Conference Universities and Society - From Dialogue to Common Objectives, held on October 5, 2023,confirmed the importance of mutual trust Conference participants presented their expectations, interpreted their observations and suggestions for the functioning of universities, representatives of universities presented examples of the implementation of changes in management, as well as academic integrity and ethics. According to several representative surveys, universities are among the most trustworthy institutions in Slovak society, despite this, in public disputes, distrust, dishonor and negative expressions tend to appear towards them. Rectors by participating in the public debate follow the increase of society´s trust in universities. As the conference showed, common objectives of all participating partners are sustainable development and quality culture at universities.
Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sports of the SR organised with Slovak Rectors´ Conference at the premises of University of Economics in Bratislava conference entitled Universities and Society - From Dialogue to Common Objectives, that was led by Minister Daniel Bútora. SRC President Vladimír Hiadlovský presented concept of "lean management" that is also connected with changes in the organizational structure of the university. These strengthen centralized management with respect for academic rights and freedoms.
Vladimír Hiadlovský, says: „Effective management of a university is not only about reducing the number of employees. Rather, it is about achieving smooth operations with fewer employees, bodies and processes. Thus, it is necessary to eliminate repetitive, dubious or lengthy processes and structures. Current higher education legislation has opened the door to effective lean management at universities, as they have the opportunity to set their own internal arrangements. However, mechanisms that are the opposite of lean management have been preserved in many areas."
Rector Bohunka Koklesová spoke at the conference, presenting an example of creating a safe environment in a wider context at a university implementing academic integrity and ethics. In conclusion, Bohunka Koklesová emphasized that when applying ethical principles in the academic environment, "it is important to think about the school, students, education and as last your personal Ego."
Stakeholders spoke in discussion panels about society's expectations from universities and the societal demands, named specific examples of positive changes and achieved successes. In their inputs, they always emphasized importance of mutual trust. From the point of view of the partners, universities should focus more on interdisciplinarity. For the development of society, it is also necessary to support not only technical and natural sciences, but also social sciences, humanities and arts. Current and former SRC members Katarína Slobodová-Nováková, René Bílik and Pavol Sovák also spoke in both panel discussions. Katarína Slobodová-Nováková appealed to strengthen scientific literacy in society. René Bílik emphasized that universities do not educate graduates exclusively for specific employers, but that higher education has a broader dimension. Pavol Sovák emphasized the need to support high-quality social science and humanities fields, without which it will not be possible to respond to global challenges.
The aim of the conference organizers was to bring together stakeholders - the government and ministries, universities and employers. All those present agreed that universities are key to the economic growth of Slovakia and supported the intention to continue the joint open dialogue.
- Press release (SVK, pdf)
- Conference recording (link to external source)
- Programme of the event (SVK, pdf)