On 11 March 2021, the TEFCE team members Thomas Farnell and Ninoslav Šćukanec Schmidt (IDE) held an online meeting with members of the Higher Education Unit of the European Commission's Directorate General for DG Education, Youth, Sport and Culture. The representatives of the Higher Education Unit were:
· Julie Anderson
· David Crosier
· Klara Engels-Perenyi
· Nadia Manzoni
· Sumathi Subramaniam
· Kinga Szuly
The meeting consisted of a presentation of the TEFCE Toolbox, a presentation of TEFCE recommendations on how community engagement might become a central part of the higher education policy landscape in Europe in the next decade and an open Discussion on synergies with DG EAC priorities, programmes and initiatives.
The conclusions of the meeting were the following:
· Positive feedback was provided by participants to the TEFCE project and in particular to TEFCE Toolbox and its piloting results.
· The topic of community engagement is currently of high relevance to the European Commission, since one of the priority areas in the document Achieving a European Education Area by 2025 is to support the university mission of 'service to society'.
· The timing of the presentation of TEFCE is relevant since the European Commission is currently working on a proposal of a new strategic policy document on the transformation of higher education and the question of universities’ societal engagement and impact will certainly feature. There is therefore a possible synergy with the TEFCE project and Toolbox in this regard – although this potential will become clearer once a draft of the document is produced in the following months.
· There are also possible synergies with the European Universities Initiative, as well as a possibility to further explore the topic of community engagement within U-Multirank and within the work of Eurydice (in terms of defining indicators for the Bologna Process guidelines relating to the social dimension, which now includes community engagement).
The meeting ended with both sides open for further consultations on how the TEFCE Toolbox and policy recommendations could connect to newly-emerging DGEAC initiatives.