June 5, 2024

YERUN statement on European elections 

Within a world facing multiple crises, Europe is entering a critical juncture. In the context of the June 2024 European Parliament elections, political priorities for the next term are being developed. EU citizens will have the power to influence those priorities with their votes. Considering recent trends that are weakening multilateralism and encouraging greater levels of protectionism, the elections are a decisive moment in which we can reaffirm the integrity of our European values and democratic governance. This includes academic freedom and autonomy of the European higher education sector as a precondition for its sustainable prosperity.  

Research universities embody a unique position in this space. They play a key role in providing spaces for open dialogue and collaboration, in furthering sustainable progress of their local communities, in advancing human development through lifelong education, and in expanding global prosperity through the excellence of their scientific research – broadening the knowledge base and transforming it into innovation and impact. This warrants further EU attention, investment and support in the next political term, placing education, research and innovation at the heart of the EU’s future strategy, and ensuring our knowledge capital is at the centre of Europe’s innovation and competitiveness.  

Openness and collaboration 

In view of the upcoming European Parliament elections, to be held 6-9 June 2024, the role our universities perform in acting as forums for awareness, critical thinking and open dialogue is more important than ever.  

The influence of these elections extends beyond the mere allocation of budgets. The landscape of higher education is changing in ways that may impact on academic freedom, institutional autonomy and the process of internationalisation. Attracting international talent -including through a diversified international student population- is vital for the university community and for the regional innovation ecosystem, stimulating economic activity in the local area.  

In this context, the benefits of openness, collaboration and cultural diversity cannot be overstated. These are fundamental values to the European project and any retreat from an international growth-oriented mindset poses potential threats to universities and the regions they serve. 

Cast your vote! 

Openness and collaboration stand as cornerstone values among YERUN universities. The societal contributions of universities deserve full recognition, appreciation, and ongoing support.  

To have the ability to tackle global challenges in these turbulent times, we call upon EU citizens to exercise their right to vote and actively shape the future they aspire to have. Likewise, we urge 2024 EU election candidates to embrace universities’ role as agents of change, and to invest in the necessary conditions for Europe to lead in education, research and innovation.  


Photocredit: © Canva

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