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Higher education and research form the backbone of European innovation and development, and with it, the EU’s global competitiveness and long-term ambitions to tackle complex societal challenges.

In this context, we must be guided by a common European ambition to ensure free and critical thought as a basis for knowledge, discovery and innovation. As such, we need a long-term vision and governance for European university policies, ensuring sufficient and predictable funding and investment and rules that enable rather than restrict. Therefore, it is time for a renewed social contract for Europe and its universities.

As part of the European University Association’s ‘Universities and the future of Europe’ (UniFE) project, the Association has developed key messages for the 2024-2029 mandate of the EU institutions following the European elections in June 2024.

In this document, EUA illustrates the pivotal role universities play for the future of Europe. As such, ‘A renewed social contract for Europe and its universities’ describes how - as independent actors – universities can best serve society and contribute to addressing global challenges, while listing the framework conditions they need to thrive.

With eight key messages for policy makers on what should be done at European level, this paper builds the basis for EUA’s engagement around the European elections. They will be supplemented with policy papers on more specific topics throughout 2024.

A renewed social contract for Europe and its universities

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