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EUA stands up for University Values

EUA has felt the need to stand up for university values even more than in the past in light of the recent major political, economic and societal challenges facing Europe. It is undeniable that national and international financial crises, weakening European solidarity, growing fanaticism and political repression, as well as armed conflict in neighbouring countries, have an impact on higher education.

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In order to stand up for fundamental university values, such as academic freedom, openness, tolerance, solidarity and dialogue, EUA has been working vigorously to show its support to higher education institutions in these complex times.

As outlined below, some of EUA’s main activities in this area deal with:

  • defending freedom of expression;
  • assisting students and scholars affected by Europe’s refugee crisis;
  • insisting on the protection of higher education from violent attacks, improper external influence or intimidation;
  • campaigning to draw attention to the fact that these issues continue to affect higher education all too frequently.
EUA has also worked even more to rally universities to unite in reaffirming their commitment to the fundamental values that they all share.

February 2017

On 7 February 2017, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a new decree (KHK 686), resulting in the dismissal of another 4464 public employees, among them 330 academics. The names are published on the Turkish Official Journal. According to Turkey Purge, a monitoring website, the total number of academics that have been dismissed after and in relation to the July 2016 coup attempt is now 7317. EUA has many Turkish members and is deeply concerned by these developments. The Association continues to monitor the situation and is in regular contact with the Turkish Higher Education Council.

January 2017

EUA is deeply concerned by the executive order issued by US President Donald Trump and its immediate and unnecessary consequences on international researchers, university faculty and students. The order, temporarily preventing entrance into the US of persons from seven Muslim-majority countries, unfairly disrupts not only individual lives but is potentially damaging to the free flow of people and ideas that is paramount in higher education and research. 

European universities call for immediate rethinking of Trump’s executive order

15 November 2016

The first outcome of the decrees issued on 29 October was that EUA Board member, Gülay Barbarosoğlu, is no longer President of Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, despite the record number of votes she received in the elections that were held in the university on 12 July 2016. EUA once more emphasised its solidarity with the Turkish academic community, and in particular with its Board member Gülay Barbarosoğlu, and underlined the importance of standing up for university values and remaining committed to the internationally recognised principles of university autonomy and academic freedom which are under ever greater pressure in Turkey. 

Press Release: University autonomy in Turkey: First impact of new decrees

30 October 2016

EUA expressed concern after news that two decrees that impinged on university autonomy and academic freedom were issued on 29 October. The decrees published in the Turkish Official Journal state that from now on university rectors will no longer be elected, but appointed by the President of the Republic who will take the decision based upon three candidates proposed by the Turkish Council of Higher Education (YÖK). In exceptional cases a direct appointment of the university rector by the President of the Republic is possible, without any involvement of YÖK.

Press Release: Autonomy and academic freedom under further pressure in Turkey

September 2016

  • Turkey: EUA hosted a meeting with the Turkish Higher Education Council (YÖK) to discuss developments in the Turkish higher education sector following the attempted coup on 15 July 2016. The meeting took place at the EUA headquarters in Brussels on 6 September.
EUA Statement: Turkey after the coup attempt - EUA meets with Turkish Higher Education Council

August 2016

  • Afghanistan: EUA strongly condemns the attack on the American University in Kabul, Afghanistan that took place on 24 August 2016. A group of militants raided the university killing 16 people, including students and staff, and injuring dozens more. Attacks on universities, their students and scholars weaken or destroy academic freedom, have a devastating impact on research, teaching and access to education, and impair society’s long-term development.
EUA statement: EUA condemns attack on American University in Afghanistan

July 2016

  • Turkey: EUA issued a statement condemning the forced resignation of 1577 university deans and called on all European governments, universities and scholars to speak out against the developments and to support democracy in Turkey, including institutional autonomy and academic freedom for scholars and students. Turkey’s Higher Education Council (YÖK), an EUA member, responded with a letter to the EUA Board clarifying its position and the next steps envisaged as well as expressing its willingness to engage in further communication with partners. Exchanges are ongoing and a meeting between a YÖK Delegation and the EUA Board is scheduled to take place in Brussels.

EUA Statement condemning the forced resignation of 1577 university deans 

April 2016

  • Academic freedom under pressure in Turkey: EUA expresses solidarity with universities and scholars where academic freedom is under pressure, especially in Turkey where there are reports of retaliation against academics who have expressed their views on military action in south-eastern Turkey. EUA stands up for university values and calls on all governments, universities and scholars, as well as all higher education stakeholders to remain committed to the internationally recognized principles of academic freedom and to work towards constructive dialogue.
EUA Statement: Academic freedom under pressure in Turkey

February 2016

  • Refugees Welcome Map: EUA launched an interactive map to showcase and document the commitment of higher education institutions and organisations in supporting refugees. EUA is collecting data on their initiatives and activities via a brief survey and presenting them in this map, which will be continuously updated. The campaign began in Europe but is open to institutions and organisations around the world.

January 2016

  • Pakistan: On 20 January 2016 a group of militants stormed the Bacha Khan University killing and injuring dozens of students and staff members. EUA would like to express its remorse for the victims and its solidarity with the university. The Association would also like to draw attention not only to the barbarity of these attacks, but also to the appalling reality that such attacks continue to happen around the world.

Press Release: Protect Universities from Attack (Pakistan) 

  • Turkey: EUA would like to express its concern for the academics in Turkey being investigated for expressing their views, under the petition “We Will not be a Party to this Crime”, on the conflict in the South-East region. EUA would also like to underline that, irrespective of the content of the petition, freedom of expression is a core university value and a sine qua non of democratic societies.

Press Statement: EUA deeply concerned about Turkey’s treatment of academics

November 2015

  • European Universities for an Open World: EUA launched a campaign calling on universities and their communities to reassert their commitment to the fundamental values of openness, tolerance and solidarity, by opposing any form of racism, discrimination and national stereotyping; by unreservedly committing to an open society. This campaign was launched to protect university values against the backdrop of the ongoing refugee crisis.

Press Release: European Universities for an Open World 

  • France: Many students, teachers and researchers are among the victims of the 13 November terrorist attack in Paris, and on behalf of the European university community EUA sends a message of solidarity and support to the French Conférence des Présidents d’Université (CPU) echoing their message “#Universitédebout – #NousSommesUnis.”

#Universitédebout – #NousSommesUnis

October 2015

  • Science4Refugees: EUA supports the European Commission’s “Science4Refugees” initiative to help refugee scientists and researchers find suitable jobs through the EURAXESS – Researchers in Motion portal.

EUA supports Science4Refugees 

  • EUA Statement on the refugee crisis: EUA Council called on policy makers at both EU and member state level and HEIs in Europe to enable refugee students to gain access to higher education.

Press Statement: European universities’ response to the refugee crisis 

Press Release: EUA: “Enable refugee students to gain access to higher education

September 2015

  • Entry of third-country nationals for research, studies and training: EUA welcomes the initiative to revise the Directive on the conditions of third country nationals for the purpose of research, study, pupil exchange, remunerated and unremunerated training voluntary service and au pairing.

 EUA Statement on the Visa directive

April 2015

  • Kenya: Following the terrorist attack that unfolded at Garissa University College in Kenya on 2 April killing 147 students, EUA encouraged all European universities to observe one minute’s silence on 27 April 2015 in remembrance of all those killed in and affected by the attack on Garissa and by other attacks on universities and university values around the world. 

Press Release: Universities unite in one minute silence against violence

January 2015

  • France: In light of the recent attack against Charlie Hebdo, EUA wishes to express its solidarity with the families of the victims and associates itself with the statement of the French Rector’s Conference (Conférence des présidents d'université - CPU) in reaffirming the primacy of freedom of expression, a core university value.

EUA expresses solidarity with victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack

European University Association (EUA)

Brussels office:
Avenue de l’Yser, 24
1040 Brussels
Tel: +32 (0) 2 230 55 44

Geneva office:
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Case postale 3174
1211 Geneva 3
Tel: +41 22 552 02 96