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Towards a 2030 Vision on the Future of Universities in Europe

Policy Report
Publisher: 
Publications Office of the European Union
City: 
Luxembourg
Category: 
Abstract: 
The study assignment, “Towards a 2030 Vision on the Future of Universities in Europe” was commissioned by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (DG RTD). It was undertaken by the Centre for Strategy & Evaluation Services LLP (CSES), supported a team of high-level experts composed of academics and ex-academics. This study is an independent consultancy study report. The report required close consultation with key stakeholders as part of a participatory process. The Vision and transformation modules were developed in liaison with key stakeholders. Two stakeholder workshops took place in Brussels, followed by a validation webinar. There was then further consultation with key university networks. In addition, a Steering Group consisting of different Commission policy units from DG RTD and DG Education and Culture (DG EAC) actively guided and participated in the consultation process through four Steering Group meetings. Its members provided inputs to ensure that existing EU policy and programming initiatives were reflected, given the need to ensure that future EU support builds on current and previous support. Europe’s university landscape comprises more than 5000 universities, and is characterised by its heterogeneity. The Vision provides an enabling, non-prescriptive framework, which recognises the imperative of maintaining the autonomy of universities, and ensuring the principle of academic freedom. It also embodies the values provided in EU primary legislation, which will underpin the Vision’s implementation. Accordingly, the Vision – and the transformation modules that underpin it – need to be flexible enough to accommodate differences between universities. These include the degree of emphasis on their different missions (e.g. educational, teaching, research and innovation, societal), the extent of their existing contribution and future capacity to contribute to excellent science, and their different disciplinary and inter-disciplinary strengths. Reflecting this diversity, the Vision seeks to support universities and to enable them to autonomously determine their own developmental needs and pathways towards the achievement of the 2030 Vision. Given that the Vision covers a broad range of issues, challenges and opportunities for universities between now and 2030, an effort was made to build a consensus among stakeholders. However, whilst the analysis presented in the report has been closely informed by desk research, stakeholder events and feedback from the university networks, there are divergent viewpoints in some areas. This reflects different viewpoints among different types of universities in Europe and variance in the baseline situation in terms of how strong particular universities are in the research and innovation domain already, and what progress remains. As such, the study represents the authors’ best efforts to establish a degree of consensus on the main priorities for universities in Europe. In parallel with the publication of the revitalised 2020 ERA Communication (September 2020), this report is designed to provide inspiration for the development of an EU policy framework on the future of universities in the fields of research and innovation. The study therefore provides an important starting point to inform the policy debate on a possible follow-up Communication on the Future of Universities in Europe to 2030 in 2021. This could set out in greater detail how Europe might best support and further enable universities’ ongoing transformations, building on the section of the new ERA Communication which addresses this topic. The study team would like to thank all stakeholders for their active participation and engagement in the debate.
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