Higher Education and Research

Research Mission of Universities

The purpose of the project was to define a European vision of university research linked to academic teaching, a particular kind of research culture based on values. Non-university research would be included only insofar as it affects university research. Universities should be put in a position to carry out first class research in a wide variety of disciplines.

The activity was intended to serve the following purposes:

  • to support new member States in transforming their research legislation and structures or adapting them to the tasks to be defined in the statement of principle;
  • to provide advice for this purpose by suggesting cooperation structures in higher education and research and evaluating examples of good practice;
  • to allow all members to evaluate their policy with regard to university research and to create co-operative strategies to improve them according to the supranational, national and regional aims;
  • to analyse the relative status of free (basic, pure or fundamental) research, applied research and development – which enjoys general support – and the intermediate concept of “strategic research”;
  • to analyse the status of free (basic) research;
  • to draw the attention of research workers in the new member States to existing information sources about research activities so as to help them to find partners.

The following topics of interest were identified:

1. general policy considerations with regard to university research;
2. relations between university research and publicly funded external research institutes;
3. the structure and organisation of research within higher education;
4. the link between teaching and research;
5. the training and recruitment of university researchers;
6. working conditions of university researchers;
7. ethical issues in research;
8. the transparency of research results;
9. the funding of research in higher education.

Observers from UNESCO, OECD, the European Association of Universities (CRE), the Confederation of EU Rectors’ Conferences (these two organisations merged in 2001 to form the European University Association) and the European Science Foundation were also involved.

One of the main results of this activity was the Recommendation on Research Mission of Universities adopted by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers in 2000.

The full project report can be seen here.