Go back

Research and Education – Most Impactful Together

28 June 2024

Jukka Kola, Rector, University of Turku
Mikael Lindfelt, Rector, Åbo Akademi University

Dear Friends and Colleagues of the Coimbra Group,

On behalf of the University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University we would like to thank you all for contributing to the successful 2024 Annual Conference in Turku, the oldest city of Finland. It was our great pleasure to host again the Coimbra Group Annual Conference and offer, besides the lively discussions and debates together with all attending, some glimpses of our history, modern architecture, and nature – whether hiking in a Natural Park or cruising in the world’s most beautiful archipelago.

This year’s conference attracted a record number of enthusiastic participants – around 300 representatives from over 40 universities across Europe and beyond. The interlinkages between research and education were discussed in various Working Groups meetings, workshops, sessions and at the public conference – thus highlighting the important theme of the conference: Research and Education – Most Impactful Together.

With the new mandate of EU institutions ahead after the European Parliament elections in June, we all have important key messages to convey for the new EU Parliament and Commission. We should emphasise the pivotal role of skills, research, education and innovation in driving success for the EU and its member states.

We should remind people – and be reminded by ourselves – that research and education form a reciprocal interrelationship. Research serves its general purpose best when it is translatable into education. During the conference it was strongly emphasised that this interlinkage should be improved even more actively, as educational programmes that are strongly linked to research and high-quality teaching are a key part of the societal role and impact of universities. Representatives from Universities and European Commission alike emphasised the need to strengthen multi- and interdisciplinary approaches in education and research to better be able to meet global challenges.

The EU should promote universities’ global role as responsible bridge-builders and knowledge brokers.  A strong investment in research and education is a prerequisite for Europe’s competitiveness, innovation activities and economic growth.  Research and knowledge, as well as education, must be seen as part of our security of supply and resilience. We should all be promoting the wider inclusion of scientific perspectives in political decision-making, supporting democracy and increasing scientific literacy, and creating attractive career paths for researchers. Protecting and fostering academic freedom is the single most important foundation for meaningful research and teaching which ultimately strengthens knowledge and, thereby, society.

Emphasing the importance of the autonomy of universities, the freedom of science and research, and the security of supply in competence cannot be repeated too often in today’s turbulent world. When that foundation is secured, universities and networks of Universities like the Coimbra Group and European University Alliances hold key positions in building a competitive and attractive Europe, and in solving the challenges it faces.

However, Europe cannot do this all alone, our role should be continuing to be at the forefront of solving the jointly faced challenges together with our partners globally.

Let’s keep the doors and windows open. Let’s be strong together.