On 12 March 2020, we as the Board of Directors adopted a biennial Work Plan from 2020 to 2021 and established the corresponding organisation for its implementation.
Our work plan puts the contribution of universities of science and technology to ecological, economic and social sustainability at the centre of the activities and deliverables of our network. It builds on the previous work plans and sets out the activities and deliverables of our association, continuing to build our association as the strong and united voice of universities of science and technology in Europe. This plan is the result of a broad and fruitful co-design between the consecutive Boards and Presidencies, the chairs of our task forces and workgroups, and the Secretariat.
We as the Board have also established the organisation to implement this plan and elected Mihnea Costoiu (Rector of University POLITEHNICA of Bucharest) as Vice President and Orla Feely (Vice-President for Research, Innovation & Impact of the University College Dublin) as Vice President & Treasurer therewith completing the Presidency from 2020 to 2021.
We look forward to working together with the over 600 volunteers and leaders from our Members in our bodies who dedicate their time and effort to advance our association. Collaboration, teamwork and friendship allow us to inspire and learn from one another. Most of the volunteers are active in one of our nine taskforces for which we, as the Board, appointed the following Chairs:
We as the Board also acknowledged the establishment of six workgroups to support our governing bodies and thank the respective Chairs:
In 2019, our Members educated over 1 million students, employed over 88,000 academic staff and were awarded over €3.1 billion worth of European research projects. Through our leading activities in research, education and innovation, and by working together, we play a vital role in catalysing the systemic transformations needed to contribute to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG). Our work plan provides us the guiding agenda to unite our efforts to be able to play this role.
Alongside the challenge of sustainability, key technologies such as artificial intelligence and bio- and quantum technology confront universities and societies with immense questions in the twenty-first century. When developing and applying them, our Members uphold values such as integrity, ethics and equality, diversity and inclusion. We will also reinforce our efforts to safeguard academic freedom and institutional autonomy. In this regard, linking the social sciences and humanities with science, technology, engineering and mathematics is crucial. I have published an undelivered speech wherein I elaborate on these challenges.
More broadly, if we - as universities of science and technology together with our partners - are to truly work together to confront the challenges facing humanity, then building the European Research Area is fundamental to this effort. As outlined in my recent opinion published in Research Europe, research can be a trailblazer for European knowledge societies followed by areas such as innovation, culture, education and youth.
In 2019, our General Assembly adopted the Declaration on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at Universities of Science & Technology, in which our Members collectively pledged to seize the momentum to develop a leadership culture in which effective strategies for equal opportunity are viewed as a sign of quality. Under my presidency, we will continue to strive towards our targets for 2023, including the pledge to increase gender balance in all our decision-making levels and advisory boards to at least 30%.
We offer ourselves as strong and committed partners in these endeavours, and we are ready to reach out and work with stakeholders who share our vision, foster our partnerships and seize upon opportunities to work together.
We as Board thank all volunteers and leaders for their contributions in advance and look forward to the collaboration with our Members and partners.
Rik Van de Walle
Rector of Ghent University
President of CESAER