European Commission’s Conference on Higher Education in Conflict Affected Regions

by: Kanishka Wahidi & Kyle Vigraham

The European Commission hosted the 6th Annual Donor Harmonization Group on Internationalization and Development in Higher Education Collaboration in Brussels, Belgium from 19 to 21 of October 2015.  The conference brought together EU institutions and International Organization working in the field of higher education to harmonize and discuss current challenges with a focus on conflict affected countries such as Syria.

Kanishka Wahidi, a Second year student of Willy Brandt School and DAAD Scholarship holder participated as a panel member on the topic of higher education support in conflict regions.  The discussion was chaired by Ms. Aurora Iglesias, the Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development in the European Commission. Mr. Wahidi gave a speech on the importance of higher education in conflict regions, modes of intervention, and priorities in higher education.  He emphasized the importance of coordination and linkages with local actors at the regional and national level.  Mr. Wahidi also pointed out the role of scholarship programs such as DAAD in conflict regions to help educate future decision makers and leaders.  In addition, he was able to share his experience of studying in Erfurt and his future career plan as an example for the general audience.

The conference participants discussed other topics such as approaches for regional convergence in higher education, the international dimension of Erasmus+, challenges and opportunities through digital teaching, as well as other areas of interest. A public Event was held on topic of “The Role of Higher Education in the Post-2015 Agenda”.  Ms. Véronique Lorenzo, Head of the European Commission Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development was among the key speakers.