I want to pick up one point that has arisen at various points in the presentations about one of the risks facing European higher education systems. It arises from the notion of the commodification of higher education, the peculiar, in a historic sense, view of higher education as a tradable commodity. The way, for example, that the World Trade Organisation is taking an interest in higher education, as if we were dealing in fridges or cars: whether we open our doors formally through the GATS process, or not, it is a real process. Increasing international competition is going to create real pressure, putting our universities at risk of decline, certainly of increasing weakness.
The conference has examined the opportunities and risks of new partnerships between universities, and political, economic and academic bodies and institutions. These partnerships have emerged over the past few decades and are constantly increasing.
I found this a fascinating and intriguing conference. I feel that we have so much experience and expertise in this room, and the meeting has been fruitful. We have been given a lot of challenges and I want to remind you of some of the challenges that we, either collectively as an association, or individually, have been given.