In the context of various events, the President of the European University Association (EUA) Prof. Maria Helena Nazaré and representatives of the leading Russian institutions of higher education discussed distinctive features of European and Russian education, issues related to the autonomy of universities, prospective outcome of Bologna process. The meeting took place in the Moscow State University of Economics, Statistics and Informatics (MESI).
The European University Association is the key representative of the higher education community in Europe. It is open for individual membership of universities, rectors’ councils, associations and networks of higher education institutions. EUA numbers almost 900 members from
46 countries all over the world. “Our organization mission statement is creation of strong universities for Europe and preparation of intelligent people for intellectual growth”, said Prof. Nazaré. With this purpose, the Association organizes conferences, creates work teams and specific target-oriented services and projects on a regular basis.
As part of this activity, an International Seminar “Open Dialogue about Universities of the XXI century” was held at MESI on November 16 where the EUA President elaborated on problems faced by many contemporary European universities among which were excessive control, underfinancing by the states, and fast reduction of young population, therefore students. According to Prof. Nazaré, the number of 20-25-year olds will decrease by 22% by 2050. Universities must implement new educational programs which should be designed for adults as well, including people that lost their jobs. However, research work remains the main purpose and objective of a contemporary university. “We have to nourish and cherish our research departments”, emphasized the EUA President.
“It is impossible to create a stable educational system of the 21st century without engaging research scientists, professors, academicians”, supported her colleague Mariana Patru, a UNESCO Program Specialist. The higher-education teaching personnel is the key driver for development and creation of an intelligent university, intelligent society”. Information technologies and innovations are of high importance in the process of this transformation. They must be integrated in the traditional structure of each institution of higher education. “Computer-related possibilities double every 18 months”, said Paul Resta, professor in The University of Texas. “This will allow universities to be completely electronic and to provide educational services exclusively through the Internet”.
Other Seminar participants spoke about the need to prepare school graduates that would most fully comply with the market requirements, to generate knowledge which would satisfy requests of each particular region. “A university must get out of its ivory tower and become a power plant instead of an oil well” – that was the keynote idea of the meeting spelled out by Ms. Nazaré.