"Stairway to Excellence" Conference calls for more cooperation between regions and universities
The "Stairway to Excellence" conference was organised at the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) in order to discuss the future of universities in Europe and their impact on regions and cities. The participants, who were academics, members of the CoR and of the European Parliament (EP), called for more partnerships between universities and local authorities and highlighted the role of universities with regard to regional growth. The conference also assessed the role EU regions play in education, and looked for solutions on how to modernise EU higher education and improve research capabilities to benefit regions.
The need for more collaboration between local authorities and universities to boost economic growth was identified as a crucial point in the discussions, with universities having an impact in terms of job creation if expertise is shared and investment in research and innovation is increased. Participants also saw a correlation between the prosperity of a region and the excellence of its universities, and called for funding for universities to engage with their regions. Allocating more funding to education was also a crucial point, as it would make EU regions more attractive so that graduates stay and contribute to economic growth. Speakers therefore called for partnerships to be built between universities and regions to share good practices, for creating job opportunities through investments in regional niches, and for more autonomy for institutions. They agreed that university excellence can only be reached if institutions and regions share expertise and link education with research and innovative projects.
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