The Council of Europe (jointly with the Anchor Institution Task Force) held a meeting in Strasbourg on 17th - 18th June to establish whether there was a basis for organising a Europe-wide network of locally engaged universities. DCU was part of the organising committee and contributed to the debate. The local mission of higher education may seem like a contradiction in terms.
After all, higher education and research aspires to universality, and they are international by origin, aspiration and – in many cases – current practice. Nevertheless, whatever their real or intended presence on the world stage, higher education institutions are located in specific neighbourhoods and local communities. A sense of place and location should lead to a sense of belonging and commitment. This commitment must be demonstrated through institutional policy and practice, or it does not exist.
The higher education leaders who attended agree to support the establishment of a European task force under the auspices of the Council of Europe to drive the local mission on the university.
Mr Trevor Holmes, Vice President - External Affairs, who led the DCU delegation, commented after the meeting that “it is extremely positive that the Council of Europe, after a period of discernment, has agreed to take the lead in establishing a European platform to embed and extend the principles and practices of local engagement by higher education institutions. DCU has an acknowledged leadership position in developing the local mission as a unique element of our mission and so I am delighted that we have been requested to play a significant role in the development of this process based on our perceived expertise and the importance we have placed on this critical element of our work ."