Europe is facing massive challenges. Many of its economies are showing signs of weakness at a time when old competitors keep going strong and new ones, particularly in Asia, are gaining ground. Europes population is greying, with heavy implications for the costs of health and pension systems. In order to defend its position in the world, and its high standard of living, it needs to be smarter and more innovative than others. It needs better products than those it competes with, and it must produce them faster. It is doomed to create an ever-improving knowledge society.
Obviously, the success of the creation of a knowledge society critically hinges on the performance of our education and training systems, and particularly its universities and other higher education institutions. Europes heads of state and government acknowledged this when adopting, in the year 2000, the Lisbon Agenda, in which education, training and research play a key role. But, in order to be the innovation motor they should be, Europes universities will themselves need to innovate and change. Reforms have begun in many countries, but more are necessary.