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Questions about MCU 2020

You are invited to review the draft document below and submit comments. Specifically, we would value your responses to the following questions:

You are invited to review the draft document below and submit comments. Specifically, we would value your responses to the following questions:


1. Magna Charta Universitatum 2020 - Draft for consultation

2. 22 May 2019

3. Preamble

4. A declaration and affirmation of the fundamental principles upon which the mission of universities should be based, the Magna Charta Universitatum was signed in 1988 on the occasion of the 900th anniversary of the University of Bologna. The first principle declared was independence: research and teaching must be intellectually and morally independent of all political influence and economic interests. The second was that teaching and research should be inseparable, with students engaged in the search for knowledge and greater understanding. The third principle identified the university as a site for free enquiry and debate, distinguished by its openness to dialogue and rejection of intolerance.

5. The Magna Charta Universitatum recognized that universities upholding these principles could take many forms under the combined influence of local culture, geography and history. Despite being explicitly the product of a specific moment in European development, therefore, the document envisaged a networked world in which knowledge and influence should cross cultural boundaries in the pursuit of human understanding.

6. In 2020 the world is interconnected in ways unimaginable at the time of the original declaration. Institutions of Higher Education have proliferated across the globe, dramatically increasing in variety as well as volume, scope, reach and significance. The number of students seeking a university education has increased exponentially, as have their reasons for doing so and the expectations of their families and communities. In the sway of new technologies, modes of learning and research are changing rapidly, and universities are under constant pressure to adapt.

7. Despite these changes, the potential of higher education to be a positive agent of change and social transformation endures. The principles laid out in the Magna Charta Universitatum are as valid today as they were in 1988, and they are the necessary precondition for human advancement through enquiry, analysis and sound action. However, they must be translated into action, and that is the reason for this new declaration. The dramatic changes outlined above require the global academy to identify further principles and values that the signatories agree are vital to universities around the world in the Twenty-First Century.

8. The universities, whose representatives have signed below, therefore commit themselves to uphold and advance the following values and principles, and to strengthen the role of higher education institutions in promoting health, prosperity and enlightenment around the world.

9. Roles, Values and Principles

10. Universities accept that they have a responsibility to be in solidarity with and responsive to the aspirations and challenges of the world they serve. Their discoveries, and the mobilization of those discoveries through teaching and public outreach, benefits humanity, and contributes to sustainable life on our planet.

11. Universities recognize that learning is a lifelong activity, that tertiary education is one part of a continuum stretching from cradle to grave. Even within that one part, universities serve diverse learners of many ages and at all stages of their lives.

12. Intellectual and moral independence is the hallmark of any university and a precondition for the fulfillment of its responsibilities to society. That independence needs to be recognized and protected by governments and society at large, and defended vigorously by institutions themselves.

13. To fulfill their potential, therefore, universities require a reliable social contract with policy makers and funders, one which supports pursuit of the highest possible standards of learning and discovery, but which also allows institutions to work autonomously.

14. As they create and disseminate knowledge, universities question dogmas and established doctrines and encourage critical thinking in all students and scholars. Academic freedom is their lifeblood, open enquiry and dialogue their nourishment.

15. Universities embrace their duty to teach and undertake research with integrity, producing reliable and trustworthy results. For this high mission and for operating in its service they are accountable to, and maintain transparent communication with, their stakeholders.

16. Universities are part of a global, collegial network of scientific enquiry and scholarship, building on shared bodies of knowledge and contributing to their further development. At the same time they are custodians of local and national cultures and crucially relevant to their preservation and enrichment. While they are immersed in and connected with global developments, they engage fully with local communities and ecosystems.

17. Universities aim to be non-discriminatory spaces of tolerance and respectfulness where diversity of perspectives flourishes and where inclusivity, anchored in principles of equity and fairness, prevails. They are committed to education as a human right, a public good, and available to all. They therefore commit themselves to advance equity and fairness in all aspects of academic life including admissions, as well as hiring and promotion practices.

18. At the same time, universities acknowledge that individuals and communities may, for lack of economic or political power, have difficulty gaining access to higher education or influencing the modes and matter of academic study. For that reason, and by virtue of their fundamental commitment to realizing human potential everywhere, universities deliberately seek ways to welcome and engage with voices and perspectives that challenge the status quo.