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ICT will play an ever more important role in the thinking of the definition of higher education access, life-long learning and quality assurance measures in the emerging contexts of real and virtual environments. These issues were discussed in the annual Education Leaders Forum (ELF) held by Microsoft at the renowned Pasteur Institute in Paris. The Maltese Government participated for the second consecutive year with a delegation composed of the Director General for Quality and Standards in Education Dr Grace Grima, the Director for Curriculum Management and e-Learning Mr Ray Camilleri, the Chairman for the National Commission for Higher Education Dr Philip von Brockdorff and the CEO for the National Commission for Higher Education Mr Jacques Sciberras. The delegation was accompanied by Ms Fabianne Ruggier, the Academic Programme Manager for Microsoft Malta.

The Education Leaders Forum was held back-to-back with UNESCO's World Conference on Higher Education at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. Hundreds of Ministers and policy-makers attended the UNESCO conference, which was a follow-up convention after 10 years, to discuss how government and higher education institutions should strategise their education policies to meet the current and emerging dynamics of sustainable socio-economic development. The delegates stayed over for the full day organised by Microsoft debating the policies that worldwide governments and higher education institutions should adopt for the coming years to close-down the gap between the supply of higher education and the demand of the industry for building new skills. Panel experts and Microsoft executives highlighted the role of ICT in the potential transformation of Higher Education and the role of multi-stakeholder partnerships in supporting this transformation. Microsoft also held a 'lean forward' meeting, involving ministers, senior policy-advisors and universities rectors in evaluating current policies and re-visioning these strategies for recovery through collaborative round-tables. During the meeting, Microsoft raised awareness on its free and low cost resources to help ministries and institutions in planning and retooling for the current needs of their learners, economies and societies.

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