted by the EUA. It often remains a blank spot in the EHEA reports on the issues related to the social and value dimensions of higher education. Incomplete and incomparable statistics does not contribute to drawing an objective picture of higher education reforms in the EaP countries. This is part of a more general issue: lack of transparency. This is not only the consequence of the non-public political process in some countries but is the result of lack of the relevant tools and mechanisms.

Preparing this policy paper, the expert team faced significant challenges related to insufficient transparency of information and lack of essential data regarding the state of affairs in some of the dimensions under analysis. In spite of this, the country experts collected the maximum information available for analysis based on which a general regional comparative analysis of the situation in all six EaP countries was carried out. Local characteristics and country trends are described in more detail in separate country reports which may be of interest to the reader, specialising in the issues of a particular country. In view of the above, this study and recommendations are of even higher added value to fill in the gap with independent analysis of presence and practice of the European values in the higher education systems in the EaP region.

This publication is the result of collaborative work of experts from the six EaP CSF National Platforms with the financial, organisational, and information support of the Secretariat and the Steering Committee of the EaP CSF (the List of Contributors is provided in the end of the paper).

Available for download

  • Policy Paper, Democratic Learning Environment: Fostering European Values within Higher Education Systems in EaP Countries, EaP CSF, 2019
  • Short version, Democratic Learning Environment: Fostering European Values within Higher Education Systems in EaP Countries, EaP CSF, 2019