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Why openness is important for sustainable knowledge societies

05 October 2017

On 27 September the European University Association (EUA) and Digital Europe, the representative organisation of the digital technology industry in Europe, organised a joint event on the importance of openness for sustainable knowledge societies. The event aimed at showcasing how two important sectors, universities and the digital technology industry, work and why openness is crucial for them.

From the discussion it was clear that openness, be it international openness, openness in the form of open science and open data, or inclusiveness and diversity, is important for the university sector and the digital sector alike. In the era of Trump and Brexit different sectors should join forces to advocate these principles. Much has still to be done to improve the framework and the conditions for this, and also at the European level. 

Concretely the discussion touched upon examples such as the currently debated reform of the EU copyright directive where open access principles are at stake, the EU blue card, an instrument to facilitate mobility of highly skilled labour or the new skills agenda, including measures to foster digital skills provision, an important means to foster open minds. Participants agreed that while openness was an important principle for research, education and the economy, a careful discussion should take place on the limits of openness, for instance with regard to data from patients or minors and in the area of defence. The same applies to openness in the sense of the free flow of talents which also bears the danger of brain drain, further disadvantaging certain regions and creating knowledge deserts. The importance of investment, both in research and education infrastructure, was mentioned in this connection. 

In the context of this event, EUA’s Senior Policy Coordinator, Thomas Ekman Jørgensen, dedicated a special blog post on why universities should promote open societies, where he also specified three views from universities on openness. 

Among the speakers were Paul Ayris, Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services) at University College London in the UK; Alexa Joyce, Director Education Policy, Teaching and Learning at Microsoft; Brando Benifei, Member of the European Parliament from Italy; and Peter Wieringa, Vice-Rector at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. The introduction was given by Thomas Jørgensen. The debate was moderated by Patrice Chazerand, Policy Director at Digital Europe.

European University Association (EUA)

Brussels office:
Avenue de l’Yser, 24
1040 Brussels
Tel: +32 (0) 2 230 55 44

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1211 Geneva 3
Tel: +41 22 552 02 96