MEHR - UKÄ's European Human Rights project completed

UKÄ has for three years coordinated the European project Modernisation, Education, and Human Rights in Higher Education (MEHR). The project, which has now been completed, has aimed to develop the work on learning objectives on human rights in higher education.

The MEHR project has aimed at developing the work on human rights learning objectives in higher education both nationally and at European level. The project has been funded by the EU programme Erasmus+ and is a collaboration between quality assurance organisations and universities in Sweden, Croatia and Portugal, and the European Students' Union (ESU), umbrella organisation for Europe's national student associations.

It is the first time UKÄ has led an international project of this kind, and the collaboration between partner organisations from different countries and educational traditions has offered many thought-provoking experiences and insights.

- Despite sometimes different starting points and despite the fact that higher education is organised in different ways in the participating countries, the partnership has been characterised by a desire for mutual understanding and a strong commitment to the importance of quality assurance of learning objectives in education on human rights, says Ulf Hedbjörk, who together with Kristina Tegler Jerselius coordinated the project. Students must have the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills required in working life, and develop a readiness to intervene professionally when human rights are violated.

Different focus in different countries

Each participating country in the project was represented by an educational institution, an organisation specialised in quality assurance of higher education, and the ESU. In Sweden, together with Karolinska Institutet, UKÄ has studied how various education programmes in medicine and social welfare address men's violence against women and domestic violence as well as violence against children. In Portugal, the focus has been on intercultural skills in the country's law and geography education, and in Croatia the focus has been on teacher education and issues of active citizenship and children’s participation.

Surveys in the participating countries in the MEHR project have resulted in three reports in the selected areas of human rights. In addition, a final comparative report has been produced that specifically emphasises quality assurance of learning objectives and the student perspective. Finally, a selection of short student vox pop videos give voice to the student perspective at the centre of the MEHR project.

Among the common conclusions from the various country reports produced by the MEHR project are:

  • National legislation and government initiatives are important for the development of human rights learning objectives
  • Learning objectives on human rights should be formalised so that the link between learning objectives and examination becomes clear
  • Human rights education must be firmly rooted in research and proven experience
  • Teachers’ commitment and competence in human rights are of crucial importance, hence the need for support and time for teachers' competence development and development work
  • Human rights education provides good opportunities to develop methods for student-centred learning and to stimulate students' critical thinking and intercultural competence