Brussels, Belgium – On 9 and 10 March 2023, the STAND Workshop, centered around the theme of autonomy and institutional empowerment, took place at the European University Association (EUA) offices in Brussels. The workshop featured presentations and discussions to enhance participants’ collaboration and knowledge sharing on institutional empowerment, leadership, and open science in Western Balkans and European policy.

Day 1 of the workshop, held on Thursday afternoon, began with an introductory session hosted by EUA’s Thomas Estermann and IBC-M’s prof. Mihone Kerolli Mustafa, as an event coordinator. The opening session set the tone for the rest of the workshop, emphasizing the importance of autonomy in higher education institutions.

Thérèse Zhang, Deputy Director for Higher Education Policies, presented the outcomes and conclusions of the LOTUS project – “Leadership and Organisation for Teaching and Learning at European Universities.” This session showcased the importance of effective leadership in driving institutional autonomy and improving university teaching and learning practices.

The first day of the workshop concluded with a presentation on Open Science in the Western Balkans and European policy by prof. Mihone Kerolli Mustafa and Vinciane Gaillard. They both shared their views on this new concept, emphasizing the importance of sharing the results of publicly funded scientific research, data, and publications, making them freely accessible to all interested parties. The speakers also discussed various aspects of Open Science, such as open access to scientific journals, research data, infrastructure, methods, evaluation, education, and science for citizens.

On Friday morning, the second block of the workshop began with a presentation on leadership development programs by Thomas Estermann. The presentation focused on the strategies and approaches adopted by universities to enhance the skills and competencies of their leaders, ensuring effective governance and management.

Following Thomas Estermann’s presentation, the workshop proceeded with an “Action Plans presentation & discussion” and a Project Management meeting, both moderated by prof. Mihone Kerolli Mustafa. Participants had the opportunity to present their action plans, share ideas, and engage in discussions to enhance autonomy and empowerment in their respective institutions. The meeting allowed participants to discuss the next steps and plans for the STAND project, ensuring the continued growth and development of autonomy and institutional empowerment across European higher education institutions.

The STAND Workshop: Autonomy & Institutional Empowerment was an essential platform for project partners higher education sector to come together, share their experiences, and work towards a more autonomous, empowered, and collaborative future for Western Balkans universities. The event showcased the importance of open science, institutional autonomy, and leadership development in fostering a more inclusive, innovative, and competitive higher education landscape in Europe.