We would like to summarise what was discussed yesterday morning in the Students' Session. Our discussion was much less philosophical or ideological than the discussions we have heard in the last one-and-a-half days. We were much more pragmatic about things and questions were not about the need for ICT usage or is the utility of networks, but what we can expect from these facilities. How can we make use of them? What can be done to improve these opportunities? We ended up with three main issues that concerned us most, and these were ICT usage, networks, and funding. We will quickly give an overview of these issues, and then make some concrete suggestions to teachers and the Europaeum especially, and also propose some things that students can do in order to improve these issues.
We do all agree that ICT usage is very important, and on the whole we would like to see more of it. But that does not mean that we do not want more actual interaction with faculty members. We think ICT is a very useful tool in the education process, but it is only a tool. Up-to-date information on the Internet is a very useful way of getting information across, but we think it is most important to know where to look for this information, and to establish ways of ensuring collaboration among students and faculty.
Following on from Ms Ziemba, we have observed that of late, universities have to go to other sources for financing. We believe that education is a public benefit and should therefore be state-financed. Research should not be profit-oriented and be bound by market conditions. In the future, the funding of universities will be much more diverse than it is now. We will have funding coming from the state mainly, but there will also be the private sector and foundations. We have to be realistic as the educational market expands: if universities don’t sell what they can sell, somebody else will.
What goods can universities sell? There are three main points:
- University status – what we have is the image of independence and the image of reliability and academia.
I would like to contribute four areas where both government and society ask things of universities in the United Kingdom, and I would like to start with some challenges set during the last two years by the British Ministry of Education. The title is the Department for Education and Skills – and I hope Mme Ruggeri will welcome the use of the term skills alongside the Department for Education and Skills – and then turn to what society expects of universities, particularly in the areas of culture, the arts, and cultural exchanges with European and other countries of the world.
My work is with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, on the management of policy concerning higher education. We are an inter-governmental organisation and we try to listen and communicate as much as we can with business, and with the social partners, as part of our consultative process. The title of this session refers to that mythical beast, The University. I confess I find it more and more difficult to sustain the idea that all universities share common characteristics, still less identities or missions. John Tod has just sketched out very briefly a fascinating example of new university collaboration.
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.