Wednesday 19th of July 2017

A ‘G7 manifesto’ for higher education

18 July 2017

“Universities are the oldest type of institution in the western world, after the church… they have frequently been drivers for change, improving the existing status of science, human capital and quality of life, and being a strong promoter of intellectual learning.”

A new manifesto for higher education, endorsed by the G7 and backed by The Varkey Foundation, urges universities to promote sustainability, democracy, development and global citizenship.

The manifesto was announced by Italy’s minister of education, universities and research at the end of a two-day conference on higher education at the University of Udine. The conference, “G7 University: Education for all”, was organized by the Italian government on 29-30 June as part of a series of events to mark its presidency of the G7.

The event brought together leading academics from universities around the world to discuss the future of higher education – in particular the challenge to ensure that people of all backgrounds and ages have the opportunity to study at higher-learning institutions.

The Varkey Foundation’s director of programmes, Desmond Bermingham, chaired the conference’s final roundtable on “Education for all”. The foundation was among the groups which contributed to the content of the draft manifesto, announced at the end of the conference.

The conference’s organizers have now published the recommendations as short and long documents. They urge universities to take action across four key areas: sustainability, democratic participation and social mobility, economic development, and global citizenship.

Among the key recommendations are calls to:

  • Make global citizenship a field of study and research;
  • Boost access to higher education for women and girls, in particular to science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses;
  • Involve teachers and professors in “a massive educational initiative” on sustainable development;
  • Support the creation of partnerships between universities in the Global North and South; and:
  • Expand the mobility of students and university faculties around the globe.

The Varkey Foundation is already active in many of these areas. In March 2017, the foundation announced it was forming new alliances to work on the issues of global citizenship, teachers, and university partnerships. These expert groups, made up of leading thinkers from academia, government and business, are now working to change the way that we think about some of education’s most important challenges.

The foundation is also committed to working with universities to further its mission of ensuring every child has a good teacher, through partnerships that build the capacity of teachers, further educational research, and celebrate the vital role teachers play in transforming children’s lives.

 

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