Interdisciplinarity is the Key
The Guild’s universities’ recently published the paper “Looking to the Future: The Guild’s Vision for Europe’s Universities”, in response to the EC’s European Research and Education area initiative. It offers an outlook for European Universities for the next 10 years.
A Push for Open due to COVID-19
The paper concludes that universities from all over Europe are struggling to keep up to date with their digital skills acceptance applying to all their members (students, academics and administrative staff). Universities are also facing huge and fast changes through digital technologies, and it is becoming more urgent to address these matters in a more interdisciplinary way. The correlation with the Covid-19 pandemic and climate changes demonstrates the widespread consequences that can be envisioned, particularly on the social and economical level. From another perspective, however, a massive response from scientists all over the world has been witnessed, with the positive outcome they release their research outputs to the public in an Open, Accessible and Reusable way.
The paper also demonstrates the need to inform the European Research Area and the European Education Area about the enormous potential that universities represent and what their major challenges are. Therefore, the Guild’s paper enhances the role of universities: they are built on integrity and trust and based on academic freedom, they should come together within and across institutions to strengthen and make a strong position on frontier-led research, ensuring all the necessary needs and equipment in order “...to face the unknown challenges of the future”. However, it is always necessary to keep in mind the continuous updating of pedagogical competences in the digital age, so that new approaches to knowledge transfer can occur, conferring high excellence in pedagogical skills to universities.
The document also refers to the imperative need for autonomy for universities, as well as for other public agencies, so that partnerships and joint research can be strengthened towards the common goal of promoting science and its role in public policies and debates.
Universities play a critical role: But Strong Collaboration is the Next Step
Thus, we select some of key opportunities and challenges for Universities in the coming 10 years are:
- Europe’s universities must be strengthened through academic freedom, and in their financial and regulatory autonomy;
- Universities in Europe must receive an ambitious allocation of public funding, commensurate with their ambitions to be world-leading in the service of society;
- Universities in Europe must be cutting-edge in research fields that enable them to address global and local societal challenges;
- European research excellence must be strengthened - within and across universities;
- Universities must draw on their pedagogical strengths in the new ways to equip students for the social, economic and cultural challenges of the future;
- Europe’s universities must strive to be open, inclusive, and diverse;
- Universities needs to embrace a changing labour market, building on their distinctive strengths;
- Universities must be recognised as key actors in innovation ecosystems, making a distinctive contribution to their locality and society beyond;
- Europe’s universities need to develop, share and use world-class research infrastructure in new ways;
- Digitalisation changes the way we do research. Universities need to change their practices to support their researchers, and develop new ways of recognising academic excellence.
For further detailed information, please consult the insight paper:
The Guild (2020) Looking to the Future: The Guild's Vision for Europe's Universities. The Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities and Bern Open Publishing. DOI: 10.7892/boris.146529