UCL becomes signatory to international statement of university principles

26 September 2006

UCL has become a signatory to the Magna Charta Universitatum, a statement of the principles and values shared by the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world.

The signing

The document was drafted by a small group of European rectors and vice-chancellors under the leadership of the President of the Association of European Universities, and the opportunity to sign up to the statement and the principles it contains has since been extended to research-led universities across the world.

Professor Michael Worton, UCL Vice-Provost (Academic & International), represented UCL at the signing ceremony, which took place in Bologna on 15 September 2006. The signing was preceded by a one-day conference on Political Approaches to University Identity, prepared in conjunction with the Council of Europe.

Professor Worton said: “Signing the Magna Charta Universitatum means much more than UCL restating very publicly its commitment to key principles: it involves us in an ever-growing network of universities, notably in Europe, but also from across the globe. UCL is particularly keen to work with central and eastern European universities as they seek greater institutional autonomy.”

Signature of the charter is a public statement of an institution’s commitment to four key principles:

  • university autonomy
  • the fundamental importance of links between teaching and research
  • the right to academic freedom and the promotion of dialogue between colleagues and disciplines
  • the role of universities in enabling countries and cultures to know and influence each other.

In order to be accepted as a signatory, institutions must adhere to the following precepts:

  • all members of that institution’s academic community should have the freedom to work, teach and learn
  • the institution’s recruitment policy must give primacy to maintaining strong links between teaching and research
  • the institution must participate in the mutual exchange of knowledge and information between other – particularly European – universities, and encourage staff and student mobility and joint collaborative projects.

Signature of the Charta also affords UCL access to the Magna Charta Observatory, a European lobbying organisation on higher education policy, based in Bologna.

To find out more about the Magna Charta and the Observatory, or UCL's links with Europe, use the links at the bottom of this article.

Image: The signing