Background information

HERE Seminar

Universities and social engagement

Nicosia, Cyprus

13-14 June, 2017


Higher Education Reform Experts represent diverse higher education systems comprised of diverse institutions. Irrespective of the different missions of HEI, social engagement, social responsiveness and the ‘third mission’ are increasingly pertinent in times when the student body is changing shape and systems are grappling with how higher education should and can best respond to societal challenges, employment, citizenship and even regional crises.

This HERE seminar will showcase EU and HERE countries and HEI, analyzing the different components of ‘social engagement’ and third mission. This will include issues related to access, catering to minority and marginalised learners, but also how to weave social engagement and responsibility into the curriculum. A special session will examine in particular how universities are responding to migrant and refugee learner needs, given that this is extremely topical in the Mediterranean at present. Co-hosted by the University of Nicosia and CARDET, a research centre that specialises in social inclusion, migrant education and ICT in education, the seminar should provide diverse perspectives on the challenges that HEIs and HE systems face in terms of catering to the diverse needs of learners and also working with society and stakeholders to ensure societal impact.

Learning outcomes

  • Be able to identify different institutional strategies with regards to inclusion, and how these strategies help HEI to respond to a changing student demographic and specifically those that may be marginalised
  • Identify some of the key issues associated with access (financing, outreach, retention and student services, RPL) and how HEI in different systems are addressing them
  • Identify good practices in how HEI are utilizing technology and ICT, including online and distance learning, to enhance access
  • Assess how the ‘social mission’ of the university is woven/can be woven into curricula design
  • Gain an overview of specific HEI strategies and programmes to include migrants and refugees, and some of the challenges associated with this
  • Connect the university social mission with that of research and identify good practices accordingly.


The SPHERE Team has selected a few suggestions that should help participants to prepare for the topics which the seminar addresses. Please find bellow a list of suggested documents: