International, Institutional life

U7+ Alliance of World Universities: three questions we asked Khaled Bouabdallah

On The July 10, 2019

Khaled Bouabdallah, President of the Université de Lyon, took part in the U7+ Alliance of World Universities summit in Paris. He told us more about the Université de Lyon’s commitments and its participation in the committee addressing “Inequality and the responsibility of higher education to combat polarization in our society”.

What will the Université de Lyon gain from taking part in the U7 + Alliance of World Universities summit?

The U7+ Alliance of World Universities was founded on June 5, 2019, at the instigation of the French President, Emmanuel Macron,to form a single place for university presidents to talk about challenges in higher education and research. This desire to get university presidents involved is based on three main reasons:

  • The G7’s strong commitment to education, which will now extend to higher education. Indeed, the number of students who decide to pursue higher education has been constantly growing over the past two decades, and this trend is expected to continue in coming years.
  • Universities also have an important role to play in a globalized world and environment, addressing both contemporary challenges, and the challenges we will be facing in the future.
  • And finally, in our current geopolitical context, academic exchange programs and relationships between universities have become essential vectors for international dialogue. Today, the university is recognized as playing a diplomatic and political role through the light it sheds on societal issues.

By participating in the U7+ summit, the Université de Lyon is recognized as a key player on the global academic stage. It also contributes to discussions with its particular expertise. In fact, the Université de Lyon is already involved in a number of initiatives related to the U7+ priorities: the personalization of courses and providing easier access to higher education with the CURSUS+ program, adapting to digital technology, supporting international mobility, etc.

The Université de Lyon is playing a specific role in this project, and is partnering with the Université de Bordeaux, HEC Paris and the University of Ottawa. Can you tell us more?

The Université de Lyon has decided to get involved in a specific area, “Inequality and the responsibility of higher education to combat polarization in our society”. To this end, it is leading a dedicated working group with the Université de Bordeaux, HEC Paris and the University of Ottawa.

This working group will focus on:

  • The role universities have to play in an age of distrust in knowledge and expertise. We believe it is the responsibility of institutions of higher education to provide the next generation of students not only with various general skills, but also the soft skills they will need to face the uncertainty of our time.
  • The question of social diversity. Cultural diversity has long been a priority for world-class universities, which perceive themselves as increasingly international in nature, building bridges between societies. Today, it is difficult to say if they are still progressively diluting inequality, or if they are reproducing inequality by avoiding social and cultural diversity.
  • And finally, the role of universities in achieving equality between women and men. Women around the world have a right to equality, autonomy and safety, as well as to a high-quality education. Universities should promote awareness, inclusion, justice and gender equality.

What are the next steps and projects in the works?

The next meeting will involve presenting the commitments we have written and voted on during this first summit to the President, Emmanuel Macron. These ideas will be included in the discussions during the next G7 Summit, in Biarritz, in August 2019. The University Presidents at the U7+ Alliance of World Universities also committed to continue their joint action by meeting every year at the G7 summit to bring their initiatives into the discussions.

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