Integration of Local Contexts

In addition to a re-definition of the social dimension on the European level, national ministries need to develop working definitions of the social dimension based on local needs and demands. These national definitions should still follow the European framework, but also set their own clear targets to ensure progress in the social dimension in the individual member states of the EHEA. A national definition should also reflect on the responsibility of higher education institutions.

Of course a definition of the social dimension alone does not lead to progress or change, which is why the definitions should be linked to action plans as described above.

Reform the Working Group on Social Dimension (and Lifelong Learning)

The Bologna Follow-up working group on the social dimension and lifelong learning for the years 2012–2015, or in short BFUG WG on SD and LLL, follows a similar structure to the BFUG and utilises the European Commission's Open Method of Coordination. This method's suitability to ensure progress is questionable as it includes only ministries and the E4 [European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA), European Students' Union (ESU), European University Association (EUA), European Association of Institutions in Higher Education (EURASHE)]. Among the excluded groups are individual higher education institutions, networks created to improve access and social mobility (e.g. the European Access Network), as well as researchers. As the working group is responsible to the follow-up group itself, it might be sensible to elaborate on the opportunity to include more non-ministerial experts within the working group. This could be an alternative or accompanying concept for the idea described below of an observatory. This more diversified group might well be able to find new innovative approaches to implement the social dimension, while being inclusive towards all stakeholder groups and it would enable experts who have a daily relationship with the social dimension to participate.

Connecting the Social Dimension

As described above, the social dimension is also an underlying process which can be linked to all other working areas of the EHEA. But this inherent link is currently merely implicit. To make the connections more obvious and to ensure stronger contributions towards the social dimension, all working groups should be mandated by the follow-up group to set their own sub-targets and recommendations for the social implications of their area of competence.

 
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