EUA : European University Association

EUA Prague Convention: Leading economists to discuss impact of economic crisis on universities

It is set to be a crucial few months for the future of European higher education. Not only are universities and higher education institutions across the continent faced with the uncertainty of the impact of the economic crisis and the impact it could have on their long-term funding and sustainability, but the very future of higher education cooperation in Europe will be debated at a meeting of education ministers and stakeholder organisations who will gather in Belgium in April (for the Bologna process ministerial meeting).

These two issues – the financial crisis and the future of the Bologna process - will be at the top of the agenda for the 500 university leaders and leading policy makers gathering at Charles University in Prague for the fifth EUA Convention of Higher Education Institutions from March 19 to 21.

The conference will open with a presentation by the EU Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth, Ján Figel’. This will be followed by keynote presentations from two eminent international economists: Professors André Sapir and Jo Ritzen, who have been asked to discuss how the recent downturn and ensuing governmental reaction in terms of stimuli packages may affect the higher education and research sector both in the short and the long term.

Professor Sapir is a Senior Fellow at Bruegel (a leading Brussels-based think tank) and author of the recent report 'Higher Aspirations: An agenda for reforming European Universities'. Professor Ritzen (President of Maastricht University) is a former vice-president of the World Bank's Development Economics Department and was Minister of Education, Culture, and Science in The Netherlands.

Geoffrey Boulton of the University of Edinburgh will then give a keynote presentation on the future challenges facing European higher education. This will be followed by a series of break-out sessions focussing on some of the key challenges facing Europe’s universities.

University leaders at the Convention will be asked to contribute to identifying ‘10 theses’ for the future of European higher education and research looking forward to 2020. These will then be presented to Education Ministers taking part in the Bologna process Ministerial meeting that will be held on 28-29 April in Leuven and Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.

The Convention is certainly the most important event in EUA’s 2009 calendar. To ensure that all participants have the opportunity to join in the discussions and make a real impact on EUA’s policy and future work programme, please register today to avoid disappointment.

Please visit the conference website for further information on the conference programme.

EUA monitors impact of economic crisis on European universities

Following an informal exchange on this issue with EUA’s 34 National Rectors’ Conferences in January, EUA is now encouraging its members to forward any relevant information on the impact of the economic downturn.

It is clear from early feedback that there is currently a wide variety of situations across Europe and that could change in the coming weeks and months. While in some countries, it is too early to note any direct impact on universities, it is clear that some national HE sectors already fear difficult times ahead. Meanwhile, EUA has also seen that there have been proactive approaches from universities to promote their role in economic recovery. The British University sector (through Universities UK) for example has implemented a communication campaign promoting the role of universities in helping business in times of economic downturn ('Standing Together').

National governments also seem to be reacting in different ways; some have already announced or implemented budget cuts for higher education (Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland), while others have reacted by increasing the level of available funds (Denmark, France), especially in matters of infrastructure expenditure (Germany, Switzerland), as part of national stimulus packages. EUA also understands that some countries are in the process of implementing reforms, which makes it more difficult to announce new measures (Finland, Switzerland).

Finally, it is clear that is a general concern from university leaders over the degree of commitment of the business sector in their financial cooperation with universities, and a view that the economic downturn may decrease the funding coming from private sources.

The results of this monitoring will feed into the association’s new project: European Universities Diversifying Income Streams and into discussions at the EUA Convention in Prague (please see story above). Please send any relevant information on these topics to project officer Enora Pruvot.

Please download here a snapshot of the impact of economic crisis on European universities based on information collected from EUA’s National Rectors’ Conferences.

2nd Annual Meeting of the EUA Council for Doctoral Education (EUA-CDE) University of Lausanne, Switzerland (4-5 June 2009)

The EUA-Council for Doctoral Education (EUA-CDE) is pleased to announce that registrations will soon open for its 2nd Annual Meeting to be held at the University of Lausanne on 4-5 June 2009.

Since the inclusion of doctoral studies as the third cycle of the Bologna process, European universities have engaged in a far-reaching reform of their doctoral programmes. The ambition of the EUA-CDE is to provide those institutions engaged in the reforms with a place to meet and exchange ideas and experiences.
The Annual Meeting will provide the possibility to discuss further the issues that the EUA-CDE has touched upon during the last year:  including supervision of PhD candidates, research careers, internationalisation and data collection as well as providing a forum for thoughts about the future challenges for doctoral education. It will be an occasion to analyse the rapid reforms of European doctoral programmes, to raise ideas and opinions about the future.
The structure of the conference will include plenary sessions and thematic discussion groups to allow the broadest possible sharing of practices and ideas. There will be open spaces for debates and exchange and the possibility to make concrete proposals to contribute to the future activities of the EUA Council for Doctoral Education.
For those institutions that are unfamiliar with the EUA-CDE and its activities, this conference will provide the opportunity to network with colleagues from the 120 EUA-CDE members and other doctoral/graduate schools.
Further information about the event and registrations will be published on the event website.

Second European University-Business Forum, Brussels (5-6 February 2009)

Organised by the European Commission’s Directorate for Education and Culture, the second edition of the University-Business Forum on 5/6 February aimed at deepening the dialogue on potential benefits and limits of university-business cooperation.

The topics addressed in this year’s edition included: modernising governance structures within universities, curriculum development, entrepreneurship, continuing education and lifelong learning, knowledge transfer and mobility. EUA played an active role in discussions and debates throughout the meeting.

EUA Board Member, Prof. Tadeusz Luty, highlighted in the opening round table that “the global economic crisis should be an opportunity for universities and business to work more closely to improve the European Higher Education and Research Areas” and that it was necessary to commit to creating more synergies and develop an operational culture for increased cooperation while accommodating the core missions, values and legitimate interests of both communities.

He also stressed it was important is for universities to embrace lifelong learning, as a distinctive European feature, taking account of the European Universities’ Charter on Lifelong Learning. The Charter was presented by Project Officer Michael Hörig in the workshop on continuing education and lifelong learning. Senior Programme Manager, Dr. Lidia Borrell-Damian also chaired the session on mobility, which included case studies of mobility schemes owned by business, university and intermediary public-private bodies.

Amongst the key issues discussed at the meeting were:

•    the recognition of the value of university-business cooperation in shaping the curriculum and developing the entrepreneurship spirit of students;
•    the importance for universities to embrace lifelong learning and develop strategies in partnership with businesses;
•    the need for universities to develop leadership models to modernise governance structures;
•    encouraging and recognising the mobility of students and researchers with all its different modalities while monitoring its quality and making related legal frameworks more flexible;
•    exploring ways to encourage more creativity and innovation in higher education.

The Commission will incorporate the results of this year's Forum in a Communication on University-Business cooperation, which will be presented in April 2009.

The international impact of Bologna: Canadian universities discuss the challenges and opportunities of Bologna process

On the 26-27 January the Association of Universities and Colleges in Canada (AUCC) organised a symposium for its members together with representatives from Europe, the US, Australia and Mexico to discuss the challenges and opportunities arising from the Bologna process. EUA was represented by Senior Programme Manager Michael Gaebel who participated in the opening panel session.

The symposium followed an AUCC statement of June 2008 acknowledging the significance of the emerging European Higher Education Area and the need to further enhance Canada-Europe cooperation.

It brought together vice presidents and senior international relations officers for a targeted debate on Canada’s response to the Bologna process within an international context.

The impact of Bologna on international student recruitment and recognition of European degree programmes were among the issues discussed, however the focus of the event was clearly whether or not Bologna could be a stimulus for innovation and a driver for convergence within Canada. Participants discussed whether any of the instruments used in the Bologna process such as the Credit transfer system and diploma supplement could be of use for enhancing intra-Canadian and Canada’s international mobility and cooperation. Interuniversity cooperation and joint degrees were also issues of strong interest amongst all participants.

Please click here to read in the University Affairs magazine an article on recent Bologna reactions in Canada. It presents the take-away messages from the recent AUCC Bologna Symposium.