The European University Association (EUA) has this week published a political declaration underlining the outcomes of its recent Annual Conference held at Aarhus University (Denmark) which focused on the role of universities in developing talent in Europe.
As political leaders in Europe begin important negotiations to determine the next EU budget (after 2013) the Aarhus Declaration begins by underlining the importance of investing in education, research and innovation to enable universities to play their full role in nurturing talented individuals and in contributing to the EU 2020 strategy for ‘smart sustainable and inclusive growth’. The Declaration is, however, not only addressed at political leaders as it also contains an action agenda for universities to develop talent.
The Declaration stresses that Europe cannot afford to run the risk of losing a generation of talented people, or of a serious decrease in research and innovation activity while its competitors are investing heavily in universities and the innovators of tomorrow: “Europe’s universities collectively add value to European society and the European economy. Looking forward to the discussion on the EU budget post 2013, the considerable achievements of the last decade should not be wasted. They need to be consolidated in future by prioritising higher education, research and innovation as every Euro spent at European level on universities will add value by bringing people together, pooling knowledge and creating synergies that could not be achieved at national level alone.”
Nurturing talented individuals has always been central to the mission of Europe’s universities and becomes increasingly vital as knowledge becomes central to social and economic development and as global competition for talent increases. The Aarhus Declaration calls on universities to strengthen this role and outlines an agenda for action.
It encourages universities to:
- Widen access and increase capacity to respond to the needs of more diverse student populations
- Develop distinctive research portfolios
- Ensure that university staff and students identify with the university and its specific mission as a basis for generating and maintaining a vibrant university environment.
The statement then calls for clear university “strategies that promote talent from an early stage”, in particular:
- Strengthening the links between teaching and research from an early stage and building research capacity from the undergraduate level
- Building attractive and transparent career structures, tracks and opportunities for all staff
- Placing a special focus on doctoral education and training and prioritising the development of career opportunities for early stage researchers
- And developing and promoting the circulation of talent in order to enhance research capacity and bring new knowledge.
Finally, the statement underlines the need for:
- Strong university leadership to promote talent development in all its dimensions
- Ensuring a clear internationalisation strategy within universities
- Ensuring an overall commitment to a quality culture and to transparency within universities
- Understanding the importance of partnerships. Promoting dialogue with, and engaging a variety of stakeholders at different levels, ensures impact on society, and the development and dissemination of local knowledge in an international context.
Download the Aarhus Declaration here.
Photo: Lars Kruse AU Kommunikation