Day 1 Thursday, 7 September
The garagErasmus XI Annual Meeting, held at the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) University, kicked off with an insightful public conference in line with the European Year of Skills. Moderated by Carlo Bitetto, Network Manager of garagErasmus Foundation, the conference set the stage for a series of keynote presentations.
Francesco Cappè, President of garagErasmus Foundation, took the audience through the history of the organisation, underlining its commitment to promoting greater mobility, supporting a more open and integrated Europe, and introduced Fabrizio Bitetto as the next President of the Board.
Hon. Clifton Grima, Minister for Education and Sport, Malta, led a profound discussion on competences, emphasising the need for both practical competences and ethical values to be European citizens. He stressed that Erasmus and garagErasmus have a crucial role to play in developing these competences and values.
Charles Zammit, Chairman of Education Malta, spoke about Malta’s role as a prominent Erasmus destination and its commitment to supporting international education. He spoke about the Year of Skills and the opportunities it offers young people.
Tatjana Chircop, Deputy Principal Administration, MCAST, presented MCAST’s ambitious growth and wide range of courses.
David Fernandez Puyana, Permanent Observer of the United Nations University for Peace, spoke about the role of education in promoting mutual respect, understanding and peace. He stressed that Erasmus opens up new opportunities and plays a crucial role in conflict prevention.
Rose Anne Cuschieri, CEO of Malta Further & Higher Education Authority, presented guidelines for the recognition of non-formal education in Malta, the expansion and quality assurance of higher education in Malta and the value of informal learning. Both her organisation and garagErasmus share a common goal: the recognition of non-formal and work-based learning.
The conference concluded with the signing of an important Memorandum of Understanding between garagErasmus and the SAE Group, represented by Alberto Leonardis, head of the SAE Group, which marks a joint effort to give voice to the Erasmus generation through an ambitious editorial project.
Another important MoU was signed shortly after, when garagErasmus Foundation was pleased to welcome the city of Baku in its network of gE4Cities with the representative Elmar Guliyev, marking the creation of gE4Baku.
The day also included the presentation of the garagErasmus Annual Report and Work Plan, followed by an interactive Q&A session. Discussions focused on strengthening the network and shaping the future of garagErasmus, including a thought-provoking discussion with Mr Evarist Bartolo, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and former Minister of Education, Malta. Mr Bartolo emphasised that addressing the skills gap should include a focus on values and ethics, as a narrow definition of skills is insufficient to address the significant challenges facing the EU.
Day 2 Friday, 8 September
The second day of the garagErasmus XI Annual Meeting started with the presentation of garagErasmus guests and gE4s, and continued with discussions on ErasmusCity and student housing. gE’s new president Fabrizio Bitetto and Maria Teresa Gullace, Researcher at Politecnico di Milano and project manager of Home Of Mobile Europeans project, looked at the challenges and opportunities associated with student accommodation, an often underestimated but crucial aspect of international student life.
Maria Teresa highlighted the fundamental need for affordable and quality housing solutions for mobile students and stressed the importance of policies and regulations as the first approach to consider when addressing student accommodation. The role of universities in bridging the gap between students and the housing market was a key point of discussion. Participants also explored ways in which universities can work with associations that help students find suitable accommodation. The day concluded with discussions on gE’s mission, upcoming campaigns, sharing of best practice and plans for future meetings.
In conclusion, the garagErasmus XI annual meeting served as a platform for meaningful dialogue, cooperation and sharing of best practices in international education. It brought together gE members, educators, policy makers and Erasmus alumni who are committed to promoting international education and fostering a more integrated Europe. As garagErasmus looks to the future, it remains steadfast in its mission to empower the Erasmus generation and shape the future of international education.