LEGISLATING FOR HIGHER EDUCATION AND RESEARCH IN EUROPE

1.1.1 The Legislative Reform Programme for higher education and research (LRP)

1.1.1.1 Towards open societies

Legislating for higher education in Europe and Guidelines to comparison Crossing borders has become increasingly easy for persons, goods, and ideas and experience. International organisations have played an important role in accomplishing this. Six years after the changes in central and eastern Europe in 1989/1990 when the Iron Curtain dissolved before the Velvet Revolutions and the old borders ceased to exist, it may be argued that Europe did not make the most of opportunities to prevent the creation of new borders. New tensions have arisen, nationalism and intolerance have come to the surface again, and on another level, many recent interregional initiatives may cultivate soft forms of isolation. This is why the indirect consequences of international co-operation should be carefully assessed in a broader perspective in order to prevent new forms of regionalism. Since its founding, the Council of Europe has been the European conscience and forum for co-operation in pursuance of democracy , human rights, pluralism, and the quality of life, laying a foundation for lasting peace. Central to this work is the setting of minimum standards and the guiding of change in many areas of legislation. Legislation is a guide, in particular in periods of transition. Yet, changes in society need to be set down in processes of legislative change. It would be a historical mistake to then allow the resurgence of new obstacles for democratic development, peaceful co-existence and co-operation for the benefit of all the citizens of Europe. Higher education institutions have two basic functions:< br />

  • to provide higher education;
  • to carry out research.

Only recently a third function has been defined: a general service-function, including applied research and technology transfer. It is questionable whether this function is new or only a derivative, but it is evident that higher education and research institutions have a principal role in and responsibility for creating and maintaining a society that is enabling, prosperous, democratic and open.

1.1.1.2 The purpose of the Legislative Reform Programme

The LRP has been an activity of the Council for Cultural Co-operation (CDCC) legislative since July 1991, when the first advisory mission was undertaken. The LRP therefore functions under the authority of the Higher Education and Research Committee and the strategic supervision of a Steering Group and is funded mainly by voluntary contributions from member States to a special Cultural Fund account. Following the Declaration of the Heads of State and Heads of Government of the member States of the Council of Europe (Vienna, 1993 ), the LRP contributes to the realisation of the main objectives of the Council Europe of Europe, which are to strengthen pluralist and parliamentary democracy and the rule of law in a concept that is known as "democratic security". The policy purpose of the LRP is "to stimulate and assist in the continuous process of development of the higher education and research sector, in terms of legislation and related policy development, as well as their implementation, with a special view to central and eastern Europe".

1.1.1.3 Changing objectives

The LRP is a support programme for new member States and new countries party to the Cultural Convention of the Council of Europe in central and eastern Europe. New policies and new laws are required to redefine the relationship between the State and the higher education and research sector, as well as academic freedom, institutional autonomy, the organisation and management of higher education and research, quality assurance, and realising full participation and co-operation in the European academic community. Reform, however, is not restricted to those new partners. Today, as a result of its natural course, the scope of the LRP goes beyond the immediate needs for legislative reform in central and eastern Europe. It embraces strategic reforms in higher education and research in Europe as a whole. In essence, it stands as a plea for the continuous renewal of legislation in higher education and research. Looking to the future, the LRP opens an opportunity for further development as a centre for consultation and legislative assistance to policy development, legal enactment and implementation.

1.1.1.4 The working methods

The LRP has devised four working methods which combine the study of legislative reform with active contributions to its advancement, and are therefore complementary to one another.

  • In the process of policy development and legislative reform and their implementation, advisory missions support the search for practical solutions to the immediate problems of the countries.
  • Multilateral workshops analyse issues of common concern to the development of the higher education systems, especially in central and eastern Europe.
  • Multilateral study programmes focus on aspects of implementation of policy and legislation in the host country.
  • The publication project is a series of studies, bringing together comprehensive country reports, their comparative analysis, and a theoretical focus on the selected topics.

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