Panel discussion: What is the role of higher education institutions in consolidating democracies and in enabling societal transformation in the post-communist countries?

May 6, 2010 - 15:00 - 17:00
Event type: 
Event audience: 
Liviu Matei
Renata Kralikova
Sophia Howlett
Elene Jibladze, PhD candidate at the Department of Public Policy, CEU

Chair: Stefan Cibian, PhD candidate at the Department of International Relations and European Studies, CEU

This event served to start the initiative behind establishing of Higher Education Research Group.

The speakers discussed the issue of democracy within universities as well as the contribution of universities to build democracy in the outside world. Attention was also devoted to connection of universities with different stakeholders and reflecting their needs. The main conclusions were that in some countries (e.g. new education law in Romania) the legal framework does not deal with the issue of the relationship of universities with wider public at all and the state does not provide any stimulus for universities to be more engaged. On the other hand in Slovakia the law mentions active role of universities in building democracy and civic society yet in reality the universities are not at all active in this area. In Georgia universities are free to engage in cooperation with society, but they don't have capacity to do so as they are not clear how they should go about new functions assigned to them. Finally in Russia basic functions of universities such as autonomy are under threat and state is reengaging in direct management of universities while inteligentsia remains silent and prefers to stay away from having problems with the government. One of very thoroughly discussed trend was the overreliance on international policy models by some countries (Georgia, Romania) versus absolute belief in nationally designed policies (Russia). In the Q&A session the topics raised by the audience included issues related to financing of universities, the "decreasing" quality of the student body and the idea of success or failure of implementation of higher education reforms.