OZ 2009/4

M T 129 ORGANIZACIJA ZNANJA 2009, LETN. 14, ZV. 4 Wall. The same period has also witnessed new partitions with civil wars and the disintegration of Yugoslavia. However, twenty years later, we can enjoy seeing the fruits of those determined efforts to construct positive things. COBISS – the Cooperative Online Bibliographic System and Services – is a shining example of regional scientific cooperation between over 500 scientific libraries from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia – with Albania and Croatia due to join soon. I do believe that regional cooperation and networking, such as the pooling of resources around regional research initiatives, is the best route towards larger European integration. Slovenia, as the only former Yugoslav republic to be part of the European Union can play a pivotal role in integrating the Western Balkans into the wider Europe. This is certainly the only route to stability and prosperity in the region. Projects such as COBISS illustrate the potential of this cooperation and Tomaž Seljak certainly is a champion of this cause to which he has devoted over 20 years of relentless effort. However, today Europe is just a part of a larger more globalized world which shares many of Europe’s challenges in higher education but also has its own very different perspectives. Let me therefore address the topic of my presentation: The New Dynamics of Higher Education and Research for Societal Change and Development . This was the theme of UNESCO’s 2009 World Conference on Higher Education (WCHE) of which I had the privilege of being the Executive Secretary. The Conference was prepared by six regional conferences held in Cartagena de Indias, Macau, Dakar, New Delhi, Bucharest and Cairo. A sub-regional conference for South- East Europe was held in Budva, Montenegro, bringing Ministers, university leaders and heads of academies together to share their vision of higher education and research. The main Conference was organized at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. Let me say at this point how proud I am that UNESCO now has a new Director-General, the first woman to hold the post. Moreover, Ms Irina Bokova is from Bulgaria, in our part of the world. Under the overall theme of New Dynamics, the Conference addressed aspects of higher education’s role in addressing major global challenges, with a special focus on the societal commitment to, and the social responsibility of higher education. The Conference had a special focus on Africa with the aim of uniting different partners in working for the renaissance of African higher education and research. Parallel sessions examined new developments in higher education around the themes of Internationalization, regionalization and globalization; Equity, access and quality; and Learning, research and innovation. The WCHE was a major event for UNESCO. It attracted large numbers of participants from various stakeholders in higher education: governments, institutions, faculty, professional associations, students, civil society, and private sector. The Conference rapporteur, Professor Suzy Halimi, former President of Sorbonne University, said that the high interest and active participation was "evidence of two things: an awareness of the importance of higher education in building knowledge societies in the twenty first century, and the trust placed in UNESCO to play a full part in this area". The Rapporteur General for Africa, Peter Okebukola, a well-known academic from Nigeria, recalled that: "We found, most strikingly an infectious dynamism among the over 1,200 participants (...). The matter of higher education is serious business!" We were greatly honoured to have the President of Slovenia, Danilo Türk, as the main keynote speaker to open the Conference. While underlining the role of higher education in national and international development, he focused on three particular topics: academic freedom; academic quality and excellence, and the academic contribution to intercultural dialogue. All these themes were taken up later during the Conference. Professor Philip Altbach, the well-known higher education researcher from the Center on International Higher Education at Boston College, introduced today’s Trends in Global Higher Education through a study he entitled Tracking an Academic Revolution . What are the new dynamics that make up these global trends, and what does the academic revolution that Professor Altbach identified consist of? RISING DEMAND Rising demand for higher education, which is particularly rapid in the developing world, is a dominant element of the academic revolution. Higher education’s role in constructing the knowledge society is widely acknowledged. University degrees and diplomas are the passports to the knowledge society, which increasing numbers of people seek to obtain.