Diversity in modern society – Making inclusion a central strategy in our universities

In our multicultural societies, there is a richness of ideas, preferences, customs and viewpoints. This offers endless possibility for learning and growth. However, sometimes political and economic factors overshadow the opportunities that diversity brings with it. Universities can play a crucial role in countering this trend, and ensuring that such opportunities are recognised and that the potential of diversity is fully realised. But are universities prepared to go ‘that extra mile’ towards diversity and inclusion?

Join us on Thursday 16 November and Friday 17 November 2023 in Barcelona to discuss these and other questions. We will provide a unique opportunity for ULLL staff to engage in practical activities and wide-ranging discussions around the topic of diversity and inclusion in higher education. In addition, participants will have a chance to network with colleagues from across Europe and to present their own work on these topics during a poster session. Participants who wish to present their work during the seminar may also submit abstracts.

If you want to explore this year’s topic in more depth, plan your arrival earlier and join us for the SMILE Final Symposium! This event will overlap with the Autumn Seminar. We will create synergies and networking opportunities. Do not miss this chance! If you are interested in attending both events, please note that you must register for both activities. Thanks!

This year’s topic

We will focus on three main areas of inequity:

  • Migrant background students | What are the challenges they face? How do we adapt our curricula and our course material to help them? How prepared are universities to make flexible adjustments?
  • Women in leadership | Are our institutions genuinely gender-balanced? Are women given the chance to demonstrate their value and to live up to their full potential?
  • Low socio-economic status students | How are universities addressing attainment challenges of capable students with fewer economic means? Are our institutions identifying potential problems and putting in place mechanisms to help students?

Participants are encouraged on these areas at four different levels:

  1. Understanding diversity: Are university staff aware of the benefits of diversity and inclusion, and are they prepared to deal with the challenges of safeguarding it in their institutions? Are they familiar with the concept of intersectionality?
  2. Collaborating towards diversity: Do we have the necessary alliances to work toward more inclusive university communities? Are our institutions promoting cooperation with relevant stakeholders?
  3. Embedding diversity: Are we collecting and analysing data about diversity and our actions in this area? Are we using this data to review and modify existing approaches and to develop new strategies for inclusion?
  4. Facilitating diversity: Are our universities offering flexibility and supporting the needs of disadvantaged minority groups? Are we equipping our staff with the necessary tools and training to implement this flexibility? Do we seek funding opportunities for those with fewer resources?

We recommend that you read the SMILE Policy Recommendations, which synthesises the expertise and experiences of all the SMILE partners in this area.


The Autumn Seminar is structured to stimulate dialogue, gather new ideas and work together towards new projects and collaborations. We have allowed time for interaction and open discussion.

On the first day

This year you will have the opportunity to arrive earlier and start exploring the topic of diversity and inclusion in Higher Education on Thursday morning as part of the SMILE Final Symposium. After lunch the Autumn Seminar officially opens with a Dialogue between a researcher and a practitioner, followed by an open discussion among participants.

To end the day, a multicultural networking cocktail will give participants the opportunity to talk informally with peers, catch up with colleagues and form new connections with future collaborators. Afterwards participants will be shown to the restaurant for the seminar dinner to continue networking.

The session in the first afternoon will be live-streamed and recorded.

On the second day

You have the chance to present your work and discuss it with colleagues. The best works will have the chance to be awarded the SMILE Diversity Award 2023 – please, note that the awards will be presented to winners on Thursday morning. We recommend you to plan your participation accordingly. Send your abstracts following this link.

The workshops that follow will provide an opportunity to develop more concrete tools:

  • Room A. Planning of new proposals: work with colleagues on ideas for new proposals for EU calls
  • Room B. Co-design of a strategic policy paper for leaders: have your say in the call to action that eucen will be submitting to policy makers in Europe!

The day will finish with a presentation of the forthcoming 54th eucen conference in Cork (IE), 29-31 May 2024.

If you have any questions, please contact the eucen Secretariat at events@eucen.eu.