by Julia Kostro, 4EU+ student representative from the Unviersity of Warsaw
Starting on 1 January, France holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union till July 2022. On this occasion, French delegacy organises events concerning the important topics in terms of further development of the European Union and its future. On 25 and 26 January, Forum of Universities for the Future of Europe was organized in Paris by the French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation.
Forum had its opening on 25 January during which it was possible to listen to the speakers from different institutions: Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth - Mariya Gabriel, Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation in France - Frédérique Vidal, Minister of Education in Sweden - Anna Ekström, Director DG EAC - Sophia Eriksson-Waterschoot and President of EUA - Michael Murphy.
During the opening ceremony students’ Manifesto on the Future of Universities in Europe has been officially presented and published. This document represents the voice of the students, their hopes and visions on the European Universities and topics of main concern that includes:
Multilingualism and multiculturalism
Cooperation over competition
The main part of the Forum took place on 26 January. It focused on universities’ and European alliances’ perspective on:
Strengthening the European dimension of higher education and research
Driving Europe’s global role and leadership
Bolstering Europe’s recovery and response to the digital and green transitions
Deepening the European sense of belonging.
Each of the topics was supported by the round-table discussion between representatives of 3 different parties that have an influence on the work - government, regional sector and higher education-related institutions. It was an opportunity to share crucial aspects from their perspectives and confront each other's expectations but also find common issues and goals. The role of Universities’ Alliances during their workshops was to present a 3 min pitch on their achievements and already implemented solutions to some challenges but also on the ideas of improvement. Workshops gave an opportunity to exchange good practises between alliances.
15 designated students from different European Universities had a chance to take part in the forum on-site. Their role was to attend all of the discussions and report on those meetings and share the main thoughts and bullet points from them and present it during the closing ceremony.
For me as a student it was a great opportunity to learn more not only about the work of the rapporteur but also about the collaborative work in the international and multicultural environment. It gave me the possibility to also test my English and public-speaking skills. What’s more important, it was an honour to represent 4EU+ Alliance there. I do perceive it as a valuable experience not only for me as a student - these discussions will be taken into account by the European Commission in terms of the further development of higher education and share some paths of growth to all the European Universities' alliances.