Context and stakes
What is the ambition of Strasbourg University?
Within the global context of developing higher education and research, Strasbourg University will be raising the following challenges:
- Reinforcing and developing research at the highest level
- Offering a more diversified learning structure, backed by the exceptionally broad spectrum of disciplines available at Strasbourg
- Underscoring a European identity already established and held high by the "Strasbourg, European city" label
- Achieving a strong institutional weight
- Performing all the tasks inherent in being a modern university and public service in touch with the outside world
Ever more fruitful research due to an inter-disciplinary environment
The building of a single Strasbourg University must go beyond the mere juxtaposition of the 3 universities and implies a major overhaul of the current structure. The University will afford a propitious environment for the development of research at the interface of the various disciplines, thereby providing the perfect backdrop for innovation. One of the key factors today is to organise university research to meet the requirements of scientific and societal issues more efficiently, and this requires the coordinated competences of the materials sciences, life sciences, earth sciences, environmental and space sciences, economic and management sciences, human and social sciences, political sciences and law. Furthermore, the challenges raised by nanomaterials, GMOs and global warming cannot be overcome without taking into account the ethical, philosophical and social implications. Strasbourg University must therefore create a space for cross-disciplinary encounters. A single University will facilitate this inter-disciplinary approach, which alone can raise the scientific challenges of the 21st century and generate new, original and fruitful avenues of thought.
Higher education answering the professional ambitions of our students
Here again, the inter-disciplinary approach generated by the creation of the single Strasbourg University presents a unique opportunity for students in terms of disciplinary and thematic diversity, and will increase the possibility of composing a degree course that matches their personal project. With the development of new activities and the emergence of new professions at the crossroads of several scientific disciplines, degrees offering cross-disciplinary qualifications will have the edge on the labour market. The full palette of disciplines within the single University gives students the opportunity of building a degree course with components that are in line with their prospective careers on a European labour market.
In 2007, 1.5 million young Europeans studied outside their country of origin. Student mobility will be on the increase in the coming years, backed by the implementation of a common European architecture for higher education under the Bologna Process. Attracting students is a major objective for Strasbourg University. As the major stakeholders in the University, the students contribute to the development of the local economy, together with the research laboratories. Strasbourg University shall pursue the work of the 3 universities currently underway to maintain and develop Strasbourg's reputation as a key university city and increase its appeal to attract students from France and abroad who wish to enrol here.
Underscoring its European identityStrasbourg's European identity is largely based on its specific history and geographical position. From these solid foundations, Strasbourg University must now forge ahead.
First and foremost, it must reinforce the complementarity of its prime assets: a Europe-oriented research force and educational offer, a firm anchorage in a remarkable cross-border and European environment and a rich, well-preserved material, cultural and intellectual university heritage.
The international dimension of Strasbourg University is already clearly visible through its multi-cultural population and the many students, lecturers and researchers who come from abroad, attracted by the solid reputation of the degree courses and research laboratories. The recruiting policy beyond our borders will be developed and foreign languages underlined at every level. Students and administrative staff will be made aware of this essential dimension and encouraged to learn the languages of "our neighbours". The University is already a member of European university networks such as EUCOR and LERU. It shall undertake new dynamic, targeted cooperation agreements with foreign universities, especially in Europe, so as to develop its international educational offer and reinforce its European laboratories. Furthermore, no international educational offer would be complete without developing industrial partnerships on a European level. The underlying objective here is to optimise the professional integration of graduates and post-graduates and offer students the best learning opportunities by increasing their linguistic, intercultural and technical skills.
The single, renovated Strasbourg University forms a gateway to its social, cultural and economic environment, and will be at the forefront of the international scene, enhancing its power of attraction for very best researchers and lecturers from abroad.
Defending our academic values and promoting a model for a forward-looking university institution
Over the years, Competitive Centres, Centres for research and higher education (PRES), thematic networks for advanced research (RTRA), and, of course, the National Research Agency (ANR) have been set up, reflecting the French strategy of giving priority to research on projects that bring the academic and economic worlds together, and fostering research laboratories called "centres of excellence" by allocating them a large share of the national research budget. This strategy is viable in the context of an entrepreneurial concept of mobilising and transferring knowledge, where the aims and results are expressed in terms of performance which can be rapidly assessed. This trend is also observed on an international scale, as witnessed, by the 7th framework programme for research and development. The levelling-off, and even fall, in the basic grants given to research laboratories is already a tangible consequence of this trend. As will be no doubt the setting-up of university structures with different levels of funding, which may well marginalise whole fields of academic knowledge and bring fundamental research to a standstill, it being at risk by its very nature as it hardly lends itself to immediate recognition. Overall, fears are therefore centred on a destabilisation, or even a breaking-up of the University as it stands today, in its role as a universal institution for generating and transferring knowledge, perhaps leading to the disappearance of the very notion of a research unit.
In terms of research, teaching and training, the University can also advocate another strategy, based on a longer-term vision than the entrepreneurial concept. This implies furthering all the research and educational potential harboured within the University's walls and contributing significantly to the funding of truly fundamental research. Indeed, this type of funding is never wasted as such research always has a great impact on the learning process, even when it does not achieve its ends.
Accomplishing the tasks we set
A powerful, single University can conduct inter-disciplinary research over the long term, and this is the only approach that can provide effective answers to today's scientific challenges.
A single University can take on board the development of higher education imbibed with the "competitive spirit" that reigns over European universities today. It will be able to focus sufficient means on its research branch and develop an ambitious policy of own resources working at the service of the entire community.
A single University can confirm is specificity and make its voice heard in the decision-making process for higher education and research in France and Europe.
A single University can take on a degree of autonomy in line with its responsibilities and its mission as a public service, and underscore its outlook on the City in the cultural arena, and also in the field of scientific and technical culture, with the aim of bringing citizens closer to the scientific and cultural spheres.