Links between business and the academic world need to be strengthened but higher education institutions must retain their autonomy and public support, says a resolution adopted on Thursday by the European Parliament.
Parliament calls on companies to step up their support for young talented people by providing scholarships. It also suggests establishing a European Industrial PhD Scheme co-financed by the EU. At the same time, MEPs advocate "securing small and medium-sized enterprises access to university education and research both by increasing public funding and by simplifying bureaucracy".
Curriculum reform
European universities are urged "to undertake innovative, far-reaching and methodical curricular reform". MEPs propose "following up young graduates more closely in order to assess the economic and social usefulness of education programmes" and integrating a culture of entrepreneurship into curricula at all levels of education, beginning with the primary school. The business world is encouraged to participate in designing educational material for this purpose.
Humanities, public support and autonomy
Nevertheless, say MEPs, universities should in all circumstances maintain autonomy over their curricula and governance, without any financial or intellectual dependence on business. "Higher education remains a public responsibility and therefore public financing to universities is needed in order to preserve equal financing to all fields of study, including humanities", says the resolution. It also emphasises that university-business dialogue should be targeted not only at mathematics, science and technology but should cover all fields, including humanities.
More mobility
"Mobility between countries as well as between universities and business is a key to achieving closer cooperation between the two worlds", says the resolution. MEPs ask the Commission to propose a legal framework for this purpose. They encourage widespread provision of student work placements and point to the importance for mobility of language learning.
Life-long and experimental learning
Stressing that "there is no longer any such thing as a ‘job for life’", MEPs point out "the need to match lifelong learning opportunities as closely as possible to the needs of individuals, of vulnerable social groups and of the labour market". Bearing in mind the ageing population of Europe, MEPs call on universities to broaden access to their study programmes. Lastly, they suggest further development of experimental, distance, electronic and blended forms of learning.
The resolution, drafted by Pál Schmitt (EPP, HU), was adopted by show of hands. MEP is a Member of the European Parliament.