Exploring the social dimensions of the EHEA and clarifying the content of considering higher education a public good. Eric Froment European University Association Athens 19 February 2003. European Universities are constantly working at three levels.
European University Association
19 February 2003
The natural academic space: the world
The natural regulatory space: the nation
a new space under construction: Europe
The continuing need for a social dimension : a tradition to be maintained
The pressure of commercialisation: a new force to be considered
How to find the right balance? Or what place for economic factors in the social dimension
Fundamentally, international activities come naturally to academics but have no deep economic roots.
More recently, globalisation has become a phenomenon that is upsetting social activities. But pushing behind globalisation is economics
what is the impact of economics on higher education activities (international or not)?
Fundamentally, international activities come naturally to academics.
Therefore it is essential:
To encourage these activities
To overcome obstacles
To promote partnerships and mutual support
Economic factors were and are not dominant
More recently, globalisation has become a phenomenon that is “upsetting” social activities
Globalisation is the result of:
Technical change and the “shrinking of the world”.
The logic of economics and the unification of the world through the “market”.
How are activities in the higher education sector affected?
Distinguish between the growing influence of economics on these activities from the economic analysis of these activities.
Discuss the legitimacy and the contribution of such concepts as “commerce”, “services” , “customers” etc...
Social dimension of HE cannot be reduced to economics
Take into account economic factors and concept when adapting HE to the evolution of society
But at same time defend the role of non economic values which constitute the core of HE and are also needed by the society to reinforce social cohesion
HE has to be more open to economic factors
Introduce the need for efficiency and effectiveness, quality of services
Implement applied research through contracts
Take into account students’ employability and labour market’ needs
But at the same time HE must further the social dimension :
Critical thinking and of open-mindedness in students to contribute to democratic society
Not-for-profit activities to contribute to social cohesion
Blue-sky research and non-income generating research to contribute to knowledge development
Transmission of social values to the next generation
Need for openness: promotion of the widest possible access to HEI if you want to consolidate society
Access has to be effective
For entering Higher Education
And for mobility in Europe
It means institutional support for students to give equal chance to succeed in academic and professional life
Institutions have to be evaluated also through their added value in educating disadvantage students
Has access to be free for all?
European Ministers in Prague supported “the idea that Higher Education should be considered a public good…”
European Universities are ready to work for the public good
So the stress puts on “public dimension” in HE in Europe should be one characteristic of EHEA and avoid any attempt to let the “market” regulates EHEA
Promote social dimension means
Main focus on Equilibrium: Counterbalancing economic forces domination and short term tendency in modern society
Develop Highest access possible to HE for young people
But how to make it a reality?