This report emerges from an international investigation into how European universities can – and must – operate at the forefront of the Knowledge Revolution in the 21st century, involving some 200 experts, academics, policy-advisors, politicians, and practitioners and 50 graduate students drawn from across and beyond Europe. What follows is a selection of what can be deemed to be key statements, key quotes and key recommendations, worthy of further and wider consideration emerging from a three-year inquiry. Not every participant will, of course, have agreed with every recommendation.
The Spirit of Education
European universities should not seek simply to ape the leading American universities because of any feeling of inferiority. They should not live in the shadow of the Ivy League. They should seek to study US universities and other models of success to improve their performance and all round quality while understanding and maintaining their own special qualities, particularly linked to of diversity of approaches in study and learning, in funding support, and in composition of student and staff bodies. It was agreed that they must then move forward with confidence
Universities have a key role to play in the production of economic and social knowledge. Universities also have a key role in the production of the qualified, the professional and the leaders. However, universities must always aim beyond merely producing more and more ‘trained’ people, with the right skills that meet the immediate demands of society and government. They must be citizens. They must be complete individuals.
The two overarching themes of the conference were that:
- Universities must be pro-active and practical;
- Simple marketization is not the answer;
Education is more than just vocational teaching; European universities have a structural inbuilt advantage over the American system because of our inbuilt cultural diversity; and we have no choice but to take part in the e-learning revolution. But we must co-operate, share, and must not re-invent the wheel.
This is the second part of a major international investigation into how European universities can continue to operate at the forefront of the Knowledge Revolution launched in Berlin in 2001 in front of more than 75 expert participants – including representatives from all Europaeum partner universities. The discussions were held in the magnificent Sorbonne palace rooms.
Four underlying themes emerged from the two days of discussion in Paris:
i) Underlying role of universities
This conference was the third international gathering in the Europaeum’s Future of European Universities Project, supported by DaimlerChrysler AG Services. In all, more than 40 experts from universities, government, the media, and policy think-tanks, were joined by 25 students drawn from all the Europaeum partner institutions, working together to discuss the challenges facing European universities over the coming years, competitively, technologically, internationally, and of course financially.
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.
The future of education and expansion of knowledge: as we know more, it becomes increasingly difficult to find a large number of people in the same place who know the same field very well. We have an increasing requirement of mobility, to be in contact with academics/researchers who are in the same field, because we are able to specialise. Also, we can use the Internet in place of some face-to-face meetings, and when we do have to fly, we can use it to make more use of the time we are together.
The idea of lifelong sharing, with people in lifelong learning also helping with further development of courses.
The Europaeum conducted a survey on Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) usage amongst students and staff. Given that this is a key area of change, we decided to take a look at it ourselves through a survey.
The first finding is that usage is high, which is good news: more than eighty percent of students own their own computer. Some people might consider that amazing, others might say it is not high enough. However, an important finding, which universities need to build into their planning, is that students still use the technology primarily for entertainment.