The Rectors of the Arqus universities adopted at their last meeting a joint position paper on a European Strategy for Universities, which tackles the four missions of higher education institutions (education, research, innovation, and service to society).
The Arqus Rectors’ Council, which met during the Annual Conference 2021, discussed with representatives of the European Commission the development of a European strategy for universities. The rectors of the Arqus universities welcome the initiative of a Strategy for universities in Europe. Rectors agreed that Arqus will continue to share our experiences both as individual institutions and as an alliance and remain ready to contribute to the further development of the Strategy and its future implementation.
A European Strategy has the potential for setting a direction for higher education in Europe, responding to the developments of a rapidly changing world. While prioritizing focus areas will strengthen the impact of a European strategy, the areas that universities need to address are comprehensive.
The key points of the Arqus’ position are as follows:
- The strategy must emphasize the importance of academic freedom and institutional autonomy as drivers for excellence, creativity, and innovation in European higher education. Furthermore, the strategy should encourage diversity in higher education.
- The EU should develop bottom-up instruments, as opposed to a top-down governance approach steering universities in a specific direction.
- The strategy must acknowledge the primary contribution of universities is research and education, which forms the foundation of our service to society.
- The strategy should support Sustainable Development. Complex and wicked challenges require innovative and interdisciplinary approaches to education and research. Social sciences and humanities have important contributions for inclusion and socially sustainable development, and closer links between these disciplines and STEM should be promoted.
- The strategy should assume a human development approach to education, avoiding a market-based approach.
- The strategy should encourage synergies between research, innovation and education, promoting students’ participation in research and innovation activities, as well as research-based approaches to teaching and learning.
- The strategy should promote digital teaching and learning, and the development of digital skills and competence.
Moreover, Arqus considers students’ involvement and participation on all levels to be vital. A strategy for universities in Europe must include student participation and the representation and promotion of all students’ educational, social, economic, and cultural interests.