EU University Associations Urge for Investments in Education, Research and Innovation

Universities Austria (UNIKO), the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU), the presidents of the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK), as well as all members of European University Association (EUA) have called on all EU governments to recognize the value of education, research and innovation within the EU Multiannual Financial Framework, through a common statement published on October 21.

The common document titled “Last chance to invest in European Higher Education and Research” comes at a time when important negotiations on the seven-year budget have commenced, and the new generation of EU-funded programs is expected to start in January 2021, Erudera College News reports.

According to the statement, the European research and higher education are at risk in the negotiations on the next Multiannual Financial Framework between the European Parliament, European Council as well as the EU Commission.

The document’s signatories have urged the policymakers to work towards significantly increasing the funds and enforce programs such as Erasmus + and Horizon Europe.

“Europe’s universities are world-class and well prepared for the tasks. However, to play in this league investments are necessary, also in view of geopolitical developments. The US is at the lead, and since 2017 China has taken the second place from the EU when it invested €370 billion compared to the EU’s €320 billion,” the common statement reads.

Moreover, the signatories have expressed their stance against governments’ decision to cut funding for European collaboration in education, research and innovation, claiming that if cuts related to EU’s recovery fund NextGenerationEU would be added, the student mobility programs as well as university collaboration, research and innovation could experience a total loss of  €16.9 billion.

Among others, the statement highlights that more young people with the ability of critical thinking and appreciation for European international cooperation are needed.

The study titled “The Grand Challenge – The design and societal impact of Horizon 2020” which has been conducted by the scientific service of the European Commission, has revealed that every Euro invested in European research leads to the economic growth of €13.

“Would you turn down an investment like that and then claim to have “saved” the money? This is exactly what is happening right now with our governments wanting to cut €16.9 billion for European education and research. Following the study’s rationale, our societies are likely to lose up to €200 billion in economic value as a result,” the statement reads.

The common statement was signed by President of the German Rectors Conference (HRK) Peter-André Alt, President of Universities Austria (UNIKO) Sabine Seidler, and  President of the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) Pieter Duisenberg.

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