Publication date: 24/11/15
On 20 and 21 November 2015, the rectors of the League of European Research Universities (LERU) gathered at Imperial College London. They discussed various research related topics such as open access, Horizon 2020, quality culture in doctoral education and recent developments in EU research & innovation policies.
Dr Wolfgang Burtscher, Deputy Director-General of DG Research & Innovation, European Commission (EC), gave a state of affairs of Horizon 2020. Burtscher and the rectors exchanged views, among other things, on the evaluation of the first H2020 results, the LERU response to the EC’s simplification survey and the ERC funding activities 2007-2013. The rectors were also much concerned with the H2020 budget. LERU has spoken up on several occasions to defend this budget, first against cuts in favour of EFSI and more recently against cutting the 2016 Horizon 2020 budget by the Council of Ministers. With the statement on open access, LERU called upon universities and individual researchers to sign a petition claiming that research funding should to go research instead of to publishers. More than 6,000 signatures have already been collected and more will certainly follow. The petition and signatures will be handed over to Research Commissioner Carlos Moedas and the Dutch Research Secretary of State, Sander Dekker, at the beginning of the Dutch EU Presidency in 2016. Dr Paul Ayris, Chair of LERU’s Chief Information Officers Community, briefed the rectors on the latest developments and challenges. At their meeting the LERU rectors approved a paper on ‘Quality Culture in Doctoral Education’ for publication. Doctoral programmes at LERU universities aim to train the next generation of researchers to the highest skill levels in order to launch creative, critical and autonomous intellectual risk takers who will push back the frontiers of research. The paper explains how universities can try to ensure that these objectives will be achieved. Ideas and examples are provided on how LERU universities develop and review quality culture and where quality assessment procedures could be usefully implemented. On the evening of 20 November and upon the invitation of Imperial’s President, Prof. Alice Gast, a network event took place at the Natural History Museum. Keynote speaker of the evening was Mr. Andrew Wolstenholme, CEO of Crossrail. A selected group of high-level London-based alumni of LERU universities were invited to attend and meet with the rectors.