Diversity and inclusion in European universities: which way forward?

Inclusiveness has become a strategic question for a number of higher education institutions across Europe, impacting learning and teaching, research and institutional cultures. Many have taken action to find new ways to enable people from various backgrounds to find their place in higher education. The idea that diverse learning environments may better prepare students for a diverse society and that diverse research environments are a precondition for excellence is gaining ground.

The event will be a unique opportunity to discuss a topic of growing importance for Europe and its universities based on the findings of the INVITED report with data from 159 higher education institutions in 36 European systems. It will also be an occasion to showcase examples of institutional approaches towards diversity, equity and inclusion in learning, teaching, research and innovation and discuss policy implications with representatives of the EU institutions, national ministries, students and university leadership.

Consult the presentation of the INVITED results by Anna-Lena Claeys-Kulik, Policy Coordinator, at the European University Association

  • Anna-Lena Claeys-Kulik

    Anna-Lena Claeys-Kulik is Policy Coordinator at the European University Association. She contributes to ensuring coherent policies for universities as well as overall policy development and managing cross-cutting issues with policy relevance.
    Between 2011 and 2016 Anna-Lena worked on project management and policy development in the area of university funding and governance. Prior to joining EUA, Anna-Lena worked at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Education & Culture in the Unit for Higher Education and the Erasmus Programme.
    Anna-Lena holds a Master’s degree in European Political and Administrative Studies from the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium as well as a Magister degree in Communication Science, Political Science and Philosophy from the University of Münster, Germany. During her studies she also spent one year at the Institute of Political Sciences of Bordeaux/France.

  • Françoise de Viron

    Françoise de Viron, PhD, is Professor at the Education & Training School of UClouvain in Belgium.
    She is currently teaching ‘Knowledge Management’, ‘The foundations of research in Adult Education’
    and ‘Training & Education Projects Management’, at Master level. Her main field of research is Adult Education, in particular University Lifelong Learning Policies and Strategies. She is co-founder and leader of a research group dedicated to Adult Education within UCLouvain and she is member of ESREA (European Society for Research on the Education of Adults).
    Her recent main research focuses on validation of non-formal and informal learning, adult motivations for continuous training, strategies of lifelong universities regarding their social role. At national level, she was President of the Commission in charge of the University lifelong learning
    development within French-speaking Belgium for 6 years (2004-2011), providing recommendations to Universities Authorities and the Minister of Higher Education.
    At international level, she was Vice-President of eucen in 2012-2015 and President of eucen in
    2015-2019. During these periods, she was specifically involved in two recent EU-funded projects led
    by eucen: COMMIT, developing tools to help higher education institutions to design and implement a LLL strategy committed to social issues and HE4U2, developing tools to make teaching and learning
    more diverse within universities.

  • Robert Napier

    Robert Napier is the President of the European Students’ Union (2019-2020). He holds a Bachelor of Laws (Hons.) and a Master of Advocacy from the University of Malta. He has a passion for Human Rights and has been striving for a better understanding and implementation of the Social Dimension within Higher Education. He has been involved in the student movement for several years and has always been advocating for students' rights, from the local to the international level.

    Robert Napier is currently co-chairing the BFUG Advisory Group on Social Dimension together with the Ministry of Science & Education of Croatia, within which a set of Principle and Guidelines to improve the Social Dimension of Higher Education are being prepared to be adopted by the Ministers of the EHEA countries. He is also an elected member of the Advisory Council on Youth of the Council of Europe.

  • Michal Bulant

    Michal Bulant has been Vice-Rector for Studies and Quality at Masaryk University, Brno, since 2015. With more than 30’000 students and 6’000 employees, Masaryk is the second largest university in the Czech Republic, member of EUA and the Utrecht Network, and also an institution acclaimed for its civic commitment, as well as for its strong engagement in the modernisation of teaching and learning. Michal Bulant’s responsibilities  include the design and implementation of a new internal quality assurance system, structural reform of degree programmes, implementation of new regulations aiming at fostering student-centred approach, and introduction of a new concept of Student’s Advisory Services. His professional background is mathematics; he lectures in math, computer science and teacher training programmes, and especially enjoys showing the beauty of math to an interested audience of various age.

  • Mathieu Schneider

    Mathieu Schneider is Associate Professor in history of music and, since 2014, Vice-President of the University of Strasbourg. Taught in France and Germany, he is an acknowledged expert in culture and arts in France and is member of various committees for funding arts, evaluating curricula in arts and culture. He has been curating two exhibitions and is frequently invited to concert halls and opera houses to give speeches and conferences. He has also attended and organised several conferences on Science and society, especially on the interactions between universities and the territories to which they belong and on the scientific and social commitment of universities. He is now coordinating the network of French universities committed to welcoming refugees. As Vice-President, he is in charge of culture, editorial policy and the interactions between the university and its social environment.

  • Annalisa Oboe

    Annalisa Oboe is Professor of English and Postcolonial literatures (Department of Linguistic and Literary Studies) at the University of Padua, Italy, where she currently serves as Vice-Rector for Cultural, Social and Gender Relations. She is the founder and director of the ‘Elena Cornaro’ University of Padua Centre for Gender Studies (Centro di Ateneo ‘Elena Cornaro’ per i saperi, le culture e le politiche di genere), and an elected member of the Accademia Galileiana di Scienze Lettere ed Arti (Padova) and of the Accademia Olimpica (Vicenza).

    Her research focuses on postcolonial critical theory and cultures, gender studies, contemporary Anglophone literatures, women’s writing, African and Black Atlantic narratives, postcolonial Italy. She is P.I. and coordinator of the postcolonialitalia research project, and the founder and chief editor of the online open-access scientific journal From the European South: a transdisciplinary journal of postcolonial humanities.


  • Lokesh Joshi

    Lokesh Joshi is the Vice-President for Research and Science Foundation Ireland-Stokes Professor of Glycosciences at the National University of Ireland Galway (NUI Galway). His research focuses on the role of complex sugars and proteins in health and diseases. His group is working on developing novel technologies and solutions including disease-related biomarkers, identification of pathogens, commensal bacteria in the gut and the relationship between dietary components and gut health.
    Lokesh Joshi is the founder of a Biotech company, Aquila Bioscience, focusing on healthcare and security solutions. Aquila Bioscience has developed a unique solution for the collection and decontamination of microbial pathogens including biological threat agents, toxins and antibiotic resistant bacteria. Aquila Bioscience is funded by the European Union and European Defence Agency and is developing technologies in collaboration with Defence Forces Ireland.
    Prior to his tenure in Ireland, he was Associate Professor in the Department of Bioengineering at Arizona State University (ASU), Tempe, Arizona. He completed Post-Doctoral and Research Associate training at Boyce Thompson Institute and Cornell University, Ithaca, New York and received a PhD from Bath University, UK in microbial pathogenesis.

  • Robin Mellors-Bourne

    Robin Mellors-Bourne is Director of Research & Intelligence of CRAC/Vitae. He is a Fellow of the National Institute for Careers Education and Counselling (NICEC), an Associate of ‘Advance HE’ and an evaluation consultant for the Royal Society and the British Council. Amongst his recent work has been a series of fellowship evaluations, for the Royal Society, Wellcome Trust and others, and also a range of diversity-focused projects in the HE research environment and other industry sectors. He is currently undertaking a project looking at why rates of disability disclosure are apparently so low amongst academics in science.  

    CRAC (the Careers Research & Advisory Centre) is a UK non-profit organisation, founded in 1964, that provides research, expertise and innovation services to those who support career development. It also owns Vitae, a programme focused on development of researchers. Robin Mellors-Bourne has led CRAC’s research and evaluation work for 10 years. His research interests include: career decision-making; transitions into/from higher education; progression to postgraduate study; career tracking; postgraduate, STEM and research careers; diversity and inclusion; and impact studies. He has created and implemented over 40 career research or evaluation studies to date, many related to higher education or research.

  • Sarah Ahannach

    Sarah Ahannach obtained her Master in Biomedical Forensic Science at KULeuven and is currently a PhD student at the Department of Bioscience Engineering at the University of Antwerp (Laboratory of Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology). She is deeply committed to female causes and to apply technology to improve female health and safety. She mainly works on the female microbiome and its potential in healthcare and forensic casework. This proceeds in her eagerness for scientific communication on the topics of women’s health and bioinformatics in microbiology, and her readiness to participate in scientific discussions with peers and colleagues.  Sarah Ahannach not only works in STEM, but also passionately supports other women in related fields. To do this, she participates in talks about “The role of women in STEM” and highlights what she considers important: gender equality, diversity and inclusive society. In addition, she likes to put her ideas into action through actively participating in student associations and various university councils.  She is a supporter of diversity in academia and volunteers at the Workgroup Diversity in the Flemish Youth Council, for whom she also writes blogs and formal advice. Lastly, she also volunteers at the Young Antwerp Golden Z club, which is part of the international organisation Zonta that empowers women and girls through service and advocacy.

  • Vanessa Debiais-Sainton

    Vanessa Debiais-Sainton is Head of the Unit in charge of Higher Education policies and programmes at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture. The unit is the lead service for European policies on reform and modernisation of higher education, the new European Universities initiative, automatic mutual recognition of higher education qualifications, the creation of the EU student card, and the higher education strand of Erasmus+. In previous posts in the European Commission, she has worked in DG Research and Innovation. Before moving to the European Commission in 2006, she spent eight years working for several petroleum and chemical companies.

  • Mina Stareva

    Mina Stareva is Head of the Gender Sector in DG Research and Innovation, European Commission. This sector is responsible for devising the EU strategy for gender equality in research and innovation, and the integration of a gender dimension into research and innovation programmes and content. Prior to joining the Science with and for Society unit in DG Research and Innovation, she was working on developing the European Research Area policy and international cooperation in research. Mina Stareva holds a bachelor’s degree in Law from Robert Schuman – Strasbourg University and a Master of Arts degree in Political Sciences from the College of Europe

  • Marina Matešić

    Marina Matešić is Head of Department for Quality in Higher Education in the Sector for development of higher education at the Ministry of Science and Education, Croatia. She has worked for 10 years with the Agency for Science and Higher Education where she was responsible for developing new models of evaluations, managing external evaluations of research at universities, doctoral programmes, and at research institutes. She also participated in a number of international projects dealing with the development of various higher education policies, particularly in the area of learning outcomes of study programmes, social engagement and human rights in higher education. Her new responsibilities in the Ministry are development of policies in the area of social dimension and equity in higher education and enhancing the policies in quality assurance. She is managing an international (Croatia-Austrian-Swedish) project called Enhancing Social Dimension of Higher Education through Internationalisation and Recognition of Prior Learning. She graduated in teacher training track humanities (BA and MA), and gender studies (MA and PhD) in Croatia, USA, Hungary and Slovenia.

  • Maria Keplinger

    Maria Keplinger is head of the department on Higher Education Development in the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research. Her fields of expertise include higher education research for policy preparation and evaluations
    advising on political implementation of, e.g. social dimension, third mission, higher education access, Student Social Survey, and graduate tracking.

    She is the coordinator of legally required evaluation processes regarding university law, such as evaluation of access regulations. She is also project manager for the strategy development process on the social dimension of higher education (National Strategy on the social dimension of higher education, 2017)

    Maria Keplinger is a member of several working groups: working group on Equality and Diversity Management in the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research as well as the working Group on the Higher Education Development Plan


The event will be held at:

Delegation of the Government of Catalonia to the European Union in Brussels
Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat 227, 1040 Brussels

Registration deadline:  25 February 2020.


The conference venue is ideally located between the European quarter and the city centre of Brussels. You will find a wide range of accommodation, in various price categories.
Due to the popularity of Brussels as a destination, we advise participants to book their hotel rooms as soon as possible. 

Please find below a list of nearby hotels:

Best Western Plus Park Hotel Brussels
Avenue de l’Yser 21, 1040 Brussels

Hotel NH Brussels EU Berlaymont
Boulevard Charlemagne, 11-19, 1000 Brussels

New Hotel Charlemagne
Boulevard Charlemagne, 25-27,  1000 Brussels

University Foundation
Egmontstreet 11, 1000 Brussels

9 Hotel Chelton
Rue Véronèse 48, 1000 Brussels

Motel One Brussels
Rue Royale 120, 1000 Brussels


For further information, please contact: events@eua.eu.   

Comfortable read mode Normal mode X