General Assembly meeting focuses on the future of research and education following the coronavirus outbreak
On 2 June 2020, Presidents of The Guild met for the biannual General Assembly. Contributions from Themis Christophidou (Director-General, DG EAC) and Patrick Child (Deputy Director-General, DG RTD) enriched discussions on the future of education and research in a post-pandemic environment.
Presidents of The Guild warmly welcomed Rector Daniel David of Babeș-Bolyai University, on joining as The Guild’s twentieth member. The coronavirus outbreak determined not only the form of the meeting, held online. It was at the core of discussions among Presidents, who shared their responses to the pandemic, discussed current challenges, and explored how it would affect universities in the long run.
Together with Themis Christophidou, Director-General of the European Commission’s DG for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture, Presidents reflected on the future priorities of the European Education Area, in light of the challenges posed by Covid-19. They raised questions related to inclusion, mobility and digital learning, pointing to the potential worsening of disparities in access to education. Crucially, Presidents agreed that how the future of education would change – and how it should not change – through the epidemic should be critical a critical discussion at the national and European levels. Keeping in mind the recently presented long-term budget proposal for the European Union, members stressed the importance of Erasmus+ for future generations, noting that we needed a stronger budget for Erasmus+ both to underline the importance of mobility and to provide for digitalisation.
Patrick Child, Deputy Director-General of the European Commission’s DG for Research and Innovation also joined The Guild’s General Assembly meeting and Presidents exchanged views on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Horizon Europe and the European Research Area. The role of fundamental science was at the centre stage of discussions. In that context, Presidents argued for an ambitious investment in the European Research Council, urging the Commission to appoint an interim President quickly, and to ensure that the Scientific Council was closely involved in the choice of the next President. The importance of research excellence in Horizon Europe was underlined by Presidents, who also stressed the need to see a positive outcome emerging from the current Brexit negotiations, with full UK participation in Horizon Europe.
In addition to the election of the new Board of The Guild, Presidents also confirmed the re-appointment of Jan Palmowski as Secretary-General of The Guild. Following his re-appointment, Palmowski said: “My re-appointment is a strong vote of confidence in our work over the past three years. As such, this is also a huge compliment to all my colleagues at The Guild office, and to the active contributions of our colleagues in our working groups.”