Presidency note on the role of the universities in the Europe of knowledge

April 17, 2003

Brussels, 16 Apr 2003

Full text of Document 8153/03
Suite of documents 8153/03

No. Cion prop.: 5355/03 EDUC 10 RECH 22 COM(2003) 58 final
Subject: The role of the universities in the Europe of knowledge

Delegations will find herewith a text from the Presidency on the above mentioned subject, taking into account the discussions during the meeting of the Education Committee of the 2-3 April 2003, which has been drawn up in view of the debate in the Council of 5-6 May 2003.

The role of the universities in the Europe of knowledge

The European Commission, last February, adopted a Communication entitled "`The role of the universities in the Europe of knowledge``. It seeks to start a debate on the role of Universities1 within the knowledge society and economy in Europe and on the conditions under which they will be able to effectively play that role.

In the Communication makes the following observation: that "`the knowledge economy and society stem from the combination of four interdependent elements: the production of knowledge, mainly through scientific research; its transmission through education and training; its dissemination through the information and communication technologies; its use in technological innovation. At the same time, new configurations of production, transmission and application of knowledge are emerging, and their effect is to involve a greater number of players, typically in an increasingly internationalised network-driven context``.

Moreover, the Communication stresses that "`all over the world, but particularly in Europe, universities face an imperative need to adapt and adjust to a whole series of profound changes.

These changes fall into five major categories:
* Increased demand for higher education
* The internationalisation of education and research
* To develop effective and close co-operation between universities and industry
* The proliferation of places where knowledge is produced
* The reorganisation of knowledge``.

Finally, the Communication under the title "`Making european universities a world reference`` points out that "`if they are to play their full role in the creation of a Europe of knowledge, European universities must, with the help of the Member States and in a European context, rise to a number of challenges. They can only release their potential by undergoing the radical changes needed to make the European system a genuine world reference. There are three objectives to be pursued simultaneously:
* ensuring that European universities have sufficient and sustainable resources and use them efficiently;
* consolidating their excellence in research and in teaching, particularly through networking;
* opening up universities to a greater extent to the outside and increasing their international attractiveness``.

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