EU: European universities to become "world-class reference"

The European Commission has published a press release intended to initiate a debate on the universities' role in the future Europe. According to the Commission, the universities face great challenges.

With the development of a knowledge-based society and economy, all Member States have to be able to increase the levels of education and higher training, the press release notes. The universities are centres of advanced training, research and local development, and the EU needs a healthy university system in order to become a "world reference" by 2010, according to the goal set by the Council.

According to the Commission's press release, European universities have less to offer their students and lower financial resources than educational establishments, for example, in the USA. American universities have far more substantial financial means than their European equivalents and, at best, they spend up to five times more per student. They also benefit both from a high level of public funding and from substantial private funding. Therefore, the Commission calls for new ways to be found of diversifying the universities' income, in addition to public funding.

In order to achieve these ambitions, the Commission wishes to launch a debate on the subject before the Summit of European Higher Education Ministers in Berlin, in September 2003.

The University of Helsinki also stresses in its recent strategy the high quality of research and sets as its goal maintaining its position among the best research universities in Europe. As a member of the League of Research Universities (LERU), it encourages research teams and units to network within the European research forum.

See also the European Commission press release and the news bulletin on the new strategy of the University of Helsinki.

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