Points from the Discussion
The discussion has been summarised to highlight key points. Every attempt has been made to reflect the spirit of the debate. Where it is helpful, contributors to the debate have been identified.
Mixed Funding Sources
In Bonn, financing is dependant on the state Minister in Düsseldorf. We are also encouraged by the Ministry to get private money, because if we get more private money we also receive more state money. So that is a strong incentive to get private funds from German foundations, but also from private sector companies. It is, of course, the responsibility of each professor how far he or she goes, what he or she accepts. We do not control that, it is the responsibility of each person.
We are moving quite quickly away from a time when national governments determine what happens only in their own countries. This meeting is itself international. Governments will continue, of course, to be major funders, they will have major impacts on policy and major impacts on behaviour. But in a global world, we don’t have a world government and so we have the market as a proxy for that, which brings all sorts of problems. Previous speakers have talked about diversification of funding. I think that is clearly something that we have moved towards; it is something universities should be aiming for, but it does complicate life. The suggestion, I think, was to encourage faculty to get outside funds – it is their responsibility. I notice this word “responsibility” keeps coming back. Commercial funding of research for example, you have to be a little careful with it, there have been some difficulties. The selling of courses, there can be some problems with it. But I do not think that is an excuse for saying “we must run back to some golden age when government gave us all the money and everything was wonderful.”
The importance of life-long networks is not just to get the degree but what they set up or found at the university. Studying before the first degree is not really studying, in the sense of meaningful research, but it seems to me that even as an undergraduate you take your studies more seriously because you accept that this is now something you have to do for the rest of your life. Therefore you cannot just say “it will be over in two years’ time or three years time,” you have to build on it and improve the quality of education throughout your lifetime.
Openness and Universality
Nowadays, universities have to take into account intermediary schools or High Schools that are not able to provide the education we used to get from those schools. This is quite a bad thing because under these circumstances universities which are selective about their enrolment are less able to provide universality and the ability to think in an open way about community needs. This sort of restriction is also found in the excessive emphasis we have on ICT and the Internet, which are very important infrastructurally, but have little to do with the actual content of the thoughts being expressed and developed through them. We can talk about buildings and the Internet, but the Internet is not the actual mission of the university.
What we have to promote is openness in all senses, in all faculties. When we talk for instance about medicine or physics or pharmaceuticals, questions of economics (i.e. the money researchers stand to make) are important but to a certain extent they are irrelevant. What we have to promote is something that goes beyond short-term concerns and makes people, makes students, able and encouraged to go beyond the limits of our knowledge, our ability to transmit knowledge, and to be open to all countries and all classes in that country. When we talk about pharmaceutical research, we are talking about something which is a very hot issue in economic terms. Economists don’t have any theory about the best way to deal with patents, so the best thing we can teach a pharmaceutical research student is to do his best and do it with people from other countries, because this could make his ability to cross the frontiers of knowledge easier. But nothing else. We should not say, “you do that because you will make more money and will make your country richer,” because that is not what universities should do.
Stakeholders and Higher Education
Is the academic community a stakeholder in the future of the university? In all the debates, and dare I say even in some of our writings, we have not thought of it in quite this way, but one looks at the way we’ve structured this session, and it’s as if the stake-holders are always on the outside of the university and never really within it. And if one takes that reflection on board, it may be that we need to think of a range of stakeholders, some of which are within the academy itself. We then have a sense of negotiations between different agendas and different parties. In the United Kingdom, in 1997 there was a major national enquiry into the future of higher education led by the then-Sir Ron Dering, and it became known as the Dering report. Lost in the 400 pages of that report and its many, many recommendations, was a proposal that we develop a policy forum for higher education generally, a compact.
Can we imagine there might develop in society a compact across these different views and ideas, and even visions as to what a university might be? Perhaps the Europaeum could establish a forum within which such a compact for the negotiation of these different ideas and perspectives might be negotiated.
Student Involvement in the Europaeum
It is often discussed that The Europaeum network should not only be a professorial network but also based on student initiative.
We should resolve to inform students at each member university about the Europaeum Network. The students in the workgroups would like to offer a presentation addressed to the wider university public. Because in the end, it all boils down to what the people who are members of the network do and contribute. All of this is possible only with ICT. It is so natural to use ICT that we do not even think about it, but we need e-mail, newsletters and a web platform to build on the personal contact we have now made here.