EUA : European University Association

G8 University Summit highlights role of universities in creating a sustainable society

Presidents, Rectors and representatives of leading education and research institutes from the G8 and G20 countries met at the end of last month in Vancouver, Canada, for the 3rd G8 University Summit on 'Universities and Communities: Transition to a sustainable future'.

Aiming to build on the two previous summits, discussions centred around the three sub-themes of sustainable health, energy and higher education. EUA was invited to present in the session on sustainable higher education. Secretary General Lesley Wilson outlined to the international audience the context of current reform processes in Europe (both in higher education and research) and the role these changes could play in providing a sustainable higher education platform in the future.

University leaders at the Summit adopted a Statement of Action which underlines the role universities can play in creating a ‘sustainable future’. In particular, it outlines their role in leading change and providing new knowledge; creating partnerships with different global stakeholders; and using multi-dimensional approaches to respond to complex sustainability issues.

The Statement outlines six recommendations for action for university leaders and stakeholders in relation to the sustainability of universities themselves and to the sustainability of society at large. These include: creating built environments that “stand up to new scrutiny and be designed to reduce the ecological footprint”; and seeking “more effective solutions to meet the challenges presented by constraints in public funding and worldwide economic upheaval”. It also stresses the need to “organise our knowledge on sustainable energy in such way that it contributes to the establishment of a sustainable world, preserving its natural environments for future generations while meeting our current needs”.
As the next Chair of the G8, the 2011 G8 University Summit will take place in France and be hosted by the Universities of Franche Comté and Bourgogne.

More information is available on the Summit website.

EUA-CDE Annual Meeting: Stakeholders gather to discuss future of doctoral education

More than 200 university leaders, heads of research schools, politicians, policymakers from more than 35 countries will gather this week (4/5 June) at the Freie Universität Berlin for the 3rd Annual Meeting of the EUA Council for Doctoral Education.

This will be an important opportunity for defining the future path of European doctoral education. Participants will discuss and debate a series of key issues including: ways to develop critical mass; improving recruitment and admission strategies; providing suitable support structures for the professional development of PhD candidates and their supervisors; the use of credit systems and quality assurance systems that are specific for doctoral education and that can be linked to research missions.

Building on the original Salzburg Principles, the outcomes of the meeting will enable universities from all 46 European countries to be at the forefront of reforms in this area.

This week’s meeting in Berlin will also enable stakeholders to define how to remove some of the current obstacles to developing doctoral education – which lies at the heart of developing a knowledge based society. These include a lack of suitable funding mechanisms not only for candidates and equipment, but also for universities themselves to develop more professional and effective structures. Other key challenges relate to autonomy and legal frameworks that will provide doctoral/graduate schools with the flexibility needed to develop more innovative PhD programmes.

More information on the outcomes of this event will be posted in the next EUA newsletter and through the event website.

European Research Area Board (ERAB) Conference, Seville, Spain (6-7 May 2010)

The ERAB Conference provided the opportunity for an open debate about the first ERAB Strategic review report which has set key milestones for measuring the achievements of the European Research Area (ERA) by 2030.

Over 250 participants from across the spectrum of interest in research and technology attended the conference, from the European Commission, national governments, research institutions and universities with a significant allocation of places to young researchers. Leaders of the major European stakeholder organisations attended including EUA President, Professor Jean-Marc Rapp. Six sessions addressed the ERAB key milestones and formulated 38 core questions that were debated collectively in a concluding session on 'Optimising the ERA by 2030' that included the novelty of electronic voting by participants (

EU Research Commissioner Maire Geoghegan Quinn opened the conference with a challenge to “provide me with at least ten concrete proposals on how research, innovation and science can contribute to addressing society's Grand Challenges, to prepare Europe's post-crisis smart, green economy and society” and in doing so “be provocative, imaginative and daring in your ideas” (read more in the ERAB Conference 4th Newsletter). The conclusions of the conference are now in preparation and will be published on the ERAB website shortly.

For its part, EUA will be debating the conference conclusions at its next meeting of the Research Policy Working Group on 11th June and then provide its views to the ERAB Chairman, Professor John Wood, as follow-up to its discussions held with him earlier this year.

Download the ERAB Strategic review report.

EUA report from Indo-European Conference on Quality Assurance in Higher Education, Delhi, (6-7 May 2010)

This conference was jointly organised by the University of Delhi, in cooperation with the main EU programmes for cooperation in higher education with India, the Erasmus Mundus External Cooperation Window India and the India–EU Study Centres Programme, as a follow-up to the 'Joint Declaration on Education' signed by the European Commission and the Government of India (Ministry of Human Resource Development) in 2008.

The declaration underlined the will to increase academic mobility and strengthen links between Indian and European higher education institutions. Last month’s conference brought together experts from both continents to share established European practices and new Indian initiatives on quality assurance (QA) in higher education. Sessions focused on important issues such as the need for QA; opportunities, challenges, trends and best practices in QA; accreditation and its relevance to QA; and the role of information, communication & technology in QA.

The meeting came at a time when the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) of the Government of India is actively considering ways to regulate delivery of higher education in India in order to position itself as one of the leading knowledge-based economies. In his keynote speech, Professor Sukhdeo Thorat, Chairman of the University Grants Commission, emphasised the challenge India is facing to ensure that quality assurance remains an inclusive process.

There was a keen interest from participants in European experiences with quality through the Bologna Process. In the session on current trends and best practices on both continents, Hanne Smidt, EUA Senior Advisor presented the main findings of the Trends 2010 report on European HE developments and the Bologna Process. She also chaired the final session on the future roadmap, which stressed both the importance of developing higher education in a national context while appreciating the experience from other parts of the world.

Further information and presentations from the conference are available on the following website.

Brussels in Brief: EU Council takes further step in the simplification of European funding programmes

On 26 May, the EU Competitiveness Council adopted a series of conclusions on the simplification of programmes supporting European Research and Innovation, in response to the Communication published at the end of April by the Commission.

EUA is strongly involved in this debate and has been invited to contribute to several high-level seminars organised on this topic by the European Parliament and the EU Spanish Presidency.

EUA is pleased, therefore, that the Council has taken up the principles put forward by EUA, which should govern European funding schemes: simplicity and consistency, stability and legal certainty, a trust-based approach, general acceptance of usual accounting principles, interoperability and flexibility. Under the Council’s recommendations, VAT could become in the future an eligible cost item, a move that is particularly welcomed by EUA. The Commission is now invited to take these issues forward in the design of the next round of funding programmes.

Download the Council Conclusions and the Commission Communication.

EUA Job Vacancy: Conference & Events Manager

EUA is currently looking to recruit a Conference & Events Manager who will be responsible for the overall organisation, coordination and management of all EUA conferences and events.

For more information, please click here.

Candidates should send a CV and cover letter to by 30 June 2010.