The end is just the beginning: SMILE Final Symposium Barcelona
The Social Meaning Impact through Lifelong Learning universities in Europe (SMILE) project held its final event on 16 January in Barcelona, Spain. The event gathered various stakeholders of diversity and inclusion in higher education, and was co-organised by eucen and Fundació Solidaritat Universitat de Barcelona. The event shed light on universities’ approach to diversity and inclusion, emphasizing the growing importance of their third mission and the role of lifelong learning in this context.
The Symposium was opened by Montserrat Puig Llobet (Vice-Rector for Equality and Gender of the University of Barcelona), who underlined the strategic necessity of Higher Education Institutions to foster inclusion and diversity, as it enriches the educational experience when students are exposed to different experiences and perspectives. When universities take proactive steps to break down barriers, not only more equality is created but learners’ full potential can be unlocked. She concluded that universities are responsible for creating environments where all individuals – no matter what their background is – are able to thrive.
Carme Royo (eucen) presented a short overview of the SMILE project and its objectives. She explained that the project’s overarching aim is to contribute to building a more inclusive Europe by (1) promoting inclusive education and training by developing, testing and implementing innovative tools that improve the way higher education institutions deal with diversity and inclusion, (2) supporting HE staff in understanding, addressing and reinforcing diversity, (3) harvesting the expertise of CSOs and individuals and including their experiences in SMILE tools. To do so, SMILE focused on 3 main interconnected areas of inequality and disadvantage in higher education: the issue of lower access participation and attainment of 1st and 2nd generation immigrants in HE, the need to foster equal access to leadership positions, and the issue of lower access participation and attainment of learners with a lower socio-economic status. Project partners Cati Jerez (University of Barcelona), Ester Cois (University of Cagliari), and Claudiu Romila (Gheorghe Asachi Technical University of Iasi) provided a deeper insight of the project’s three focus areas and its main findings and obstacles.
The symposium was also the perfect opportunity to present and receive feedback on the SMILE tools: the SMILE Audit model which are a set of tools to allow HEIs (but also other organisations) to self-reflect regarding the way their institution is addressing and enabling diversity in general, the CPD courses for HE staff on the three focus areas (migrant background, women in leadership in HE, and low socio-economic status) and Policy Recommendations and Action Plan.
The end is just the beginning! Don’t miss out on the great SMILE tools and its further developments! Find all project information on the project website.
Do you like the work that SMILE has developed and does your organization want to support inclusive education? Please send us a support letter! You can download a template following this link and send it to alexandra.matthys@Solidar.org.