What are universities for? Is it time for a new deal?

Keywords: universities, excellence, meritocracy, competition, EU, Europe, higher education policy, research, societal challenges
Language: In English

The university is one of the oldest institutions in the world. The pursuit of creating new knowledge “just for knowledge’s sake” and of excellence in science is written into its DNA — and this will and should not change. At the same time, universities’ imperative to engage with society is more intensively recognised — and universities take this up in many ways.

In our deeply connected and globalised world, strong external and internal forces are impacting universities, challenging them to their core: new forms of learning and teaching, new forms of doing science (open science and open innovation), urgent societal challenges that need an interdisciplinary approach, diversity and inclusion, efficiency and accountability.

How do research universities engage and where are their priorities? While universities (may) have and continue to deserve a high degree of autonomy and freedom to determine their path, it is clear we need new paths for dialogue and new kinds of agreements with society. What are the implications for universities and science advice?