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The Western Balkans countries have great potential in spite of the scale of the challenges still facing universities. Despite the problems, governments, higher education institutions and students share the common objective of creating a European Higher Education and Research Area, and of supporting the fundamental premises of the Lisbon Strategy that knowledge societies and economies can only be realised through strong and socially responsive higher education institutions. While these goals are shared throughout Europe, they are particularly pertinent for the Western Balkan countries. Growth and the creation of jobs is of the utmost urgency and action is required now if this is to be achieved.

Therefore priority has to be given to increasing investment in higher education and research now as a key long-term strategy for the region, in order to meet both the current and emerging needs of citizens. All stakeholders should be involved in this process. Universities accept the challenge; action is required by governments at national, regional and European level.

Conclusions and Recommendations for Action adopted by participants in the meeting "Strengthening Higher Education and Research in South East Europe - Priorities for Regional and European Cooperation"

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