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Turning university communications upside down!

Can we have any real idea of what the world of higher education will look like in 2020?

The pace of change with developments such as digitisation, globalisation and privatisation is transforming the face of universities that have lasted pretty much unchanged for hundreds of years.

With students travelling from one side of the world to the other for their degrees and MOOCs and online learning encouraging studying without leaving the house, the role of the university communications is changing beyond recognition.

“At EUPRIO’s 2015 annual conference in Perugia, Italy, we’ll be looking in depth at what all this means for our members – the marketing and communication professionals”, says the association’s President Christine Legrand.    

Sunday start for 2015 conference

The conference, which takes place from September 6-9, starts on a Sunday for a change.

It will be Christine’s first since taking over the association’s Presidency and she is confident that the venue and conference will match the last three excellent EUPRIO conferences held in Göteborg, Kent and Innsbruck.

Titled Turn it upside down, the conference will offer insights into the University, the marketing and communications department and the professional of the future.    

Time for hard questions

Paul Helbing

Paul Helbing

Dutch Steering Committee member Paul Helbing is chairing the task force. He says: “With everything changing so fast, we need to stop for a moment and ask ourselves some hard questions.

“Do we still need all-round professionals? Or, will specialists play a more important role in the future organisation? If so, what future specialist areas can we identify and what skills will these new roles require?

“The growth of social media and citizen journalism has created new stakeholders and big data makes it possible to track and communicate with targets groups more effectively.

“What changes will this bring?

“And will there even be a separate marketing & communications department in the future, or will the universities organise this function differently?

“Many questions – and we’ll be offering some of the answers when we meet in lovely Perugia in September.”  

Perugia is a culture capital

The conference will be hosted by Università per Stranieri di Perugia (the University for Foreigners of Perugia).

The main local organisers are EUPRIO’s Milan-based treasurer Paola Claudia Scioli and Nadia Catarinangeli from the host university’s press office, and AICUN – the association of Italian university communicators.

Paola says: “Perugia is the splendid capital of the region of Umbria, which lies between Rome and Florence. It is one of the most interesting cities in Italy in terms of its artistic, historical and monumental patrimony.”

Nadia adds: “This is also a culture capital par excellence, and the seat of this important university, the University for Foreigners, the foremost in Italy and a symbol of open-mindedness and tolerance.

“Every year thousands of Italian and foreign students from over 100 countries meet, get to know each other and study together at the University for Foreigners of Perugia, in a setting which is unique in Italy.”

Christine says: “The programme will be finalised at the next Steering Committee meeting in early March. That meeting will mark another step in rebuilding EUPRIO in Spain as it takes place at the Universitat Politènica de Catalunya, Barcelona.”