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The Governance of European Universities post 2010:

Mission Diversity, Autonomy and Accountability

Hosted by the Wroclaw University of Technology, Wroclaw, Poland

25–27 October 2007



Wroclaw_town_hallThe EUA Convention in Lisbon (March 2007), entitled “Diversity with a common purpose”, focused on how universities can best contribute to social, cultural and economic development at regional, national, European and global level beyond 2010.

The Lisbon Declaration states that “For universities, the adaptability and flexibility required to respond to a changing society and to changing demands relies above all on increased autonomy and adequate funding, giving them the space in which to find their place. The common purpose of contributing to Europe’s development is not opposed to diversity; instead, it requires that each university should define and pursue its mission, and thus collectively provide for the needs of individual countries and Europe as a whole. Autonomy implies control of major assets such as estates, and of staff; it also implies a readiness to be accountable both to the internal university community – both staff and students – and to society as a whole.”

Discussions on the different elements of autonomy and accountability concern/reflect the changing relationship between the university and the state. This relationship is rapidly changing across Europe and this has a major impact on both the internal and external governance of universities.

Given the complex implications of these changes for university governance and leadership, two consecutive EUA conferences will address this vast topic: the autumn 2007 conference in Wroclaw and the spring 2008 conference in Barcelona.

The Wroclaw conference took as its starting points key European policy processes, and national frameworks – which are not always in line with one another – and analysed their impact on institutional governance within an environment characterised by growing diversity in institutional missions. The two working group sessions explored, respectively, the issues of autonomy and accountability, and their implication for institutional governance. The conference ended with an examination of cooperation and diversification across the sector and the changing relationship to the State.

Wroclaw conference goals

On the basis of key-note presentations and case studies from across Europe, the goals of the Wroclaw Conference were to:

  • Discuss the rapidly changing relationship between universities and the state and the impact of these changes on institutional governance;
  • Investigate strategies for optimising institutional autonomy and ensuring accountability taking account of the overall European policy context and the ‘modernisation agenda’ for universities;
  • Identify ways in which university leaders can enhance their steering capacity using examples of good practice from  across Europe.


The conference addressed to institutional leaders: Rectors, vice rectors and heads of administration. 




European University Association (EUA)

Brussels office:
Avenue de l’Yser, 24
1040 Brussels
Tel: +32 (0) 2 230 55 44

Geneva office:
114, Rue du Rhône
Case postale 3174
1211 Geneva 3
Tel: +41 22 552 02 96