“Higher education will change our societies even more”

Source: Portuguese presidency of the EU i, published on Wednesday, May 19 2021.

The Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU has concluded yet another chapter of the European Universities initiative, aimed at strengthening ties between higher education systems, research, innovation and societies, and expects it to be implemented in 2021-2027.

At the meetings of the Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council held yesterday and chaired by the Portuguese ministers responsible for these areas, conclusions were adopted in regard to this initiative, under which third level students, researchers and staff will be able to move between partner institutions to be taught, teach and do research.

The Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Manuel Heitor, pointed out that “the role of education, particularly higher education, will change our societies even more, in close coordination with research and innovation. This triangle has become the key issue for the development of European universities”.

As for equity and inclusion - also discussed in the meetings of the 27 ministers - the Minister of Education, Tiago Brandão Rodrigues, recalled that these two issues “are still an enormous challenge” to European education systems. “We must look at education from an angle that involves the entire community, promoting equal opportunities, inclusion and success at all levels. We need to do more to identify public policy measures that can improve this process”, Tiago Brandão Rodrigues stressed.

He also added that “young people are underrepresented in decision-making bodies, but the decisions made today will have a dual impact on their lives, affecting them in the present and in the future”. Therefore, he concluded, “young people must be involved in these processes and encouraged to take part in the search for responses to the different challenges they face”, recalling the work done under the scope of the Conference on the Future of Europe.

Sport as a diplomatic tool

Minister Tiago Brandão Rodrigues, responsible for the sport area in Portugal, also argued that “it is time take advantage of the huge potential” of sport in the foreign policy of the European Union (UE) in order to promote “European values on the world stage”.

As to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on this sector, the minister recalled that, apart from professional sport and sporting events, “training and amateur and grassroots sport” have also been affected.

Tiago Brandão Rodrigues ended by saying that the Council has approved conclusions on innovation in sport, with the aim of “guiding and inviting all the relevant stakeholders to contribute to innovation in sport, at all scales and at all levels”.