Paris declaration on higher education in the 21st century

October 16, 1998

The biggest international gathering on higher education ever took place in Paris last week. David Jobbins reports on how participants saw their role

The main points:

* Higher education should be accessible to all on merit

* A more student-oriented vision of HE

* Core missions are educating, training and undertaking research. Others include the promotion of national and regional, international and historic cultures, the enhancement of societal values and contributing to the development and improvement of education at all levels, including through teacher training

* Emphasis on HE's ethical role, autonomy, responsible and anticipatory function

* All engaged in HE should defend and disseminate universally accepted values, among them peace, justice, freedom, equality and solidarity

* Equity of access; promotion of the role of women

* HE should reinforce its role of service to society, especially in assisting in eliminating poverty, intolerance, violence, illiteracy, hunger, environmental degradation and disease

* Reinforced links with the world of work with efforts devoted to developing students' entrepreneurial skills so that they become job creators as well as job seekers

* Greater diversity in organisation and recruitment methods and criteria

* National and institutional decision-makers should place students and their needs at the centre of their concerns

* Greater sharing of knowledge and expertise across national borders and the need to stem the brain drain, with priority given to training programmes in the developing countries, in centres of excellence forming regional and international networks, with short periods of specialised and intensive study abroad

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