Citius, Altius, Fortius: Mobilising the University for the “Europe of Knowledge”

Citius, Altius, Fortius: Mobilising the University for the “Europe of Knowledge”

Rómulo Pinheiro
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-7244-4.ch001
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The European Union's Lisbon Strategy (2000-2010) set a bold vision of a “Europe of Knowledge” where universities are seen as central actors. A modernisation agenda of universities has been promoted in recent years, focusing on the contribution of the sector to reaching regional and national economic goals. This chapter takes stock of ongoing national reforms across 17 European Union countries. Data pertaining to two key elements—societal relevance (in the form of university-industry relations) and scientific excellence—is analysed. The author discusses the findings in the light of conceptualisations surrounding the relevance-excellence nexus in higher education, as well as current policy dynamics and scholarly debates across the region. The chapter concludes by recommending future research directions.
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Higher Education And The ‘Europe Of Knowledge’

In Europe, policy makers’ interest on the socio-economic role of HE systems and their core actors (universities) precedes the current era. The sector has been part and parcel of the main components characterizing the ‘European Agenda’ for more than half a century (Corbett, 2005; Gornitzka et al., 2007, p. 195), both in areas pertaining to teaching (e.g. student mobility) as well as research (e.g. framework programs). Notwithstanding, it is undeniable that, in the last decade alone, increasing inter-governmental efforts geared towards the creation of an European Area for Higher Education (EHEA) and for Research (ERA) have paved the way for a bold set of reforms at the national level. Historically speaking, the European summit of heads of States (held in Lisbon in 2000) represents a turning point. Facing increasing pressures resulting from sluggish economic growth, high unemployment, and a decline in global competitiveness, policy makers articulated a bold vision for the region’s future.

The Union must become [by 2010] the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion. (European Council, 2000)

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