Brussels, 04 Apr 2005
EU Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Multilingualism Ján Figel' has announced that the Commission is to publish a communication on universities and the Lisbon strategy before the end of April.
Speaking on 31 March, Mr Figel' claimed that it is the 'role and the duty' of the Commission to rekindle and frame the debate on university reform, and that this would begin with the communication 'Mobilising the brainpower of Europe: enabling universities to make their full contribution to the Lisbon Strategy'.
'In this communication, the Commission will address the strategic issues of attractiveness, governance and funding,' said Mr Figel'. 'It will call for a new kind of partnership between states and universities. It will also call for institutional and systemic reform.'
Reform is a necessity in a number of key areas, according to the Commissioner: universities should have more autonomy and scope for self-governance; full accountability to society; a creative mix of public and private funding; they should use fiscal incentives and fees; and ensure fair access for all qualified students.
Mr Figel' also emphasised that Europe's universities must become more diverse in terms of target groups, exit and entry points, learning methods and the type and relevance of research. 'Above all, we need to invest in change and modernisation within a European perspective,' said the Commissioner.
Perhaps of particular interest to the research community is Mr Figel's pledge to examine, together with Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik, how to relaunch the idea of a European Doctorate Label. The label would be attributed to doctoral programmes with a proven European dimension.