Climate change, demographic changes, digitalisation – these are the challenges that specialists and researchers in various fields have been attempting to overcome over a period of time. European educational institutions are forming alliances, where multidisciplinary groups of students and researchers look for best solutions to cope with complex and multifaceted challenges.
On December 9, Transformation of Higher Education: Alliances as a Strategic Direction forum was held in Lithuania, bringing together representatives of national and public institutions, visionaries in higher education, and practitioners from European Universities Alliances.
Presentations at the forum were made by Peter van der Hijden, Independent Advisor on Higher Education Strategy, Dr. Danica Ramljak, Senior Science and Innovation Consultant at the World Bank, Màrius Martínez, President of the ECIU University, Dr. Daniela Trani, Director of the YUFE Alliance, Colin Tück, Director of the European Quality Assurance Register, and Andrius Zalitis, Advisor to the Republic of Lithuania Minister of Education, Science, and Sports.
The forum discussions focused on the value created by Universities Alliances. The aim was to answer the question of whether we were ready for educational innovation, who was to take the lead on the alliances of European universities, and how global challenges were to be met.
Alliances based on cooperation
The participants in the discussion unanimously agreed that European Universities Alliances were not based on competition with each other, but on the principles of cooperation. Gintautas Jakštas, Deputy Minister of the Republic of Lithuania Ministry of Education, Science. and Sports, argued that the smart specialisation operating in Lithuania and certain priorities for individual fields of science made it possible through alliances to demonstrate our strengths and to emphasise our uniqueness. Mr. Jakštas believed that internationalisation was a fundamental issue in science which provided opportunities for new perspectives and challenges.
Prof. Almantas Salamavičius, art historian and urbanist who also took part in the discussion, noted that such alliances of educational institutions were building a new culture of science and education in Europe. “Now we are creating a space, a new culture of European universities and higher education institutions that is to enable their students, researchers, and academics of different profiles to speak the same language of science, to get involved, and to collaborate. That would be a great achievement,” said prof. Salamavičius.