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International cooperation

From 11–12 April Sorbonne University in Paris hosted a General Assembly and Annual Conference of the European University Association (EUA). The conference was dedicated to the topic of driving innovation in European universities. During this conference Baiba Pētersone, the Director of the Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) International Department, gave a presentation on the University’s experience in linking innovation and international cooperation, through a partnership with the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, to facilitate changes in the Latvian healthcare eco-system.

The conference focused on collaborations that universities develop with a range of external stakeholders in order to promote innovation. ‘Universities play a role of comprehensive integrators of Europe’s economic development and social cohesion [by] extending knowledge and addressing the challenges and social demands of nowadays, fostering free research, educating new generations [in] critical-thinking, creativity, autonomy and entrepreneurship through research-based education [and by] interacting with the economic sector to meet its needs in research and in life-long learning,’ said Jean Chambaz, President of Sorbonne University, in his conference opening speech that addressed the position of universities in innovation eco-systems.

During the conference’s opening plenary the European Commission’s Director-General for Research and Innovation, Jean-Eric Paquet, and the Director for Youth, Education and Erasmus+, Sophia Eriksson Waterschoot, discussed ways in which European programmes such as Erasmus and Horizon can support innovation at European universities. Speakers from various universities shared their experiences with generating innovation and creating contexts that are supportive of innovation. The concluding Hot Topic Session centred on the issue of artificial intelligence and its impact on higher education, research and university management.

The conference was preceded by the General Assembly during which the next president of EUA was elected. Michael Murphy, who has held various senior leadership positions at Cork University College in Ireland, will succeed Rolf Tarrach. In addition, several new board members were elected. 

EUA is an organisation that plays a significant role in European higher education policy-making. It represents over 800 universities and national Rectors’ Conferences from 48 countries. RSU is a member organisation of EUA.