Technological universities of Europe deliberate

On September 23-24, the 40th Anniversary Conference of Rectors and Presidents of European technological universities was held in the Vienna University of Technology. The forum participants proposed to create a joint and integrated innovation space of Europe and Ukraine for its post-war innovative transformation with the aim of Ukraine’s early entry into the EU family.

The first such conference was held in the distant 1980s on the joint initiative of the Vienna University of Technology and RWTH Aachen University. Then the initiators sought to create an informal platform for meetings, discussions, exchange of experience and ideas of the heads of leading scientific and engineering universities in Europe in order to accelerate social progress of the continent.

Since then, at their conferences, Rectors and Presidents of technological universities discuss topics that contribute to the development of technological universities in Europe and the world, and challenges that require a joint solution. It was this platform in the early 2000s that proposed and developed the basic principles of the Bologna process and Higher Education Area and became the initiator of many other progressive transformations at the European continent.

The main objectives of the 40th Anniversary Conference are to offer an open forum for the discussion of topics of great public concern that are not discussed in other forums, to identify differences and understanding of how to solve problems of common interest; to discuss new ideas and elaborate recommendations on specific topics and, thus, form a “think tank” for the future development of technological universities in Europe.

Almost 50 Rectors and Presidents of European countries came to the conference of technological universities. Michael Zgurovsky, Rector of the NTUU Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute was among those invited to the jubilee forum.

Minister of Education, Science and Research of Austria Martin Polashek, the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research and Culture of the European Commission Maria Gabriel, Rector of the Vienna University of Technology Sabina Seidler welcomed the participants.

At the conference, reports were heard revealing the entire spectrum of challenges and tasks of technological universities in Europe.

Rector Sabina Seidler spoke about “Mission and development strategy of the Vienna University of Technology”. Herbert Wulz, Deputy Director General for Higher Education of the Ministry of Education, Science and Research of Austria, gave a report on “European strategy for universities and the special role of technological universities”.

The report of the Co-chair of the UNESCO Global Independent Expert Group, Co-author of the report of this organization on the agenda of universities until 2030, Professor of Biology at the University of Oslo Daga Olav Hessen was about “Transformation of higher education for global sustainability”. 

The participants in the conference considered in detail the role and functions of technological universities in the future development of Europe. They listened to reports made by heads of technical and technological universities from Dresden, Brno, Eindhoven, Dublin, Turin, ETH Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and others.

Professor Rafaela Hillerbrand from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany, spoke about the research of artificial intelligence and digital technologies for humanity, about the risks and chances of machine learning.  

Professor Stefan Kuhlmann from the University of Twente, the Netherlands made a report on the development of complex socio-technological engineering, education and research in scientific and technical universities.

Sabina Maasen, Professor at the University of Hamburg, reported how the universities, together with the government, industry, and civil society, create sustainable solutions for nature and environment protection on the path to the “fifth spiral” model of innovation.

Jan-Erik Sundgren, the former Executive Vice-president of the Volvo Group and the former Rector of Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, expressed his opinion about the future of technological universities based on his experience in cooperation of academic institutions and industry.

Professor Honoris Causa of the famous Israeli Technion Institute of Technology, winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2011, Danny Shechtman answered in his report the question “Why should we teach technological entrepreneurship in technical universities?”  

Rector of the National Technical University of Ukraine “Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute” Michael Zgurovsky delivered a report “Post-war reconstruction of Ukraine on the basis of the Sikorsky Challenge Ukraine innovative ecosystem of the country’s technical universities”. During the discussion on this issue, the Rectors and Presidents of European technological universities proposed to create a joint integrated innovation space of Europe and Ukraine for its post-war innovative transformation with the aim of the early entry of Ukraine into the EU with high standards of economic development and security.

Answering the question put by the “Svit” newspaper correspondent, Michael Zgurovsky informed that the European universities show great desire to expand cooperation with Ukraine and its higher education system; he spoke about their readiness to make a significant contribution to the post-war innovative transformation of Ukraine. To this end, a number of European universities have already offered KPI to become co-executors of important research projects within the framework of the “Horizon Europe” EU program.