UNICA, the Network of Universities from the Capitals of Europe, recently published the UNICA Student Declaration. In the Declaration, students from UNICA universities call academic and policy leaders across Europe to unlock the full potential of Higher Education Institutions in achieving better societies, especially in the post-COVID 19 era. To succeed in this endeavour, UNICA students stress that universities must put efforts into becoming more inclusive, sustainable, community driven, and concerned with wellbeing.
These priorities are in many ways in accordance with the ones included in the new Erasmus+ Programme and the rationale behind European University Alliances.
The Declaration is the main outcome of the 10th UNICA Student Conference that took place online in July 2021 and was organised together with NOVA University Lisbon (host university) and student/ youth organisations Erasmus Student Network, European Students' Union, and International Young Naturefriends. During the conference almost 100 students from universities of the network discussed their concerns and ideas related to Higher Education and its role in the society.
Recommendations to build the university of the future
The recommendations in the Declaration in view of solutions for common concerns related to European Higher Education include:
- Putting more efforts into inclusion and integration (paying special attention to students with disabilities, refugees and migrants);
- Enhancing the participation of universities in solutions to global challenges by driving change through knowledge and research, partnering with other institutions and actors (inside and outside academia), and promoting interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary practices;
- Encouraging students' "preparedness" and social responsibility through innovative curricula and soft skills so they become active and engaged citizens within a community;
- Promoting European and academic values worldwide, by turning universities into hubs of academic freedom, innovation, and truth;
- Set mental wellbeing as a priority in universities to promote the students' success as a whole.
As an organisation that shares the same vision for the future of universities, we would like to let you know that we count on you to support our mission to amplify the UNICA students' voice by disseminating their Declaration.
We hope and believe that the Declaration will lead to new initiatives and we are open to listen to your feedback and ideas.