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EUEREK — Result In Brief

Project ID: 506051
Funded under: FP6-CITIZENS

Higher education to shape up

While academic institutions in the EU have a good reputation, their entrepreneurial and international expansion can benefit from better policies and guidelines to maintain the level of education.
Higher education to shape up
Universities across the EU are revered as knowledge centres and as major contributors to a European knowledge-based society. However, as universities in different countries have very different funding and national planning dynamics, it is important to ensure that all can contribute effectively as knowledge makers.

The EU-funded project 'European universities for entrepreneurship - their role in the Europe of knowledge' (Euerek) investigated these institutions' internal mechanisms in order to produce recommendations that could boost knowledge production.

The project analysed national policies in various countries and conducted case studies of institutions, particularly processes and regulations regarding higher education. Euerek found that institutional entrepreneurial activities thrive when government income is tight but adequate for new initiatives and when income from initiatives goes to the risk takers and owners of ideas. It also found that these activities flourish when universities pursue areas where continued professional development and new research findings are deemed useful for industry or society.

On the other hand, the project found that entrepreneurial activity declines when core income from government is too generous or when it is inadequate for investment and risk taking. Restrictive financial regulations and traditional academic culture have also hampered entrepreneurial activity.

Another very important finding is that international activities could lead to more entrepreneurialism, although there are setbacks if this is not applied correctly. To illustrate, the project found that while universities in the United Kingdom rely on foreign students and distance learning programmes to generate income, Scandinavian universities are more altruistic in their international expansion initiatives.

Today, the UK model is being reproduced in Moldova, Poland, Russia and other countries, where it is much more of a challenge to maintain quality education. If international expansion is to succeed, it must strengthen the host country and promote collaboration through twinning, based on altruistic motives rather than just profit.

Entrepreneurial activity and international expansion were only two key issues among several that Euerek investigated. If a more harmonised approach and best practices emerge from the project, higher education across Europe could be enhanced considerably.

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