The second edition of the “Higher Education European Networking Summit” organized by the garagErasmus Foundation took place in Milan on 16-17 November, 2023 at the Palazzo delle Stelline, hosted by the European Parliament Liaison Office in Milan, which collaborated with the organization and discussion. 

The event aimed to bring together Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) for a comprehensive dialogue on the latest updates in Erasmus+ and critical challenges faced by international offices. The summit tackled pressing issues such as microcredentials, housing, finding partners for new European projects, and fostering meaningful networking opportunities.

The opening of the summit was led by Fabrizio Bitetto, President of garagErasmus Foundation, who set the stage for two days of insightful discussions.

Maurizio Molinari, Head of Office at the European Parliament in Milan, then engaged the audience in an interactive discussion on the crucial role of Higher Education Institutions in boosting youth participation in the upcoming 2024 European Elections. The session was followed by a vibrant Q&A.

Vito Borrelli, Erasmus+ Programme Leader at DG EAC, European Commission, subsequently led an open discussion on assessing the effectiveness and performance of the Erasmus+ program.

The day continued with a session introducing the garagErasmus Foundation, allowing participants to familiarize themselves with the organization. A World Café followed where HEI got the opportunity to share diverse perspectives, insights and best practices on five different topics such as network affiliations, ongoing and past projects, inclusive initiatives, relations with companies, and upcoming campaigns.

It was then the time for the Laissez-Passer of the Erasmus Generation contest, where five finalists and Erasmus alumni, selected by garagErasmus and social media audiences, got the chance to present their social innovation projects to the HEIs for the opportunity to win €3000,00 to kickstart their dream. The declared winner was Nelly Adjoa Sakyi-Hagan for the project “Empowering Girls through Menstrual Hygiene Awareness” in Ghana.

The day concluded with Roberto Matina, Gruppo SAE, who, together with Carlo Bitetto, Network Manager of garagErasmus, introduced the upcoming ambitious project of Gruppo SAE and garagErasmus which will see the creation of an online portal dedicated to Erasmus students and alumni. The portal will include personal experiences, guidelines, helpful tips and much more, all dedicated to one of the best experiences European students encounter in their academic lives. The intervention served also to gather recommendations and insights from HEIs, that could share their insighful perspective on the matter.

The second day was kickstarted once again by Fabrizio Bitetto who presented garagErasmus flagship project “Erasmus City” which represents a new solution to the lack of housing in big cities such as Milan. The discussion was enriched by Maria Teresa Gullace of the HOME project.

Simone Ravaioli of Parchment and Director Global Ecosystem and Innovation, Advisory Board member EWP, and Marco Mazzini, co-founder and board member of garagErasmus, delved into the principles and technologies for microcredentials in the EU Year of Skills. The session saw HEIs representatives dividing into groups to design an Erasmus+ Open Badge from scratch according to the rules and principles just acquired. 

Finally, Fabrizio Bitetto outlined the garagErasmus Foundation’s next steps and campaigns for the year 2024, providing a roadmap for the organization’s future initiatives.

The “Higher Education European Networking Summit” served as a melting pot of ideas, solutions, and collaborative efforts. From addressing youth participation in European elections to evaluating the Erasmus+ program and exploring innovative solutions for housing and microcredentials, the summit provided a platform for Higher Education Institutions to contribute to the shaping of the future of international education.