UVIECON 2015 discussed on global universities and their regional impact


On March 13 the 650th University of Viena International Anniversary Conference gathered higher education experts from around the world to discuss ways for being a global university and to secure positive impact to society.

Humans living in the last third of 20th century and the beginning of the 21st are enjoying the privilege of experiencing the definitive globalization of the planet. The university is one of the first global institutions, if not the first, ever since its inception in Asia in the 7th century, the Al Karaouine University in Fez, in AD 859, or Bologna University in AD 1088.

In addition, as was stressed at the EUA Conference in Brno nearly 10 years ago, globalization emphasizes localization, the importance of place, the emergence of regions as platforms for global competition. With a great deal that can be said about it, for which there is no space here, this is also the spirit that inspires the European policy “Research and Innovation, Smart Specialization Strategy” (RIS3).

So, globalization, localization and universities unavoidably had to get together. And this getting together has been the subject of UVIECON 2015 Global Universities & their Regional Impact. Here, though, the word “Global” has been used in a rather particular sense: as an adjective of university; very differently from what we are used to and what we meant in the article “The glocal university”, included in our previous newsletter. There, the global component refers to the responsibilities and expected impact of universities in the global issues and challenges of humanity.

At this conference, the focus was the regional impact of global universities, a somewhat elusive and self-referenced category of universities that is difficult to define. What is a global university? Is it one that has a global impact in generating and disseminating knowledge through research and teaching in higher education? This would be too broad a definition. Are global universities those ranked in THE, ARWU or QS? It is difficult, therefore, to grasp the meaning of “global” in the title of the conference, and the conference has not clarified it. In any case, the conference indeed stressed the other concept, the strong strategic role of universities in regional development and competitiveness, showing that this duality, the global and the local character of universities, is in fact a current issue for universities worldwide. This duality is, precisely, the topic that will be addressed in the next GUNi World Report on Higher Education.

Please see further information on UVIECON 2015 here.

Download the Viena Communiqué here.


  • UNESCO. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
  • The Catalan Association of Public Universities (ACUP)

Sponsored by

  • Generalitat de Catalunya. Ministry of Business and Employment. Department of Research and Universities
  • Generalitat de Catalunya. Ministry for Foreign Action and Open Government