The 26th EAN Annual Conference


Sharing stories of empowerment:

Creating new strategies for diversity and inclusion in higher education

Wednesday 20th - Friday 22nd September 2017

Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Germany

Hosted by, Germany's largest network for first generation students


Conference Theme and Objectives

Diversity is often seen as a source of problems in higher education. A deficit-focused perspective prevails in stories of so-called “non-traditional” students. Students themselves tend to talk about their weaknesses and failures instead of their strengths, achievements and contributions. What if we looked at it the other way around? What if diversity was not the problem but the solution ?

The stories we tell ourselves create our reality, they turn into self-fulfilling prophecies. To achieve equality in higher education we need to change our perspective and share stories that value different backgrounds and emphasize strengths of non-traditional students.

The goal of this conference is to create, share and evaluate strategies for diversity in higher education:  

-  How can we change the perception of diversity from a problem to a solution?

-  How can we change the focus from deficit to potential?

-  How can we spread stories of empowerment in higher education?

-  How can we encourage students to tell their own stories in an empowering way?

-  Which teaching and learning methods are best suited to the strength-based approach?

During the conference we will collect our participants’ policy recommendations, summarize them and communicate them to the Directorate General for Education and Culture of the European Union and to policy making bodies of German higher education institutions.


This conference would not be possible without the support of our partners, donors and volunteers. We are grateful for the support of Justus Liebig University and for a United Way Worldwide grant on behalf of the generosity of FedEx.



Conference Programme

Download the latest conference programme.

Parallel Paper Sessions & Workshops Schedule here. 

Wednesday, September 20th 2017

9:30 - 10:30 am

Registration & Coffee

10:30 - 11:30 am

Welcome & Introduction

Prof Dr Joybrato Mukherjee, President of Justus Liebig University Giessen, Germany

Facilitator: Barbara Bosch

11:30 - 12:00 am

Kick-Off-Workshop - Sharing Best Practices

12:00 - 12:45 am

Lunch Break

12:45 - 2:10 pm

Plenary session: Diversity in Higher Education: Who needs to join the conversation? 
(Strand 4)

2:10 - 2:30 pm

Coffee Break

2:30 - 3:30 pm

Keynote: Making Diversity Happen! 
Prof. Dr. Andrea Bührmann, Vice-President Study and Teaching, 
University of Göttingen, Germany

3:30 - 4:30 pm

Parallel Workshops: Diversity in Higher Education: Problem or Solution?

(Strand 1)

4:30 - 5:00 pm

Coffee Break

5:00 - 6:00 pm

Plenum: Sharing Stories of Empowerment

  • Prof Dr Monika Huesmann, Berlin School of Economics and Law
  • Wadhaa Al Obaidi, Kiron Open HE, Iraq/Germany
  • Jimmy Ray Shepherd, FedEx, USA/Germany
  • Imran Uddin, Member of EAN Executive Committee, Director of Education & Student Policies, Artevelde University College, Belgium

7:00 - 9:00 pm

Welcome Reception at the Children’s Museum „Mathematikum“,

including Poster Presentation (all strands)

Thursday, September 21th 2017

8:30 - 9:00 am

Arrival & Coffee

8:45 - 9:00 am

Wake Up! (optional)

9:00 - 09:40 am

Plenum: Welcome & Keynote

Widening Participation to Higher Education in Europe: Selected Results of the Eurydice Report Structural Indicatiors on HE in Europe - 2016

Jari Riiheläinen, European Commission's Executive Agency for Education, Audiovisual and Cultue (EAEAC), Belgium 

9:45 - 10:25 am

Parallel Paper Sessions I: Diversity in HE: Problem or Solution (Strand 1)

10:25 - 10:30 am

Transition Time

10:30 - 11:10 pm

Parallel Paper Sessions II: Diversity in HE: Problem or Solution (Strand 1)

11:10 - 11:25 pm

Coffee Break

11:25 - 12:15 pm

Maggie Woodrow Memorial Lecture

Turning gaps into GEP (Gender Equality Plans): Lessons for Equality and Diversity from Trinity College Dublin

Prof. Eileen Drew, 
Director of TCGEL, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

12:15 - 1:15 pm

Lunch Break

1:15 - 3:30 pm

Plenary Session: Equal Access to HE in Immigrant Societies (Strand 2)

Keynote: Access to HE for Immigrant/Refugee Students: Hurdles and Opportunities

Kees Smit, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Presentations & Input by: 

  • Prof Dr Monika Jungbauer-Gans and Sebastian Lang (German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies, Germany)
  • Valerie Marragou (Passeport Avenir, France)
  • Ronny Roewert (Kiron Open Higher Education, Germany)

3:30 - 4:00 pm

Coffee Break

4:00 - 4:40 pm

Parallel Paper Sessions III:
Diversity in HE: Problem or Solution? (Strand 1)
Equal access to HE in immigrant and refugee socieities (Strand 2)

4:40 - 5:00 pm

Coffee Break

5:00 - 5:30 pm 


5:30 - 6:00 pm

AGM (EAN Board)

7:00 - 9:00 pm

Conference Dinner, Restaurant heyligenstaedt

Friday, September 22nd 2017

8:30 - 9:00 am

Arrival & Coffee

9:00 - 11:30 am

Plenary Session and World Café Workshop - Student finance systems and their impact on access and success (Strand 3)

Keynote by Chiara Patricolo, European Student Union 

11:30 - 11:45 am

Coffee Break

11:45 - 12:45 pm

Plenum & Closing Remarks

12:45 pm




Conference Fees and Registration

Registrations are now open!

To register please follow this link to the e-store of the University of Edinburgh (EAN's new host).

Conference fees available here.

Practical Information

Directions to the EAN Giessen conference

Discounted hotel rates for EAN conference delegates are available at several 3- and 4-star hotels in Giessen. Click here for a list of hotels and instructions on how to book, including deadlines for reduced rates.

Conference mailing list

Interested in this event? Sign-up to our mailing list to be informed as soon as conference updates become available.

For any event-related queries please contact the conference team at


University of Giessen, host of the EAN 26th Annual Conference

Founded in 1607, Justus Liebig University Giessen (JLU) is a research university with a long-standing tradition which attracts more than 28,000 students. Its commitment to diversity and the development of international programmes makes it a perfect host for this year's EAN conference, which will look into current factors and dynamics that influence the social dimension of HE and the educational gap within the European Union.

You can read the statement from Prof. Dr. Mukherjee, President of the Justus-Liebig-University here.




The EAN Secretariat, European Access Network
Lawrence Building, University of Roehampton, Roehampton Lane, London SW15 5PJ, United Kingdom
Email: ,Tel: +44 (0) 20 8392 3857, Fax: +44 (0) 20 8392 3148