Higher education cooperation for development and the Sustainable Development Goals: report from the EARMA/EUA seminar

19 October 2017

On 18 October, EUA and EARMA, the European Association of Research Managers and Administrators, co-organised a seminar entitled “Higher education cooperation for development and Sustainable Development Goals: Meeting global and regional challenges”. The seminar was hosted by MEP Bogdan Wenta at the European Parliament, in Brussels. Representatives from the higher education and research worlds and policy makers from the European Commission and the European Parliament discussed the contributions made by the higher education sector and research institutes to the cooperation for development agenda, with the view to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The seminar was attended by around 40 representatives from the higher education and research and innovation sectors, NGOs, policy making circles, and experts in cooperation for development.

The seminar programme aimed to share four key messages:

  1. Higher education institutions (HEIS) are important drivers for social and economic development, and advancing societal changes in general.
  2. Partnership and cooperation between HE, research institutes, civil society and the public sector in research, education and innovation contribute to social and economic development.
  3. A more integrated European approach to SDGs should be reached, with synergies through appropriate instruments and policy incentives.
  4. Engagement with HEIs cross boundaries between development cooperation, institutional capacity building, research and education.

During the seminar, African and European practitioners put forward examples on the role of higher education and research through cooperation initiatives and policies. Representatives from DG Education and Culture, Research and Innovation, and Development and Cooperation, as well as MEPs, also shared their views on existing European policies and funding programmes. Speakers and policy makers made the point that achieving the SDGs will require cooperation, co-creation of knowledge and joint solutions where northern and southern countries, HEIs and companies could work together, in an integrated approach. The central role of universities in delivering knowledge and fostering human capital development was underlined by representatives from the European Commission, as well as their proven capacity to collaborate with the private sector in a cooperation for development perspective.

EUA has had a longstanding commitment in collaborating with higher education institutions and associations of institutions in developing and emerging countries. In its 2010 White Paper ‘Europe-Africa Higher Education Cooperation for Development’, it laid out a number of principles for European universities engaging with partners in emerging economies, in Africa and beyond. In 2018, EUA will continue its work on the topic, as a member of the European Commission’s newly appointed High-Level Multi-Stakeholder platform to follow up on the SDGS. 



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