949th meeting – 1 December 2005

Appendix 6
(Item 7.1)

Terms of reference of the Steering Committee for Higher Education and Research (CDESR)

General terms of reference

1. Name of Committee:

Steering Committee for Higher Education and Research (CDESR)

2. Type of Committee:

Steering Committee

3. Source of terms of reference:

Committee of Ministers

4. Terms of reference:

a. Under the authority of the Committee of Ministers and in the framework of the European Cultural Convention as well as of the priorities of intergovernmental co-operation defined by the Declaration and the Action Plan adopted by the Third Summit of the Heads of State and Government, the Steering Committee for Higher Education and Research (CDESR) shall be responsible for the implementation of higher education and research activities included in the programme adopted by the Committee of Ministers.

b. The Committee shall draw up the orientations for a programme of activities which it shall submit to the Committee of Ministers through the Secretary General. Its proposals will focus in particular on:

- the development of European higher education and research on the basis of common democratic principles and of the values of the European university heritage, including the freedoms of learning, teaching and research, and the self-government of academic institutions within a democratic society;

- the contribution of the Council of Europe to the European Higher Education Area (Bologna Process) and its interaction with the European Research Area;

- policies and standards promoting mobility of students, graduates and staff, in particular through the fair recognition of qualifications and the removal of obstacles to mobility;

- the contribution of higher education to the economic, social and cultural development of European societies;

- building a democratic, cohesive and pluralist society and in developing a mutual understanding between peoples, in particular by contributing to developing and maintaining democratic culture;

- contributing to intercultural and inter-faith dialogue.

c. The Committee shall ensure that this programme, once adopted by the Committee of Ministers, is implemented. It shall evaluate and disseminate its results and put forward appropriate proposals, or, where necessary, take decisions for exploiting these results to the best possible effect.

d. The Committee prepares sessions of the Conference of European Ministers responsible for Higher Education and Research, with the assistance of the Steering Committee for Education (CDED) if this is warranted by the theme adopted, and ensure that these are followed up.

e. The Committee is established as an equal forum of institutions of higher education of the member states and of their competent national administrations. Its scope covers the teaching and research missions of all higher education institutions, including universities and non-university institutions; their contribution to the economy, to culture, and to society; and the relationships to their members, to the public authorities, and to other parts of society, that these missions require.

The Committee shall in particular:

i. exchange ideas and experience on issues of policy and practice concerning those institutions and public authorities, and where appropriate identify and disseminate good practice;

ii. organise advice to national governmental and academic bodies on the renewal of higher education;

iii. secure the widest possible movement within Europe of individual members of the higher education community, especially through the support and development of the Council of Europe's legal instruments on the recognition of qualifications and on academic mobility;

iv. to the above ends, promote and facilitate international co-operation between institutions of higher education.

In its activities, it shall develop appropriate co-operation with governmental bodies, university associations and other higher education institutions, and other international organisations and institutions active at European level.

f. The Committee co-ordinates its work with that of the other steering committees of the Council of Europe, participates in cross-sectoral initiatives and contributes to the transversal programmes and initiatives set up by the Secretary General.

5. Membership of the Committee:

a. All Contracting Parties to the European Cultural Convention shall have the right to appoint two representatives, i.e. one senior official, and one senior academic chosen by the competent body or bodies representing the universities or all institutions of higher education. The travel and subsistence expenses of these two representatives (three in the case of the state whose representative has been elected as Chair) shall be borne by the Council of Europe budget.

The senior official and the senior academic constituting the national delegation shall each have one vote.

b. The Chair of the Steering Committee for Education (CDED) shall take part in the Committee's meetings. His/her travel and subsistence expenses shall be borne by the Council of Europe budget.

c. The Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe may be represented at the meetings of the Committee, at the charge of their administrative budget and without the right to vote.

d. The European Commission may send one representative to the Committee's meetings, without the right to vote or defrayal of expenses.

e. The following observer states with the Council of Europe may send a representative to meetings of the Committee without the right to vote or defrayal of expenses:

United States of America.

f. The following observers with the Committee may send representatives to meetings of the Committee, without the right to vote or defrayal of expenses:

Nordic Council of Ministers;
EUA – European University Association;
European Science Foundation;
European Cultural Foundation;
International Association of Universities;
National Unions of Students of Europe (ESIB);
ALECSO – Arab League for Education, Culture and Science Organisation;
EURASHE – European Association of Institutions in Higher Education;
FUCE – European Federation of Catholic Universities.

g. Persons highly qualified in the field of higher education may participate in the work of the Committee, without the right to vote, at the invitation of the Chair, subject to the agreement of the Committee and to such terms and arrangements as it may decide.

h. The Education and Culture group of NGOs which have participative status with the Council of Europe may send (a) representative(s) to meetings of the Committee at its own expense and without the right to vote.

6. Working structures and methods:

Within its terms of reference, the Committee elects a Bureau of eight members.

When electing the Chair, the Vice-Chair and members of the Bureau, the Committee shall seek to ensure the representation of both categories of members (one senior official and one senior academic).

The Committee is entitled to set up working parties with a view to ensuring the implementation of its activities.

The Committee and its Bureau shall organise their work in accordance with the provisions applicable to intergovernmental co-operation structures laid down by the Committee of Ministers.

7. Duration:

These terms of reference shall be reviewed before 31 December 2007.



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