An initiative by Universities Austria, in the framework of the Austrian presidency of the Council of the European Union.
In December 2018, representatives of the Rectors’ Conferences of Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Switzerland, met in Vienna in order to discuss what role universities should play in today’s societies.
In a joint declaration, they expressed their strong belief in the fundamental values of higher education: academic freedom and integrity of research and teaching, institutional autonomy, the meaningful participation of students and faculty in higher education governance, and public responsibility for higher education are key elements for its functioning and development. At the same time, they expressed their concern at movements on the rise in Europe and beyond that threaten the democratic character of our institutions and societies.
EUA and its members consider it increasingly important to proactively address the question of academic freedom, being repeatedly threatened and attacked globally as well as in Europe. Among ongoing activities, EUA is preparing an upcoming joint statement on academic freedom with ALLEA (All European Academies) and Science Europe. In March 2019, EUA will join (as a member) the first meeting of the taskforce on values set up by the BFUG Working Group 1 on Implementation.