By A. J. Boyd
On Friday, 11 March, The Lay Centre, in collaboration with the Rome Centre of The Catholic University of America and Australian Catholic University, was host to a first-of-its-kind networking forum of Catholic higher education in Rome. The meeting was chaired by Rev Frederich Bechina, undersecretary for the Holy See’s Congregation for Catholic Education, and Dr Luca Lantero, director of Information Center on Academic Mobility and Equivalence (CIMEA).
More than twenty participants represented three sectors of Catholic higher education active in Italy:
- Italian Catholic universities and institutions;
- Pontifical/ecclesiastical universities, athenae, and institutes;
- U.S. and other foreign Catholic universities with programs or campuses in Italy.
From the Italian Catholic universities were three administrators from LUMSA, a “free” (semi-private) Italian Catholic university. Seven of the 23 pontifical higher education institutions in Rome were present, including a representative of the Conference of Rectors of the Pontifical Roman Universities (CRUPR). Likewise, seven U.S. and other international universities with study abroad programs in Italy were represented.
As the first opportunity for many of these three groups to engage each other, much of the time was spent introducing institutions, their mission, and their interests in Italy. Dr. Lantero introduced the work of CIMEA, the Italian agency responsible for managing academic transferability and recognition of foreign qualifications, in collaboration with a network of similar institutes internationally. He addressed opportunities and challenges for collaboration and student mobility in Rome from an Italian and European perspective.
Fr. Bechina addressed the same topic of opportunities and challenges for collaboration and student mobility, but from the Vatican perspective. He started by noting the distinction between pontifical, or ecclesiastical, institutions of higher education on one hand and Catholic colleges and universities on the other.
While a few exemplary joint events have already been organized between institutions here and there, the hope is for a more systematic synergy bringing in gifts of all three systems, and providing better opportunities for students to make the best of their time in Rome, to move more easily between institutions, and for their work to be recognized in full in each system.
Photo: Hansol Goo