Responding to the European Commission’s Communications on the European Research and Education Areas, presidents of The Guild’s universities set out a vision for Europe’s universities over the next ten years.
The speed of social, economic and geopolitical change, accelerated through the current COVID-19 pandemic, forms an urgent context for articulating how Universities can best support society through research, education and innovation in the future. In response, The Guild’s presidents have articulated a vision for the future of Europe’s universities. The ways in which universities need to change to embrace future challenges must always be informed, presidents argue, by a deep reflection of the values that define us.
Faced by dramatic change through digitalisation, The Guild affirms the importance of all subjects in addressing complex societal challenges in a truly interdisciplinary manner. Pressing issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic or climate change can only be tackled through in-depth disciplinary expertise, coupled with rich contributions from all subject domains, including the social science and humanities.
The European Union has an important role to play in supporting the research and teaching excellence of universities in Europe, and in bringing Europe’s universities together through exchange, partnership, and collaboration in teaching and research. The EU provides an important context for mutual learning, international standard-setting, and bridge-building.
It is thus essential that the development of the European Research Area and the European Education Area is informed by a deep understanding of the rich potential of our universities, and our most pressing challenges. University research within and across institutions needs to be strengthened, The Guild’s presidents argue, in all its dimensions. This must include fundamental, frontier-led research, to ensure we are equipped to respond to the unknown challenges of the future. At the same time, they emphasize the need for pedagogical change in a digital age, building on the educational excellence of universities to develop new, appropriate pedagogies.
The Guild’s presidents underline their vision with an urgent call to enhance the autonomy of universities, and for public authorities to develop a close partnership with universities to strengthen the public understanding of science and its role in public policy and debate. They emphasize the importance of embracing transformation, to ensure that changes strengthen, rather than deflect from, the core mission of comprehensive universities.