Final Conference, June 2011, Prague

On the 27th and 28th of June more than 30 lecturers, university management representatives and people actively involved in the area of higher education met in Prague to do a sort of “Reality Check” about Higher Education in Central and South Eastern Europe. The discussions that took place over the course of two days covered a wide range of subjects – from the comparison of higher education systems in different countries and regions and the issue of privatization of universities, to the question of massification of higher education and the future of so-called “luxury subjects”.

The conference began with the public event on the 27th, which started with a keynote speech by Renata Salecl, a philosopher and theorist based in London and Ljubljana. She talked about a wide range of changes that took place in the period of transition from socialism to capitalism that influenced so many areas of our lives. She also addressed the feelings of anxiety and freedom that could be felt then and that are being experienced nowadays, yet in very different ways. Salecl ended her speech with the appeal to universities to “have the courage to conduct social critique and imagine alternative futures”.

The panel discussion that took place after the keynote included representatives of all stakeholders of the PATTERNS Lectures project: university management, lecturers, students, the project’s Academic Advisory Panel, ERSTE Foundation, as well as the keynote speaker. The discussion concentrated mostly on the changes that have been experienced in the area of higher education over the last two decades, with particular emphasis on the implementation of the Bologna process and the increasing commercialization of higher education.

On the second day, an internal meeting was organised for all project partners, during which they exchanged their experiences of project implementation over the last year. The presentations from lecturers and university representatives provided a great deal of insight and sparked interesting discussions which have left us reflecting on the measures we should take in the future in order to further develop and improve this project.

The conference was organised by ERSTE Foundation and WUS Austria and it was hosted at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague. The programme of the conference is available here.

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