Over 1,000 participants at a United Nations forum have called on governments to increase investment in higher education, and stressed the need for enhanced teacher training and greater regional cooperation in areas such as recognizing qualifications.
The World Conference on Higher Education, hosted by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris, discussed a wide range of issues over the course of its four-day meeting, including the impact of globalization on higher education, social responsibility, academic freedom, research and financing.
At no time in history has it been more important to invest in higher education as a major force in building an inclusive and diverse knowledge society and to advance research, innovation and creativity, says the final communiqué adopted by the conference, which gathered participants from some 150 countries.
The communiqué notes the need to better integrate information and communications technologies throughout higher education to meet increasing student demand and share the results of scientific research.
It also emphasizes the need for strengthened regional cooperation regarding the recognition of qualifications, quality assurance, governance, research and innovation, and highlights the importance of establishing regional higher education and research areas.
In addition, participants called for measures to boost higher education in Africa " a special focus of the conference " including efforts to meet rapidly increasing demand; more attention to areas such as agriculture, the environment and natural resource extraction; and the mobilization of private financing.
Highlighting the global teacher shortage, the communiqué also calls for higher education to scale up pre-service and in-service teacher training with curricula that equip teachers to provide individuals with the knowledge and skills they need.