Benefits of Membership
We believe the benefits of membership are many and powerful. Here are the main ones:
Strength in numbers
A key benefit of AEC membership is the connection it offers to nearly 300 similar institutions working with similar ambitions, challenges and concerns. Conservatoires are often small institutions within their own national higher education landscapes and their voice as individuals can sometimes be overlooked. Being within the AEC membership network means sharing a platform from which the interests and concerns of higher music education can be broadcast loudly and clearly.
AEC provides channels through which members institutions can share information with one another and find suitable partners with whom to work on projects and events. The AEC Office Team also regularly distributes news, advice and information of general relevance to all its members. Through its extensive and growing databases of information, AEC can provide the kinds of statistics and data about European higher music education that institutions increasingly need for their own dialogues with ministries, funders, quality assurance agencies, etc.
The core activity of the AEC from its foundation has been helping those who work in conservatoires to meet each other, away from the busy demands of their normal routines and in environments designed to stimulate reflection, discussion and, fresh ideas. AEC now organises as many as five meetings for its members in each year, each tuned to particular groups and interests. Here is a brief summary; more information can be found on the AEC website:
Each year in November, the AEC Annual Congress takes place in a different country, during which representatives of all member institutions meet to discuss specific themes, to exchange information and to broaden their professional and personal networks. The AEC Annual Congress is also used as a platform to inform AEC members about the work done in the AEC projects and about the latest developments in higher education at European level. The annual General Assembly of AEC members is another important part of the annual congress, including the Information Forum.
Another event organised by the AEC each year, is the Annual Meeting for International Relations Coordinators in European Conservatoires. The meeting is meant for administrative or teaching staff members in European conservatoires who deal with international relations and European programmes (such as ERASMUS), as well as for institutions not familiar with these programmes, but who have an interest to become involved.
These can be related to a specific European project or to a particular genre or topic in higher music education. AEC currently runs three Platforms of this kind: the AEC Pop and Jazz Platform, the AEC Early Music Platform and the European Platform for Artistic research in Music (EPARM).
AEC has been deliberately proâ€active in engaging with the higher education reforms instituted by Education Ministers across Europe in the Bologna Process. The AEC philosophy is that it is better for these processes to be carried out by people who understand music – i.e. the musicians themselves – and this means that groundâ€breaking work has taken place within the framework of a series of AECâ€led projects. Many individuals from AEC member institutions have now become experts in their own right in matters such as learning outcomes, competences, quality assurance, etc. as a result of their participation in these activities, and the process continues with new projects.
AEC now has a significant catalogue of published handbooks and other documents designed specifically to be of use to member institutions and staff working in them. The authors are generally from precisely this background themselves and know from their own situations what is relevant and what is not. This catalogue is being added to all the time and, wherever possible, versions in English, German and French – and sometimes other European languages as well – are produced. When new publications appear, they are distributed in relevant languages to members, and a selection of all publications is on display at every AEC event.
Recognising the value of the specialist knowledge now held amongst its members, AEC holds registers of individuals and their expertise. Members can draw upon these to find suitable experts for counselling visits and other forms of advice. At times when it receives funding for this, AEC is even able to help with financial and logistical arrangements for such visits.
Many conservatoires are now going through accreditation processes and these will become a recurrent part of the quality assurance cycle. AEC has developed speciallyâ€tailored quality enhancement procedures which member institutions can use either independently of their formal reviews or, often, in conjunction with them. AEC has now collaborated with national accreditation agencies in several European countries on joint accreditation procedures.