By Lucy Kelly
ENLIGHT is a European network of 3rd level institutes that are working towards a more equitable quality of life through the development and transformation of higher education across Europe. Currently there is nine universities involved in the network, including NUI Galway.
At the core of ENLIGHT’s aims is the transformation of higher education to empower learners to develop as engaged global citizens. Universities in the ENLIGHT network don’t want students to just graduate with your degree, rather they want students to graduate with the tools to be ‘lifelong learners and agents-of-change to tackle the challenges of tomorrow’.
As part of the network, a week-long programme of lectures and webinars among other events was held, that anyone in the University’s community could attend, to help spread information and increase the engagement in the programme. As a student I was intrigued and inspired by the events I got a chance to attend, as it really brought to the fore how much students can be empowered and involved in research and development of a more equitable future for our communities. Not, only this, it was fascinating to hear from other institutions and their approaches to transforming higher education in their context and communities.
ENLIGHT From A Students Perspective
As a student, I found it interesting that so much is being done on an international level to make higher level education more accessible and holistic in its approach. I found it interesting that the University community is engaging, developing, and collaborating with its surrounding community and further afield. The flagship lectures throughout the week explored how the network is working with their local communities to create a more equitable, sustainable, and open community for future generations.
One of the many events held focused on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #3, Global Engagement and Equity. From a student perspective, I found it resonated with me that both our college and the surrounding network of universities are making a conscious effort to create a more equitable future, in terms of further education and its contributions to the community. Hearing from several different perspectives on how to move forward with the SDG Goal three in mind, it brought focus on a local level on how each in our own way, we can bring equity and global engagement it many different aspects of our lives. As, students, we have a prime opportunity to fully develop as globally engaged graduates. There is serious potential for both personal and professional development in understanding that all aspects of university life has a role to play in transforming communities, not just in their specific aspects but also in making education more accessible, and the local community more equitable.
Another lecture focused on the future shaping impacts the Universities can have on the development of the surrounding communities. What stood out in the general theme of the lecture was the Universities’ dedication to sharing the journey of creating a brighter future. Four speakers brought different perspectives on how exactly communities and universities are working together to better and shape the future. While this work goes on in the backgrounds of our university lives, it is important to understand that Universities, as institutions do not exist in a vacuum, they have a symbiotic relationship with the communities surrounding. In terms of students, it is important to highlight the limitless possibilities of projects that can be developed from a student level upwards, in a research manner, that could lead to big changes across the different communities involved with ENLIGHT.
Overall, with the development of different programmes and networks that reach-out beyond the inner community of the campus, student engagement with the programmes are essential for the best outcomes. Because, of course, without students in higher education, there is no higher education!