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To shape the future that universities want, we must proactively engage with possible futures.

The world is changing rapidly. And with it, universities and their contexts are changing. Among the major external drivers for change are political polarisation, geopolitical tensions and conflicts, economic instability, and demographic decline in most parts of Europe. Not to forget migration, further digitalisation and the development of artificial intelligence, as well as climate change and the sustainability challenge.

In this context, universities need to enhance their institutional capacity to work with and influence change. This includes paying attention to early signals of change and exploring different possible futures. Strategic foresight and futures thinking help universities to proactively engage in transformation and shape the future, rather than merely being driven by external circumstances if and when they arise.

As the university sector takes ownership of this debate, EUA has developed its own vision about what Europe's universities should look like in 2030.

Universities without walls – EUA’s vision for 2030

Renewal and transformation are present at various levels, be it institutional, societal or political. The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated certain aspects of these developments.

Overall political developments within the EU, from digital regulations to enlargement and foreign policy, influence the political space in which European universities act and cooperate. Moreover, direct political interest in universities has increased in recent years. In 2017-2018, the European Universities Initiative (EUI) put universities and higher education high on the European agenda. In this context, EUA is actively looking towards the institutional transformation needed to advance towards shared goals, such as innovative learning and teaching and Open Science.

As a next step, EUA is engaging in a debate about “Universities and the future of Europe”. In its work to shape this future, the Association will explore what kind of European framework and means of cooperation universities need to best fulfil their missions in an ever-changing world.

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