The importance of universities in shaping a more secure, progressive and prosperous world will be highlighted when the Times Higher Education (THE) holds its first world summit in Central and Eastern Europe, writes Nic Mitchell.
The event, titled Building a hub for world-class research, hosted by Palacký University in the Czech Republic from 24-26 April 2018, will discuss, debate and discover the ambitious plans for universities in Central and Eastern Europe to turn the region into the next regional powerhouse for world-class research.
EUPRIO institutional member Zuzana Polanska, Head of the Strategy Support Unit at Palacký University in Olomouc, said: “I’ve had the pleasure of participating personally in several Times Higher Education summits held around the world and I’m really happy and proud that a THE summit will now take place in the Czech Republic.
“It will be for the first time that an event of this kind is held in one of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.
“The summit gives us a unique opportunity to present and promote the region to our partners from different parts of the world and highlight the advanced infrastructure that we possess here in the Czech Republic, which allows us to carry out research of the highest quality.”
Discounts and bursaries
There are a number of THE bursaries, worth €400 each, to help those from some countries who are not receiving full financial support from their institution attend the summit. This does not cover travel and accommodation costs. See here for information about how to apply.
There are also a certain number of tickets available for EUPRIO members at a discount of €300 on the standard booking.
The programme and topics for the panel discussions will bring together high-level speakers representing different institutions from the region and speakers from the US, China, Japan and Western Europe to discuss the key issues for Central and Eastern European countries.
“These are not just related to research policy and the involvement of the speakers from outside the region will contribute to deeper discussions, thanks to their vision perceived from outside,” said Zuzana.
New Europe university ranking
The summit will also see the launch of a new Times Higher Education ranking of research-intensive universities in what it calls New Europe – the 13 member states that have joined the European Union since 2004.
The event comes at an interesting moment for the region, which has seen the share of national votes for populist parties soar in recent years. In the Czech Republic this saw the incumbent, Miloš Zeman, a staunch immigration critic, beat his pro-EU rival Jiří Drahoš with 51.4 per cent of the vote in the recent presidential elections.
The defeated candidate Drahoš, the former head of the Czech Academy of Sciences, will be among the speakers at the summit. See more about the summit and the full programme here.
Despite the rising tide of nationalism sweeping the Czech Republic and its close neighbours, Poland and Hungary, Palacký University’s Rector, Jaroslav Miller, said his institution is determined to press ahead with its mission of being open to the world and he expects to attract more international partnerships and scientists from abroad by hosting the summit.
He said: “While anti-immigration rhetoric and anti-EU sentiments played a key part in last year’s presidential elections, Palacký University will continue its role as a liberal centre for learning and research and will welcome scholars from all over the world.”
Phil Baty, Editorial Director of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, told EUPRIO News: “At a time of immense global challenge and conflict, investment in Higher Education isn’t a ‘noble option’ – it’s a strategic imperative. Universities are central to shaping a more secure, progressive and prosperous world – and their internationalist values provide possibly the best response to the rise of isolationism and right-wing populism across Europe.
“But – they’re also at risk from it, and this summit, 50 years on from the Prague Spring, offers an important opportunity to convene in the Czech Republic and explore these issues, and of course much more.”
- The summit venue, Palacký University, is the second oldest university in what is now the Czech Republic. Olomouc is the historical capital city of Moravia and is described by Lonely Planet as “surprisingly majestic” with the main square “being among the country’s nicest, surrounded by historic buildings and blessed with a Unesco-protected trinity column”.