Commissioner Jan Figel spoke well of the national benefits of education - and the true benefits to a society that lifelong learning can bring. Autonomy, and responsibility for all of those in the academic space was highlighted as a must, and the twin, key points of accessibility and quality of content were reinforced again.

"Universities should take responsibility for their graduates. They should equip them not only with knowledge, but with know-how, and skills"

Furthermore, we heard more about the need for practical learnings within academia, so that graduates were well-equipped for the world of industry.

Research

A topic which was touched on for the first time was that of the benefits towards society that University research is able to offer. Research training can provide benefits on a national regional and sector-based scale. It is, however, to be noted that funding for Universities, and specifically research, is trending towards being funded less and less by the public purse, and more by the private sector.

"Knowledge ambitious societies should be prepared to invest 2% of their GDP into modernising learning institutions"

It should be commonplace for Universities to work with businesses, to provide relevant knowledge back into their society, and communicate the knowledge they produce not only within their own walls, but to their local area, their country, to the world.

Mindmap of the keynote

A Community Perspective

Please click to enlarge the picture.

Programs

Through the EQAR (European Quality Assurance Register), students will be able to view exactly the contents of a course they wish to sign up for, and what accreditation that course has gained. This will help to align universities around an International Qualifications Framework, to further reduce the barriers for learning that are associated with the phenomenal choice faced by students looking to enter Higher Education.

The ERASMUS and ATLANTIS schemes also helps to reduce these barriers, by giving students experience internationally - not through textbooks or virtual learning, but by actually living and breathing another culture, another way of doing things, another culture.

"The Erasmus programme, which is arguably one of the best-known Community actions, encourages student and teacher mobility, and promotes transnational cooperation projects among universities across Europe. The scheme currently covers nine out of every ten European higher education establishments."