In Latin America (LA), there have been a number of initiatives in the last decade that have aimed at higher education integration, harmonisation, and enhancing cooperation and exchange with Europe. Alfa PUENTES differs in that it focuses on national and regional collective stakeholders, and their role in the politically driven EU-LAC Common Higher Education and Knowledge Area (ALCUE), particularly as interlocutors between their member universities and governments.
The project built upon existing sub-regional convergence processes in LA, articulated by the Andean Community, the Mercosur region and Central America/ Mexico. Mutual learning activities between LA and European associations and their members targeted quality assurance reform, enhancing recognition of degrees, building qualifications frameworks and increasing academic mobility. The project looked to build wider regional convergence from the bottom up, utilising the sub-regional experience as a building block. It aimed simultaneously at generating stronger working relationships between European and LA associations.
Developed over three years, the project consisted of a region wide survey of university leadership and faculty in LA that provided comparable data on how universities are currently reforming teaching, research, internationalisation, quality assurance, and governance/management.
In the second phase of the project, sub-regional initiatives were be taken-up, driven by the associations of the specific sub-region:
- Building a quality assurance and recognition framework for the Andean Community;
- Building an internationalisation and mobility strategy for the ‘Mercosur’ region;
- Towards a qualifications framework for Central America
European partners supported the initiatives, and shared their respective experience under the European Bologna Process where appropriate. Transversal activities, such as two major Europe-LA university association conferences and bi-lateral networking activities for European and LA associations, were also incorporated throughout the project.
Alfa PUENTES brings together six associations from Europe (led by EUA, and including national associations from France (CPU), Germany (HRK), Spain (CRUE), Poland (CRASP) and Portugal (CRUP)) together with partners across LA, as well as OBREAL and the SGroup. Each association has a respective history of cooperation with Latin America, and utilised the project to deepen and broaden higher education internationalisation and bi-regional dialogue.