Aarhus University Seal

Development of new dialogues between researchers and university leaders and policy makers

Wednesday 15 Dec, 11.15-12.45


Organiser: Sue Wright (Aarhus University)

This session is a part of a conference European Universities - Critical Futures that takes place in person in Copenhagen as well as online (13-15 December 2021). The online participation will be via Microsoft Teams (not Zoom). To receive the link, register for as Participant (attending online) here: https://events.au.dk/keystoneconference/signup



The aims of this project are not just to develop a new research agenda for critical roles that universities can play in Europe’s future, but also to engage in dialogue about that research with university leaders and policy makers. In organising this conference, it became very clear that researchers had hardly any contacts with decision makers, and even less idea how to access them. It is as if researchers and policy makers occupy different worlds with barely any contact between them. In some cases these is also a gulf between researchers and the leaders of their universities. In recent decades, European and national policies have narrowly focused on the reform and role of universities to drive competitiveness in the global knowledge economy. Now, however, universities are gaining a wider mandate – and maybe need other forms of organisation - to address the current crises of massive inequalities, global population movements and threats to democracy, not to mention the restructuring of economies to tackle the climate crisis. In this context, it is important to find conduits for critical researchers to exchange ideas about these issues with university leaders, policy specialists and decision makers.


The session will take the form of a semi-structured panel discussion, followed by an open discussion and ideas about how to build dialogue into the working groups’ activities in the final year of the project.

The panel involves

  • Ellen Hazelkorn (professor emerita Technological University Dublin), who has found a way to build a career as a critical researcher highly respected as a policy adviser
  • Pavel Zgaga (professor emeritus, Ljubljana University) who has been a Minister of Education, deeply involved in forming the Bologna Process, as well as a Professor of Education, researching higher education policy
  • Thomas Jørgensen (European Universities Association) whose organisation represents 800 universities and national rectors' conferences and facilitates their engagement with policy makers.
  • Lina Christensen (Senior EU adviser, Central Denmark EU Office) whose role includes linking members of Aarhus University to European policy making at Brussels.
  • Bjørn Stensaker (Vice-rector, Oslo University, to be confirmed) who has vast experience as a critical researcher of higher education institutions and policy and now has a leadership role in Circle U European Universities Alliance – do these alliances provide new openings for dialogue between researchers and policy circles?