EUA : European University Association

EUA Prague Convention Special Edition

EUA elects new Board

During EUA’s Prague Convention (19-21 March) members of the association elected the following eight university leaders to serve on the next EUA Board:

•    David Drewry, University of Hull, UK
•    Jean-Pierre Finance, Université Henri Poincaré, Nancy 1, France
•    Lauritz Holm-Nielsen, University of Aarhus, Denmark
•    Tadeusz Luty, Wroclaw University of Technology, Poland
•    Maria Helena Nazaré, University of Aveiro, Portugal
•    Sijbolt Noorda, (The Association of Universities in the Netherlands - VSNU)
•    Giuseppe Silvestri, University of Palermo, Italy
•    Margret Wintermantel, (German Rectors’ Conference - HRK)

These eight candidates received the highest numbers of votes from the General Assembly held on the opening day of the Convention. The new EUA Board consists of the elected members and new EUA President, Professor Jean Marc Rapp – who officially took over from Professor Georg Winckler during the Convention and was warmly welcomed by EUA members.

EUA’s Board meets regularly, five or six times a year, and is responsible for the preparation and implementation of the Association's policy, the planning of its activities, and the overall organisation of its affairs.

The new EUA statutes, voted last year, foresee that four Board members shall be elected every two years, in order to guarantee continuation in its activities and ensure wide representation from university leaders across Europe. Given that the terms of office for all eight outgoing Board members ended in Prague, four Board members were exceptionally elected for a term of two years, while the four other Board members will be elected for a term of four years. This transition measure is necessary to allow the rhythm of elections as outlined above.

Moving towards the EUA Prague Declaration: Leaders underline key role of universities during economic downturn

The 500 university leaders who gathered at Charles University in Prague last week had a clear message for European governments. They called on them to invest in higher education during the economic and financial crisis and underlined that universities have a key role as a motor for economic recovery by providing the research based education at all levels needed to promote creativity and innovation.

Professor Jean-Marc Rapp, EUA President, told participants universities were a long term investment in Europe’s future; and while there may be a temptation to cut public spending during the downturn, it was important to reaffirm both the role of universities as a motor for economic recovery and their ability to respond to the expectations and needs of young Europeans.

These messages were reiterated by other plenary speakers at the event, and also by José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission. In a video address he told participants it would be a mistake to cut public and private spending on education and research as this could have a ‘direct negative impact’ on future growth. He also stressed that universities themselves could contribute directly to economic recovery by responding to changing labour market needs. Investing more in education and research would also help Europe emerge from recession faster and in better shape, he noted.

The theme of the Convention was European strategies for Europe’s universities – and university leaders debated a wide range of crucial issues for European universities against the background of the economic downturn. The outcomes and discussions of the Convention will be used to develop a ‘Prague Declaration’ that will include proposals to politicians to support specific action by universities that can make a major difference in helping Europe to beat recession. It will be drawn up by EUA’s governing Council on 3 April and presented to Europe’s 46 Education Ministers during the Bologna process Ministerial meeting taking place in Belgium on 28/29 April.

The Declaration will outline 10 key areas crucial for ensuring strong universities for a strong Europe in the future. For each of these areas, it will highlight not only the commitments that universities themselves need to make but will also include a series of calls for action from national governments and the European Commission. It will take as its starting point the need to reinforce autonomy as the basis upon which universities will be able to respond to the growing and multiple demands of society and will tackle crucial issues such as:

•    widening participation in universities, and improving lifelong learning opportunities and ensuring relevant and innovative study programmes for all
•    ensuring that European universities have a strong research profile and improving the careers of Europe’s young researchers
•    promoting internationalisation and increasing mobility
•    improving quality and transparency in Europe’s universities
•    enabling European universities to diversify and increase funding.

Please note presentations from the Convention are available on the Prague website.

Current political and economic climate will create challenges but also opportunities for universities post Bologna

In his presentation to the EUA Convention, general rapporteur, Sir Peter Scott (Vice Chancellor of Kingston University) said it was a decisive moment not only for Europe's universities but also for Europe as a whole.

He stressed the Bologna process reforms had created 'great and probably irreversible momentum for organisational and curricula change' within European universities. But Bologna had also given universities a contemporary presence to ‘reinvigorate our historical memory, a new cohesion'. "We have become in some indirect and possibly unintended way - a single project," he told the audience.

Looking forward to the next decade, he said the 'language of Prague' had given leaders much reason to be confident. He acknowledged the current political and economic climate would indeed create challenges for university leaders by putting greater emphasis on their capacity to handle complex political environments created by the recession and to manage their institutions in an uncertain funding environment. "We universities will have to take the initiative and actively exercise our autonomy", he underlined.

However, political and economic turbulence would also create opportunities. As an example, it may lead to a more mature conception of the knowledge society - with universities reclaiming their rightful place as educators of informed citizens and as the sources of science, scholarship and culture.

He concluded by saying he believed universities in Europe were at a key point of transition from Bologna to post-Bologna, "in their own affairs; and from a neo-liberal world order to something different and still undefined". While it was too early to say what the outcome of this change would be, he said he believed universities had tended to allow funding issues to drive the debate. "Perhaps in the future it might be the other way round. First we must define our purposes, change or reaffirm our core academic values, and then we can design the funding, management and governance systems best suited to deliver these goals," he added.

EUA welcomes new members

On the occasion of the EUA Council meeting at the Prague Convention, 12 institutions were welcomed as full individual members:

•    University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria (Austria)
•    FH Aachen – University of Applied Sciences (Germany)
•    Cologne University of Applied Sciences (Germany)
•    Budapest Tech (Hungary)
•    International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) – Italy
•    University of Agder (Norway)
•    Opole University of Technology (Poland)
•    Udmurt State University (Russian Federation)
•    CEU Cardenal Herrera University (Spain)
•    University of Borås (Sweden)
•    Adnan Menderes University (Turkey)
•    University of St. Andrews (United Kingdom)

The Council also welcomed the Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University (Turkey) as an associate member and the Fundación Universidad-Empresa (Spain) as an affiliate.

EUA Council for Doctoral Education welcomes European networks and associations

EUA is pleased to announce that European networks and other national or international organisations working on issues relating to doctoral education and training can now apply to join the EUA Council for Doctoral Education (EUA-CDE).

Established last year as an independent EUA membership service dedicated to advancing doctoral education in Europe, the EUA-CDE currently has 130 members – individual higher education institutions across Europe. It fulfils its mission through the organisation of conferences, training seminars and other events, advocacy, the provision of information and the dissemination of good practice. It also provides policy advice on new trends and developments in relation to doctoral programmes and research training in Europe.

At last week’s Prague Convention, EUA Council voted to include 2 new membership categories so the EUA-CDE will become a stronger body representing a wider range of doctoral education stakeholders.

The new categories are collective associate members: European networks of higher education institutions with an elected chairman and their own secretariat (As a minimum, their members must comprise institutions from at least 9 different European countries); and affiliate members - either national or international organisations or organisations concerned with specific thematic or disciplinary issues in relation to doctoral education and training.

Further information on how to join the EUA-CDE is available on this website or by emailing

Please note the 2nd Annual Meeting of the EUA-CDE will take place in Lausanne, Switzerland on 4-5 June 2009. Visit the event website for more information.

New Publication: Trends in Quality Assurance

EUA is pleased to announce the launch of a new publication: "Trends in Quality Assurance”, which assembles a selection of keynote presentations and a few of the many excellent papers that contributed to lively discussions at the 3rd European Quality Assurance Forum organised in Budapest on 20 – 22 November 2008 and which gathered together about 500 academics and experts in quality assurance.

The papers discuss a wide range of issues related to current trends in quality assurance in higher education: such as the impact of rankings, measuring performance, student participation and the latest developments in internal and external quality assurance processes at the institutional and national level.

Please click here to download the publication.

Please note also that the organisers of the Forum have launched a new call for papers for the next Forum which will take place on 19 – 21 November, 2009 at Copenhagen Business School in Denmark. Click here to find out more about the Fourth European Quality Assurance Forum call for papers.