Seventy representatives of universities from EU countries met in Olomouc at the beginning of December. Palacký University hosted a two-day forum on the future of higher education. The aim of the meeting, which was held under the European Universities Initiative, was to exchange the experience of partner schools and discuss how to improve the quality of the participating universities in order to compete internationally.
A stimulating programme of lectures and discussions in the UP Faculty of Law auditorium was launched with opening words by the Deputy Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, Radka Wildová, and the UP Rector, Martin Procházka. “I would like to thank Palacký University for its role as the organiser of this meeting under the auspices of the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union with the aim to strengthen the role of Czech universities within the Aurora European Universities Alliance. The forum has become an opportunity to discuss and share practical knowledge, to network and seek synergies for future cooperation. Contemporary Europe faces many challenges, from the Russian invasion of Ukraine to climate change. This conference is further evidence that European countries need to work closely together and build a shared European higher education. In this joint venture across Europe, our universities must play a central role in addressing those challenges by bringing up the next generation of scientists and equipping them with the tools to tackle all societal challenges at the national, European, as well as global level,” said Deputy Minister Wildová.
Director of the Brussels-based Association of European Universities Thomas Estermann, University of Innsbruck Rector Tilmann Märk, and University of Rijeka Rector Snježana Prijić-Samaržija spoke about the importance and support of the European University Initiative, about activities related to the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union, and the ambitions and challenges of pioneering European university alliances. Many others, including University of Kharkiv Rector Tetyana Kaganovska, participated in the forum via an online platform. The Czech Republic was represented at the two-day forum by leading representatives of Palacký University Olomouc as well as by representatives of Charles University in Prague, Masaryk University in Brno, and Czech Technical University in Prague, institutions that are also part of the prestigious international Aurora Alliance.
The participants enthusiastically participated in workshops that formed the main part of the second day’s programme. One of the themes discussed in the interactive museum Fort Science was the current connection of students and academics with entrepreneurs. The University of Iceland, headed by moderator Halldór Jónsson, played an active role at the workshops. During the two days, the foreign guests had the opportunity to experience not only the lecture halls but the whole university town of Olomouc, thanks to a guided city tour and a visit to the Archbishop’s Palace.
“We have met the high demands for the organisation of the European University Forum, and our work on the preparation and execution of the meeting was appreciated by all the participants. I’m very pleased that we have stood up to this challenge, as evidenced by the positive feedback from the representatives of partner universities in the Aurora Alliance, Coimbra Group Universities, and the management of the European University Association. It has also been essential to establish cooperation and exchange of information with other Czech universities involved in other international alliances and to interconnect them with the activities of the Czech National Agency for International Education and Research,” emphasised Michal Malacka, UP Vice-Rector for Strategy and Regional Affairs.
The international forum has been in its way a preparation for the prestigious meeting of European universities, which will be hosted by Palacký University Olomouc under the auspices of the Aurora Alliance in autumn 2023. “The collaboration of universities across Europe and other partners from non-European countries is crucial for the development of our activities aiming for higher internationalisation. I am delighted that Palacký University has managed to strongly support the activities of the European University Association and the joint action of universities associated in university alliances. Our students, scientists, and academics can greatly benefit from this cooperation, bringing new opportunities for their professional growth,” concluded Rector Procházka.
Text: David Kresta | Photo: Petr Palarčík