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close this bookPolicy Paper for Change and Development in Higher Education (UNESCO, 1995, 45 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentForeword
View the documentExecutive summary
View the documentI. Introduction
Open this folder and view contentsII. Trends in higher education
Open this folder and view contentsIII. Challenges for higher education in a changing world
Open this folder and view contentsIV. Responses of higher education - A new vision
Open this folder and view contentsV. Change and developpement in higher education - The role of UNESCO
View the documentVI. Towards a renewal of higher education - The ‘pro-active university’ and the ‘new academic covenant’

VI. Towards a renewal of higher education - The ‘pro-active university’ and the ‘new academic covenant’

148. Advocated in this policy paper is a vision of higher education which, while recognizing it as one of the most important components of contemporary and future society, also calls for a renewal of its teaching, learning, research and service functions and ultimately of the institutions of higher education themselves. At the same time the complexity, interdependence and pertinence of many global, regional, national and local issues is such that dealing with them only reactively risks marginalization of the institutions which adopt such a stand, particularly in the long term. UNESCO, being committed to the idea of renewal of higher education, considers it essential that all forward-looking systems and institutions of higher education should build up their own mission with this broad vision in mind, which can best be described as that of a ‘pro-active university’.

149. This vision of a ‘pro-active university’ will also guide UNESCO in the development and implementation of its activities in the field of higher education. The goal of the action in which all stakeholders need to participate is to turn every institution of higher education into:

- a place for high-quality training, enabling students to act efficiently and effectively in a broad range of civic and professional functions and activities, including the most diverse, up-to-date and specialized;

- a place to which access is possible primarily on the basis of intellectual merit and of the ability to participate actively in its programmes, with due attention to ensuring social equity;

- a community fully engaged in the search, creation and dissemination of knowledge, in the advancement of science, and participating in the development of technological innovations and inventions;

- a place of learning founded on quality and knowledge alone, which inculcates, particularly in the minds of its future graduates, commitment to the pursuit of knowledge and a sense of responsibility to place training at the service of social development;

- a place that welcomes return for updating and enhancement of knowledge and qualifications as part of institutional practice and culture;

- a community in which co-operation with industry and the service sectors for the economic progress of the region and nation is encouraged and actively supported;

- a place in which important local, regional, national and international issues and solutions are identified, debated and addressed in a spirit of learned criticism, and where the active participation of citizens in the debates on social, cultural and intellectual progress is encouraged;

- a place to which governments and other public institutions can go for scientific and reliable information which is increasingly being required for decision-making at all levels, and which also promotes public participation in the decision-making process;

- a community whose members, being fully committed to the principles of academic freedom, are engaged in the pursuit of truth, defence and promotion of human rights, democracy, social justice and tolerance in their own communities and throughout the world, and participate in instruction for genuine participatory citizenship and in building a culture of peace;

- an institution well situated in the world context, with all its accompanying threats and possibilities, and adapted to the rhythm of contemporary life, the distinctive features of each region, and of each country.

150. This broad vision of the ‘pro-active university’ implies its creative adaptation in the process of searching for specific institutional models and practices which meet the needs, conditions and possibilities of particular higher education institutions, communities, countries and regions. Such a search for the development and change of higher education should also be seen as an essential part of the broad process of changes in contemporary society.

Responsibility for the actual form and measures of implementation of the renewed higher education system belongs to every country and to its academic community - yet in a fast changing world, no country can consider itself isolated from the influences of international events and developments.

151. UNESCO anticipates, as a concluding objective of the whole process of change and development in higher education elaborated in this document, the emergence of a new ‘academic covenant’ that will place higher education in all its Member States in a better position to respond to the present and future needs of sustainable human development.