Can the University Save Europe?

See on Scoop.itDual impact of research; towards the impactelligent university

Higher education is in the position to save Europe by rendering a substantial contribution to
sustainable economic growth. For that purpose higher education must strengthen its
innovative power in entrepreneurship education and by focusing research more on societal
problems, while being better empowered and enabled by Governments. Universities must
show leadership in resolving or channeling the major societal questions. More European
competition between universities in education and research would be helpful. Universities
can contribute to recreating hope and optimism through more innovation in the economy.


Eurosceptism and antagonism against Europe is a form of shooting
yourself in the foot: more European cooperation is essential for European
countries to retain a strong postion in international competitiveness.
Euroscepticism can be explained by the increase of those groups in the population
which experienced in the past years a loss of work security and noticed that
incomes at the upper part of the distribution rose faster than those of the lower
income groups. To regain confidence across the population in more Europe,
Europe needs more sustainable growth and a better distribution of income. It also
needs to rebuild trust in its institutions by giving more leeway to implementation
by national institutions and by choosing for one language as the main language of
communication, leaving translation to the member states.

This comes at a time when Europe is challenged by an economic crisis.
Drastic measures need to be taken to regain sustainable economic growth. There
is no alternative outside the knowledge economy for such growth. Graduates of
higher education have become central in generating new jobs and new potential
for economic growth. The quality of the graduates of higher education needs to
improve with more attention for the enormous changes on the labor market. In
higher education cognitive development and knowledge of the discipline remain
important, but there needs to be more attention for entrepreneurship, working in
teams, oral and written communiucation, digital competencies, solution oriented
and innovative thinking, working in an international environment, greater
jobmobility and integrity.

This demands a different way of working of the universities, with more
emphasis in learning from graduates on the new demands on the labor market
and with a constant adjustment of degree courses. European Union member
states could and should learn from each other in installing the empowerment and
enabling of universities for such flexibility. The Foundation Empower European
Universities (EEU) can support this. In this foundation correspondents of all 27
member states cooperate to collect and analyse data on the impact of higher
edcuation policy on the performance of higher education, interms of its societal
contribution. In addition it is important that universities in Europe compete on the
European level, so that students can choose to study on the basis of good
information wherever they want in Europe on the same conditions. The
universities that are attractive would be rewarded in such a competitive system.
This does not require a EU treaty change but rather a different interpretation of
the notion of subsidiarity. Research funding on the European level is more efficient. A European
approach to research moreover provides more room for specialisation on the
European level.

A European organization of higher edcuation and research should not take
place as a centralization, but rather with a decentralized implementation. A
European Higher Education and Research Area with competition between
universities within and across borders is essential for Europe to remain
competitive in the turmoil of globalization.




Jo Ritzen
Maastricht University
and IZA
Policy Paper No. 44
July 2012

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About Wilfred Mijnhardt
RMIMR is my virtual playground, a place to reflect on issues from my professional context, my job as Policy Director at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM). RSM is the international university based business school at Erasmus University Rotterdam. More info here: Here is my list of relevant publications on the topic of my RMIMR weblog: The rss feed for my RMIMR collection is here: Here is my other weblog on impact of research:

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