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EU higher-education policy

LERU defines its goals for the new parliamentary term

München, 05/21/2014

Voters in the EU will elect a new European Parliament later this month. In the run-up to the elections, the Rectors and Presidents of the members of the League of European Research Universities (LERU), who met in Helsinki last weekend, have published a briefing paper, which contains recommendations for the development of EU policy on research during the new Parliament’s term of office. The paper is primarily addressed to the European Commission and members of the new European Parliament which will convene during the summer. Die League of European Research Universities (LERU), of which LMU Munich is a founding member, is an association of 21 leading, research-intensive European universities. Its aim is to contribute to the shaping of higher education and research policies in the EU, to ensure that European universities are provided with an environment that optimally nurtures excellence in teaching and research.

In the new briefing paper, entitled “An ERA of change”, LERU argues that the new EU Commission and the new European Parliament (EP) should set concrete and ambitious goals for the coming five years. For example, the document recommends that measures to complete the construction of the European Research Area should be vigorously pursued – by promoting closer collaboration between the EU, its member states and research institutions, such as the universities.

LERU points specifically to the need for regulatory action on the issue of open access, i.e., ensuring that researchers have unfettered online access to the scientific literature. According to Kurt Deketelaere, LERU’s Secretary-General: “The Commission should seriously consider introducing specific legislative measures in those few cases where the internal market for research and innovation is distorted and where real progress cannot be achieved by voluntary initiatives by member states alone.” According to LERU, this could include an initiative on open access, an area where we risk ending up with 28 different systems, which would be disastrous.”

LERU also suggests that, during the lifetime of the next EP, the EU should intensify efforts to coordinate its political strategies with global initiatives, on the one hand, and with the long-term perspectives being developed by the universities, on the other. In this context, the Humanities and Social Sciences should receive more attention than hitherto. The promotion of scientific integrity, enhanced exchange between science and society, and a political approach which recognizes that the scientific endeavor is characterized by unrelenting change should be placed at the top of the agenda.

Since its foundation more than 10 years ago, LERU has been actively involved in all of these issues. The network is presently developing a number of detailed position papers on many of these key topics, which will then be communicated to decision-makers in the EU in the course of this year. LERU also intends to strengthen its contacts with other international university associations, in North America and China, for example – with the aim of setting up a World Council of Research-Intensive Universities.

The latest position paper and other LERU publications can be downloaded free from the LERU website.