Wednesday

21st Feb 2018

Opinion

European universities need to remain competitive

  • Talented people move around and look for the places offering them the best possibilities to expand their abilities. (Photo: Pixabay)

When French president Emmanuel Macron laid out his vision for Europe on 26 September 2017, many listened with great interest.

We need such visionary and future-proof ideas for the EU itself, and especially for higher education and science on the European continent.

I think that the initiative of "the emergence by 2024 of around 20 'European universities'" is very exciting.

It is still an idea in the making - but if done in the right manner, it could be a much-needed building up of Europe as a first-class education, research and innovation hub.

In the globalised world, the EU is now feeling the squeeze from other continents that have accelerated growth and development - also in research and education.

If we are to compete, we must seek to increase Europe's competitiveness through development and implementation of new knowledge, and translate new knowledge into innovative solutions.

The European universities and education and research institutions play a key role. However, I believe that, as individual European nations, we will fall short in our response.

Join forces

Today, universities in EU countries are under-represented at the top-end of international universities rankings. For the EU to host some of the world leading universities in the future, we must join forces.

The added value we will gain from closer and more strategic cooperation can potentially create the best facilities in the world.

Internationalisation and mobility are known to increase quality in particular for higher education, science and innovation. Networks of "European universities" could advance the quality of higher education in the EU by offering joint degrees or joint-programmes.

What if a future engineer could take his degree through a joint programme in Munich, Paris and Copenhagen? Or a joint master programme in archaeology could take place in the Leiden, Rome and Lund. Through such strategic cooperation, we will be able to raise the bar for quality and relevance even higher in the EU.

Joint EU efforts within research have celebrated significant success over the past decade, through programmes such as the European Research Council - and the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions aimed at increasing mobility for European researchers.

We need more of that as we look towards a new framework programme on research and innovation in the EU. In addition to this, "European universities" could serve as a new vehicle for advancing European research within areas of excellence.

The high level of quality will also allow us to attract the most talented people from other parts of the world.

Talented people move around and look for the places offering them the best possibilities to expand their abilities. We need to make sure that we can provide the high standards they demand.

Therefore, when developing the concept of European Universities, it is pivotal to focus on creating networks that can contribute to laying the foundation for the highest standards of education and research worldwide.

European Universities should start as consortia of leading universities and higher education and research institutions from three or more countries.

The consortia should be open to excellent institutions from outside the EU, as well. These should be able to apply for financial support for establishing and running close strategic cooperatives within education, research and innovation.

The selection of consortia to receive financial support should be based on the quality and relevance of education and science of the institutions, as well as the level of integration between the participating institutions.

It is crucial that the consortia chosen to receive EU funding have joint activities covering the entire value chain from education and research to innovation and entrepreneurship.

Need for action

Needless to say, ambitions like these do not come for free.

In Shakespearean terms, what we don't need in Europe is 'mere prattle without practice'. We need to turn the grand visions introduced by Macron at Sorbonne into real action.

This is only done by allocating substantial funding to the concept, as well as ensuring the administrative demands for participation are kept at a minimum. Without these steps, the idea will remain exactly that - just an idea.

All states in Europe are faced with the same challenges of competing in a globalised world.

Therefore, we need a new vision for the European Research Area and the European Higher Education Area - vitalised by the great potential in developing new strategic networks of European Universities.

The ambition is to create a future-proof education and research powerhouse that is able to compete with the rest of the world in the future.

Soren Pind is the Danish minister for higher education and science.

Focus

UK's universities set 'Brexit wish list'

British academics want to guarantee residency and work rights for their EU staff, as well as "enhanced mobility opportunities" for UK and EU students, mostly by keeping British participation in EU funding programs.

News in Brief

  1. MEPs approve anti-smuggling bill on tobacco
  2. SPD members start voting on new Merkel-led government
  3. Barroso lobbied Katainen for Goldman Sachs
  4. Berlusconi's coalition ahead with 34.7% support
  5. Moscovici: Greece '99 percent' there to get new bailout
  6. Simone Veil to enter France's Pantheon in July
  7. German poll puts far-right AfD ahead of SPD for first time
  8. Commissioners poised to join EU-Mexico trade talks

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Climate ShowSupporting Start-Ups & SMEs in the Energy Transition. Tomorrow the Brussels Pre-Event
  2. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  3. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  4. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  6. EPSUMovie Premiere: 'Up to The Last Drop' - 22 February, Brussels
  7. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  8. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  10. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  11. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name
  12. Dialogue PlatformBeyond the Errors in the War on Terror: How to Fight Global Militarism - 22 February

Latest News

  1. Eastern states push back at rule of law conditions on funds
  2. Katainen explains: My friend Barroso did not lobby me
  3. A European budget: securing a prosperous future for Europe
  4. Poland wrong to log in ancient forest, says EU lawyer
  5. EU taxpayers risk bailing out MEP pension scheme
  6. Commissioner Katainen confirms Barroso lobbied him
  7. Eurogroup chief pledge on transparency after meeting MPs
  8. Poland shows no sign of concessions to Commission

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  3. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  4. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections
  5. EPSUDrinking Water Directive Step Forward but Human Right to Water Not Recognized
  6. European Gaming & Betting AssociationGambling Operators File Data Protection Complaint Against Payment Block in Norway
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Expresses Deep Concern Over Proposed Holocaust Law in Poland
  8. CECEConstruction Industry Gets Together to Discuss the Digital Revolution @ the EU Industry Days
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Relations in the New Era
  10. European Free AlllianceEnd Discrimination of European Minorities - Sign the Minority Safepack Initiative
  11. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Diversity Shouldn’t Be Only a Slogan” Lorant Vincze (Fuen) Warns European Commission
  12. Dialogue PlatformWhat Can Christians Learn from a Global Islamic Movement?