The European University Association (EAU) is tasked with protecting academic freedom in universities within member states of the EU.
What is the European University Association?
The European University Association is the representative of over 800 universities in 48 countries in Europe. The organization plays an imperative role in the Bologna process, as well as influences EU policies on higher education and research. Their mission is as follows:
EUA’s mission is to promote the development of a coherent system of education and research at the European level through studies, projects and services to members. As a centre of expertise in higher education and research, EUA supports universities by:
- promoting European policies that will strengthen universities’ role in the development of Europe’s knowledge societies;
- promoting networking opportunities among national rectors’ conferences, national organisations and national associations;
- enhancing the visibility of European universities globally;
- influencing key decision makers at European, national and regional levels;
- informing members about policy debates impacting their development;
- developing universities’ knowledge and expertise through projects that involve and benefit individual institutions while underpinning policy development;
- strengthening the governance, leadership and management of institutions through mutual learning, exchange of experience and the transfer of best practices;
- enhancing the international dimension of universities through improved cooperation among its members and by establishing dialogue with partner organisations around the world.
The EUA was founded in 2001 resulting from a merger of the Association of European Universities (CRE) and the Confederation of European Union Rectors’ Conferences. The EUA upholds values and principles from the Magna Charta Universitatum, which was signed in Bologna by 388 universities worldwide. Aims of the document included upholding deep university traditions and encourage string bonds among European Universities.
How does the European University Association Safeguard Academic Freedom?
The EAU safeguards academic freedom using various methods and influential ties. The organization releases annual research regarding academic freedom in four dimensions: organizational autonomy, financial autonomy, staffing autonomy and academic autonomy. The results of the study are free and available to the public.
Recently, the EU publicly denounced the dismantling of university autonomy in Hungary. The organization routinely calls on the European Parliament to invoke articles regarding academic freedom, including procedural Article 7 which invokes an investigation to determine if a country has systematically breached EU values.