Election letter - Lauritz B. Holm-Nielsen

Press releases 2011

During the recent EUA Council meeting in Brussels, EUA’s strategy for the coming decade was discussed. Furthermore I was officially announced as one of two candidates for the position as President of the European University Association (EUA).  Therefore I would like to take this opportunity to explain my position on key EUA issues.

  • Solidarity and cohesion of the European Higher Education Area. As bearers of cultural and societal development it is important that the family of European universities stand strong and mutually supportive not least in times of external crisis. EUA has the potential to voice concerns and facilitate collegial support among its membership.
  • Improving framework conditions for European universities. The global financial crisis has demonstrated the vulnerability of investments in higher education and research. If elected President of EUA, I will use the weight of the association to raise awareness among national and European policy makers of the need to prioritise research and higher education – a prerequisite for making the “Innovation Union” of Europe 2020 competitive in a globalised world while maintaining the rich traditions of European education and research.
  • Europe as a global point of reference in higher education. Europe has the most extensive and diverse higher education system of all regions. With the Bologna process Europe has taken the lead in creating a transparent and inclusive framework for international mobility and collaboration. EUA has an important role in using this platform to strengthen the region’s global profile, to increase international knowledge-based collaboration, and to make Europe a destination of choice for talented individuals.
  • EUA as a preferred partner in the design of European higher education and research policies. EUA should be proactive in European policy debates on higher education and research. Notably, the association is well positioned to help further conceptualise the European Higher Education Area. This should be achieved through high quality analytical work and the articulation of inputs in major policy processes.
  • Need to prioritise between EUA activities. EUA’s credibility is closely linked to the quality of its activities. The association should strive to achieve excellence and have the capacity to address issues ‘up-stream’. This requires EUA to prioritise its resources, and to add new activities on the basis of careful assessments of value added. EUA could focus its own work on issues that are best addressed at a pan-European level in addition to facilitating knowledge sharing.
  • Eliminating perceived trade-off between diversity and depth. No other European university organisation has a body of members as large in numbers and as diverse in profile and culture. We must not only respect this diversity but use it to our advantage and support a cohesive higher education and research area. I believe the organisation should maintain a core set of activities and be a voice for all members. At the same time EUA should further develop forums in areas of special interest, e.g. drawing on experiences of the Council for Doctoral Education and the Institutional Evaluation Programme.
  • Support EUA as a responsive and accessible organisation. If elected President of EUA, I consider it important to draw on the collective wisdom of all members and maintain solid feedback mechanisms. Therefore, I will work for further involvement of the members and the Council. My priority will be to maintain an open organisation in which all relevant resources are harnessed to the benefit of European higher education.


Personal background

My background is in the Danish research system combined with a year-long commitment to European and global higher education. I have lived 18 years outside Denmark and Europe working on the development of higher education and innovation systems in many countries on all continents. My working languages were English and Spanish. This has given me a broad appreciation of the diversity offered by higher education systems nationally, in a European context as well as globally. These experiences will provide an important basis for my work should I be elected EUA president.

As a member of the EUA Board since 2008 I have striven to raise international awareness among politicians, academics and other stakeholders of the unique qualities of the European higher education system and its tradition of independent research and research-based education. Among my personal priorities have been interregional collaboration and the training of the next generations of academics.

My publications have been on higher education, science and technology, innovation, globalisation, and tropical plant geography and botany. My latest publications concern the mobility of international research talent, reforms of the higher education sector, internationalisation and funding strategies.

During my tenure as rector, Aarhus University has undergone significant changes. It is a modern university and a signatory to the Magna Charta of the European Universities which has built its strength on the European university tradition. Under my leadership Aarhus University has professionalised management structures, merged with several higher education institutions and undergone a major internal reorganisation. I would be honoured to use this and other experiences to help enhance the strengths and unique qualities of European universities in a changing environment. My term as rector at Aarhus University ends in August 2013.

I would highly appreciate if you would make my viewpoints available for your colleagues.

Sincerely yours,

Lauritz B. Holm-Nielsen
Rector, Aarhus University