This year’s EUA conference focus was the current values of European universities, such as academic freedom, autonomy, openness, freedom of thought and research, and the promotion of academic integrity. Through sessions held in different formats, including some with audience participation, the conference debated what measures universities can take to ensure that these values are properly understood and put into practice.
“It was a great honour for me to be selected as one of the twelve speakers and to be able to give a presentation to the rectors from a number of prestigious European universities. In this way, I had the opportunity to explain the mission and vision of Masaryk University and how we are achieving them. Our university is undoubtedly an inspiring community striving for the principles of social responsibility and contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals, which I was able to show on concrete examples,” said Martin Bareš, Rector of Masaryk University, who presented his contribution titled The Pandemic as an Opportunity to Review University Values at the conference.
During his presentation, Mr Bareš described how the MU Strategic Plan was prepared during the pandemic, what the university considers its core values and how they are reflected in its mission and vision, as well as in the graduate profile. As an example of good practice, his presentation included an introduction of the MUNI HELPS Volunteer Centre, which was established in March 2020 in response to the Covid outbreak and which is currently organising assistance for Ukrainian students, academics and their families in the context of the war in Ukraine.
“During my mandate so far, we have been dealing with a constant stream of crises that none of us has ever encountered before, be it the pandemic or the war in Ukraine. At Masaryk University, we soon came to the realisation that volunteering is not only a way to help others but also a tool for self-development. I am proud that our volunteers are involved in providing psychological assistance, arranging interpreters, translations, babysitting and organising leisure activities for children, helping to organise material help through charitable collections, and contributing financially. As a university, we also provide Czech language courses for refugees, accept students from Ukraine and employ academic and non-academic staff members who have fled from the war. These efforts and especially our commitment have been highly appreciated in international forums,” said Rector Martin Bareš.
At the EUA Annual Conference in Budapest, the Rector also presented a project which is expected to have a strong impact on the MUNI BioPharma Hub community. This project was approved in September 2021 as part of the National Recovery Plan of the Czech Republic and should be connected with European and national strategies.
“The project involves creating a National Hub by integrating the Faculty of Pharmacy into the research infrastructure. The MUNI BioPharma Hub will draw on scientific advances in medicine, biotechnology, IT, as well as social and economic disciplines to address issues such as demographic changes and pandemic threats. It will rely on collaboration with the industry and public sector, using modern research infrastructures in the form of clusters in areas such as virology, artificial intelligence and biotechnology. Based on a developing understanding of the interactions between humans and their environment, it should contribute to the increasing efficiency of healthcare and the health system as a whole by developing, for example, instruments for early diagnosis and prevention. I am very pleased to have been able to present our strategic plans at such an important international forum as the EUA Annual Conference, where they clearly attracted considerable interest of the audience,” said Mr Bareš about his presentation and impressions of the conference.