The university of tomorrow will not look unlike the great colleges of the Renaissance when there was a single community of international scholars linked by a common language, according to Sir Ron Dearing, chairman of the Schools Curriculum and Assessment Authority.
Sir Ron said that "higher education will become an increasingly EC based pursuit, with a resonance back to the days when all educated men had mastered Latin as the scholarly means of communication, and there was a European community of scholars." He was speaking just two weeks after the United Kingdom launch of the European scheme for promoting trans-national vocational links between the university and business communities which is named after the epitome of the Renaissance Man Leonardo da Vinci.
He said the European Union is becoming a major source of funding for trans-national research, and he added that universities should take advantage of the fact that English is now the new international language by developing a section in their strategic and annual operating plans on how to capitalise on this opportunity.
In a wide-ranging Liverpool University lecture on education and training beyond the year 2000, Sir Ron continued an implicit "Renaissance Man" theme by pointing to the need for universities to offer a broader education than that offered by the traditional honours degree.
He said: "This is for students who do not see themselves especially as historians, geographers or scientists, valuable though these disciplines are as an educational experience in their own right, or as wanting to commit themselves at that stage to a course in business administration, law or engineering, and who on hearing again and again that many will be required to change their careers several times in a working life- time, will want a broad education, on which they can build a number of careers."
Sir Ron stressed that education should encourage "adaptability".