League of European Research Universities celebrates its first 10 years
“LERU is now the recognized representative of the interests of the leading research-intensive universities in Europe,” says Professor Bernd Huber. “We will continue to make intensive use of the network’s reputation and influence to ensure that basic research in universities is further strengthened and long-term planning stability is assured. In this spirit, we are at present actively involved in the ongoing discussion on the design of the European Commission’s Eighth Framework Program for Research, Horizon 2020.”
By issuing statements on specific areas of policy, LERU helps to shape the structure of higher education and research in Europe. Its main goal is to ensure that the universities are in a position to provide the best possible conditions conducive to excellence in research and teaching. Major emphasis is placed on the promotion of basic research as the indispensable foundation of innovation, and on the need for sustained public investment in this sector. To date, LERU has formulated 33 position papers specifically addressed to the relevant decision-makers at the European level. In these documents, the network has set out its views with regard to such strategic challenges as the sociopolitical role of research-intensive universities, the importance of academic freedom and institutional autonomy, and the development of effective measures to improve career structures for researchers.
History and organizational structure of LERU
LERU was founded in 2002 – as a forum for inter-university consultations and as a political advocacy group representing the interests of the leading universities in Europe. The twelve founding institutions were of comparable stature in terms of research quality and profile. Meanwhile, LERU counts 21 institutions among its members, but admission will remain subject to limitation. The most recent recruits to the network were Imperial College London and the Universitat de Barcelona, which were admitted in 2010.
LERU’s organizational form was consciously designed to be as lean as possible. At its heart is the Rectors’ Assembly, which meets twice a year. In the Assembly, the views of the member institutions on issues of university and research policy are presented and discussed, and agreed positions are formulated. The deliberations are supplemented and informed by input from working groups that include experts from member universities. All preparatory groundwork, as well as everyday administration, is carried out by a Business Office, which has a staff of five and is under the direction of the League’s Secretary General. The present incumbent, Professor Kurt Deketelaere, teaches Climate Change Law at the Universities of Leuven and Dundee, and held various government positions in his native Belgium before joining LERU in 2009.
LERU’s Anniversary Conference
On the occasion of its 10th anniversary, LERU is holding an international conference on 9 -10 May 2012 at the Universitat de Barcelona. The theme of the conference is “European Research Universities: Guide and Engine for Europe 2050”. Leading representatives of the member institutions, together with experts on third-level education from Europe, the US, Australia and China, will discuss the current and future roles of research-intensive universities in Europe, and outline proposals for the configuration of European research policy. The conference will, for the first time, bring members of LERU together with delegates from its sister networks representing major research-intensive universities in the US, Australia and China to discuss issues of common interest.