Partners and experts with complementary expertise in the field of policy, social dimension and mental health implement the project activities.

Support Centre Inclusive Higher Education (SIHO - Belgium)

The Support Centre Inclusive Higher Education (SIHO) is embedded by decree and is cooperation between the Flemish government and the university associations. SIHO serves both policy makers and higher education institutions in the development and implementation of equity and inclusion measures for inclusive higher education. It has extensive expertise in the policy domain, e.g. writing policy papers, advising the government, translating policy advices into practice.

Why participate in the project?

SIHO considers social dimension as an important lever to strengthen society and promote social justice. SIHO is developing universities' and policy makers’ knowledge and expertise through projects that involve and benefit individual institutions while underpinning policy development. SIHO is involved in several Erasmus+ inclusion projects on policy development and policy support. It has vast experience developing frameworks and guidelines.

Our role in the project

SIHO's main responsibilities include:

  • Participate as an active member of the Transnational Steering Group

  • Organise peer-learning activities and provide guidance and input for the preparation of the four peer-learning activities (PLAs); participate in the PLAs; provide input on the PLA report

  • Lead the development of the PAGs toolkit and the mental health framework

  • Provide guidance and input during the different phases (desk research, focus groups, design/revision web portal, implementation) of the development and testing of the ‘Central web portal'

  • Lead the dissemination and communication activities regarding the PLAR-U-PAGs project, including organising the final conference

Our project team

For PLAR-U-PAGs, SIHO has nominated staff with extensive experience in peer learning activities, project management and social dimension:

Valérie Van Hees

Coordinator - Project manager PLAR-U-PAGs

Valérie Van Hees is the coordinator of the Support Centre for Inclusive Higher Education (SIHO) in Belgium. At SIHO, she forms a bridge between policy and practice on a daily basis, being a point of contact for both the Flemish government and HEI management staff regarding the implementation of equity and inclusion measures. With over 20 years of experience in the field of policy and inclusion in higher education, she is also the project manager of the European project PLAR-U-PAGs. She authored European reports on social dimension as well as a framework self-assessment tool and a training package to support higher education authorities and institutions in implementing sustainable inclusion strategies at institutional and national level. At national level she coordinated the project ‘Strengthening student mental health during and in aftermath of the pandemic’ and the development of MoodSpace.

Valerie Mertens

Project officer - Project associate PLAR-U-PAGs

Valerie Mertens has a bachelor in Social work and a master's degree in Sociology. She works at the Support Centre Inclusive Higher Education (SIHO) as a Project Officer on the topic inclusive higher education. She has developed online training packages on the topic of inclusive mobility and universal design. She started at SIHO as a project officer on the topic of student mental health.