Global ‘Roadmap to 2030’ for higher education announced

After 120 roundtable sessions, 86 ‘HED’ talks and five youth-led activities, the UNESCO World Higher Education Conference 2022 concluded on May 20 in Barcelona, Spain, with the announcement of a common ‘Roadmap to 2030’ and a demand that barriers to change be “blown down now”.

UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education Stefania Giannini described the roadmap as being “about next steps for the future and the vision we are bringing”.

The roadmap was not just about achieving the internationally agreed 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets, designed to protect the planet and build peace and prosperity, but also more ambitiously, looking ahead to 2050 and “going very much beyond the focus of discussions over last few years”.

Six guiding principles

Throughout the process the following six principles – the Roadmap to 2030 – should be followed, she said:

1. Greater inclusion and promoting diversity.

2. Academic freedom balanced by public accountability.

3. Inquiry, critical thinking and creativity, unlocking the potential of every kind of science literacy.

4. Integrity and ethics, “generating a new kind of citizenship” for the future.

5. A commitment to sustainability and social responsibility, having a dynamic relationship with the community.

6. Cooperation for excellence rather than competition.

“For sure it is a very ambitious roadmap, but it is not something being concluded here in Barcelona. The conference is the beginning of the process.”

In 2027 a Barcelona+5 session will reflect on what has been implemented from the roadmap.

Informed by a wealth of research

The Roadmap to 2030 is backed up by and informed by a wealth of research into 10 themes, produced by technical expert groups, including the report by the UNESCO Global Independent Expert Group on the Universities and the 2030 Agenda entitled: Knowledge-driven Actions: Transforming higher education for global sustainability; and Reimagining the Futures of Higher Education: Insights from a scenario development process towards 2050.

The Reimagining the Futures of Higher Education report envisaged four desirable scenarios for higher education towards 2050, using the common good as the visionary lens and social justice as the framework to support the idea of accessible, inclusive and equitable higher education systems.

These scenarios are:

1. Open education.

2. Technology-enabled networked learning hubs.

3. Ecologically sustainable higher education.

4. Development-driven higher education.

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