In spite of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, education remains an essential and fundamental element in our way of life.
According to EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell, education is the basis of equality and freedom and the best uplifting social tool. This is the reason why the issue of education in the time of the pandemic is central to the future of the world. People to people is one of the axes of the EU engagement with the Philippines.
Last 2-3 October, the first-ever virtual European Higher Education Fair 2020 proved that quality education is still a top priority for students and educators alike.
With a theme called “Study in Europe: The Future is EUrs,” the online staging of this much-anticipated education showcase drew 8,000 registered student participants who attended 29 webinars from 93 universities and 12 member states.
EHEF 2020 provided, for the first time, an online platform for aspiring local students who dream of studying in the EU.
Mr. Thomas Wiersing, Chargé d’Affaires a.i, opened the event with an inspiring message, reminding Filipino students that EU universities have a long history of quality higher education because of creativity, innovation, and cutting edge technology. CHED Commissioner Aldrin Darilag also told the participants that the pursuit of quality higher education paves the way toward a better future.
Also present were ambassadors and representatives from the participating EU member states: Ambassador Michel Goffin, Embassy of Belgium; Ambassador Nicholas Galey, Embassy of France; Ambassador Saskia de Lang, Embassy of the Netherlands; Jana Peterkova, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Czech Republic; David Ambrus, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Hungary; Kai Tomzig, First Secretary for Cultural Affairs, Embassy of Germany; Luis Morales, First Secretary, Embassy of Spain; Alessandro Milani, General Manager, Philippine Italian Association; Christina Stieber, Commercial Counsellor, Advantage Austria; and Athena Cartagena, Communications Officer, Embassy of Sweden.
Aside from country presentations, the virtual fair also featured webinar sessions that gave participants a closer interaction with their chosen European schools.
Virtual meeting rooms were also set up between EU higher education institutions and their local counterparts, providing more opportunities for linkages and partnerships.
The two-day fair also recorded a first - as institutions were engaged as partners: Wesleyan University (Luzon), Silliman University (Visayas), and Xavier University –Ateneo de Cagayan (Mindanao) hosted clustered presentations for interested students and educators alike in their respective regions. Other university partners included De La Salle University, Rizal Technological University, Mindanao State University, Mabalacat City College, St. Louis University Baguio, Tarlac Agricultural University, Ateneo de Davao, Notre Dame - Tacurong College, Cebu Technological University, and University of The Cordilleras.
Notable EU alumni, goodwill ambassadors, and *Erasmus+ scholars also helped out by providing testimonials and tips about studying and living in the EU.
EHEF 2020 is organized by the Delegation of the European Union to the Philippines, together with EU Member States’ Embassies in partnership with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and supported by media partners Business Mirror –Envoys & Expats, Business World Spark Up, Gadgets Magazine, Roots and Wings Online, Sub Selfie, The Philippine Business and News, and When in Manila.
*Erasmus+ Programme is the scholarship and mobility programme of the EU which provides opportunities for people to share their knowledge nd experience at institutions nd organisations in different countries. It also provides opportunities for a wide range of organisations, including universities, education and training providers, think-tanks, research organisations and private businesses.
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