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IAU Durban Conference, August 20-25, 2000
                                   11th General Conference: Universities as Gateway to the Future
                                                                                Plenary Panel III


Virgilio A.L. Meira Soares
Director, Research Centre for Higher Education Policy, Portugal

Introduction
First of all, I would like to say that during these three days there were at least three points that came up
every day in discussion. The problem of the intellectual property of the universities in terms of
prediction of knowledge. We should protect our rights. On the other hand, there was considerable
concern always about the gap between developed countries and less developed countries. And,
finally, there was also major concern about Academic Freedom and its preservation.
Definition and Tradition
Let me address the topic of yesterday's work. Tthis has to do with 'Governance and Stakeholder
Society'. During the last few years we were faced with many new terms in our vocabulary.
'Stakeholder' is one of them. Of course, we can give many definitions of 'Stakeholder'. The simplest
one I found was given by Guy Neave in the red book you received commemorating the 50th
Anniversary of the IAU. On page 19, he talks about 'relevant knowledge'. "Relevance tends to be
defined by those who make use of the knowledge, be they students or employers or, as is fashionable
to call them, stakeholders and consumers." The concept of stakeholder is difficult and the concept and
its acceptance are a source of tensions in many instances. The concept is, for many people, more
connected to the market-driven approach, than to the traditional outline of the university.
Traditionally, it is recognized, at least by our Working Group, that despite all attempts to define that
concept, it depends very much on the stage of development of each society. Where some think of
stakeholders in the same way it was presented here yesterday, some or many of us think that the
concept should be approached with all due caution. Since, the links between university and society
have changed, as has the pace, being dependent on the variety and frequency of the interaction. Thus,
this new concept should be dealt with care.
Moreover, while we can imagine a Stakeholder Society in developed countries, where
entrepreneurialism is being praised as an example to follow, the Group felt the need to call the
attention to the situation in less developed countries. There where ICT, good working conditions,
even small investments are simply a dream; the Stakeholder Society lacks meaning or is meaningless.
In those countries, the real stakeholders are the students and the even the governments.
Implications for the process of Globalisation
In the era of globalization, it was felt that means and values should be shared so as to decrease
disparities. While universities in developed countries produce and introduce ICT extensively, in less
developed countries, that is not the case. Participants in the Group felt that this use and this
production should be available to those universities in those less developed countries. The use of
knowledge produced by academia should be at thedisposal of the whole world academia free of
charge. In this respect, the Group considered that the international scientific community is also a
stakeholder. On the other hand, the private sector should be prepared to pay for the use of that
knowledge. Universities should be prepared to protect their intellectual property. On the other hand,
the rise of a Stakeholder Society, at least in developed countries, does not mean that some common
problems do not exist, although due to different reasons. Universities are, in many cases, producing
graduates, who are ill-prepared to face the challenges of a fast-changing technological society. This is
the problem of employability. And, this is true in most countries. The Group feels that universities
should be aware of these handicaps and prepare students to learn how to learn, so that they are
prepared to engage in a multiple career life.
I would like to add that the Secretary-General of UNESCO sometimes talks about 'Apprendre à
entreprendre', which is broadly the same.
Governance and Dependence
The Working Group devoted little time to discussing 'Governance'. Nevertheless, there were no
doubts among us that the main stakeholders, the students, should participate in governance and society
should be called to discuss particular subjects.
Allow me Chairman to add something. If we succeed in decreasing the gap between developed
countries and less developed countries, this latter group will soon face some of the problems the first
group is facing nowadays. It is not likely that lack of funding will disappear. Hence, the better use of
resources has to be one of our main concerns. One can expect that diversification of funding and as a
result a strong connection with the private companies will lead to greater dependence on external
partners.
Universities, Democracy and Industry
During this Conference we heard, many times, that fundamental values and among them Academic
Freedom, must be preserved, but at the same time, furious competition is to be expected. It is my firm
belief - and my experience confirms it - that despite the need of collegiality, we are in a democratic
organization in the university. A strong leadership is needed to preserve the independence and the
autonomy of the institution.
Interdisciplinarity, accountability and contractualization cannot be left to individual initiatives;
otherwise you risk different policies in the same institution. New forms of management may appear.
They are likely to appear. But, hat universities should be aware that they should not behave as
industries or enterprises. As Grace Duke said, 'Industries will only come to universities as long as
universities do not behave like industry'.

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Durban p3 virgilio a.l. meira soares

  • 1. IAU Durban Conference, August 20-25, 2000 11th General Conference: Universities as Gateway to the Future Plenary Panel III Virgilio A.L. Meira Soares Director, Research Centre for Higher Education Policy, Portugal Introduction First of all, I would like to say that during these three days there were at least three points that came up every day in discussion. The problem of the intellectual property of the universities in terms of prediction of knowledge. We should protect our rights. On the other hand, there was considerable concern always about the gap between developed countries and less developed countries. And, finally, there was also major concern about Academic Freedom and its preservation. Definition and Tradition Let me address the topic of yesterday's work. Tthis has to do with 'Governance and Stakeholder Society'. During the last few years we were faced with many new terms in our vocabulary. 'Stakeholder' is one of them. Of course, we can give many definitions of 'Stakeholder'. The simplest one I found was given by Guy Neave in the red book you received commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the IAU. On page 19, he talks about 'relevant knowledge'. "Relevance tends to be defined by those who make use of the knowledge, be they students or employers or, as is fashionable to call them, stakeholders and consumers." The concept of stakeholder is difficult and the concept and its acceptance are a source of tensions in many instances. The concept is, for many people, more connected to the market-driven approach, than to the traditional outline of the university. Traditionally, it is recognized, at least by our Working Group, that despite all attempts to define that concept, it depends very much on the stage of development of each society. Where some think of stakeholders in the same way it was presented here yesterday, some or many of us think that the concept should be approached with all due caution. Since, the links between university and society have changed, as has the pace, being dependent on the variety and frequency of the interaction. Thus, this new concept should be dealt with care. Moreover, while we can imagine a Stakeholder Society in developed countries, where entrepreneurialism is being praised as an example to follow, the Group felt the need to call the attention to the situation in less developed countries. There where ICT, good working conditions, even small investments are simply a dream; the Stakeholder Society lacks meaning or is meaningless. In those countries, the real stakeholders are the students and the even the governments. Implications for the process of Globalisation In the era of globalization, it was felt that means and values should be shared so as to decrease disparities. While universities in developed countries produce and introduce ICT extensively, in less developed countries, that is not the case. Participants in the Group felt that this use and this production should be available to those universities in those less developed countries. The use of knowledge produced by academia should be at thedisposal of the whole world academia free of charge. In this respect, the Group considered that the international scientific community is also a stakeholder. On the other hand, the private sector should be prepared to pay for the use of that knowledge. Universities should be prepared to protect their intellectual property. On the other hand, the rise of a Stakeholder Society, at least in developed countries, does not mean that some common problems do not exist, although due to different reasons. Universities are, in many cases, producing graduates, who are ill-prepared to face the challenges of a fast-changing technological society. This is the problem of employability. And, this is true in most countries. The Group feels that universities should be aware of these handicaps and prepare students to learn how to learn, so that they are prepared to engage in a multiple career life. I would like to add that the Secretary-General of UNESCO sometimes talks about 'Apprendre à entreprendre', which is broadly the same. Governance and Dependence The Working Group devoted little time to discussing 'Governance'. Nevertheless, there were no
  • 2. doubts among us that the main stakeholders, the students, should participate in governance and society should be called to discuss particular subjects. Allow me Chairman to add something. If we succeed in decreasing the gap between developed countries and less developed countries, this latter group will soon face some of the problems the first group is facing nowadays. It is not likely that lack of funding will disappear. Hence, the better use of resources has to be one of our main concerns. One can expect that diversification of funding and as a result a strong connection with the private companies will lead to greater dependence on external partners. Universities, Democracy and Industry During this Conference we heard, many times, that fundamental values and among them Academic Freedom, must be preserved, but at the same time, furious competition is to be expected. It is my firm belief - and my experience confirms it - that despite the need of collegiality, we are in a democratic organization in the university. A strong leadership is needed to preserve the independence and the autonomy of the institution. Interdisciplinarity, accountability and contractualization cannot be left to individual initiatives; otherwise you risk different policies in the same institution. New forms of management may appear. They are likely to appear. But, hat universities should be aware that they should not behave as industries or enterprises. As Grace Duke said, 'Industries will only come to universities as long as universities do not behave like industry'.