Highlights from the 2009 World Conference on Higher Education

Highlights from the 2009 World Conference on Higher Education

October 2009 – Ten years after the first World Conference on Higher Education (WCHE), organized by UNESCO, over 1,200 participants representing a broad range of actors with a vested interest in higher education came together in Paris to assess the progress made and the remaining challenges.


The 2009 WCHE Conference, held in Paris from 5-8 July 2009, had as its theme New Dynamics in Higher Education Research for Societal Change and Development. The need to ensure an end to all discrimination in higher education was stressed throughout the conference. Delegates called for existing social inequalities to be reversed and for equal terms of acceptance into higher education institutions to be applied.


The development of African higher education and research area was a main focus. With a four member delegation, GWI was one of the few NGOs advocating women’s empowerment. GWI delegates were especially involved in the session on Women in Higher Education, Research, and Innovation (HERI): Gains and Further Challenges for a Research Agenda. NGOs stressed that equal access does not happen on its own; innovative steps must be taken. Some of the strategies suggested included affirmative action for women, research to support changing attitudes towards women, review of curriculum and a stronger role for NGOs and civil society.


GWI representatives also took part in two of the regional preparatory meetings. The UNESCO Forum on Higher Education held in Bucharest in May focused on accession, values, quality, competitiveness and challenges for higher education in a globalizing world.

The Arab Regional Conference on Higher Education (ARCHE+10) held in Cairo in June, assessed regional progress and was the first step toward creating an “Arab Space for Higher Education”, similar to one established by European countries in the Bologna Declaration of 1999.


For reports from the four meetings, see:

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