Towards a new Magna Charta Universitatum for the universities of tomorrow

University representatives from all over the world gathered at McMaster University (Canada) to celebrate the 31st anniversary of this document, which establishes the fundamental principles and values of universities.
Magna Charta

A great opportunity to discuss challenges universities will face in the future. In 2020, the Magna Charta will be back in Bologna but in a renewed version.

On October 16 and 17, University representatives from all over the world gathered at McMaster University in Hamilton (Ontario, Canada) for the 31st anniversary of the Magna Charta Universitatum. It is the first time that a North American institution hosts this conference celebrating this document, which originated in Bologna in 1988 and identifies fundamental values and principles for universities on an international level. During the summit, 15 new universities joined the 904 signatory members of the Magna Charta.

At the meeting in Hamilto, the Bologna delegation was led by the Rector Francesco Ubertini, whose closing remarks sealed the hand-over of the Magna Charta Universitatum. Indeed, next year, this international conference dedicated to the role of universities in the world will be back in Bologna where an updated version of the Magna Charta will be presented: new guidelines for the universities of tomorrow.

Bearing this in mind, university representatives discussed pivotal themes such as sustainability, academic freedom, students’ engagement and university governance.

"In 1988, rectors of European universities felt united by an atmosphere anticipating the end of the Iron Curtain”, said Sijbolt Noorda, president of the Magna Charta Observatory. "The principles of Magna Charta still reflect that atmosphere, which translates into our readiness to create international partnerships and into the fundamental values necessary for actual university independence”.

Since 1988 much has changed and consequently universities have adapted to these major transformations. Hence the need for designing a new Magna Charta.

"The principles of academic independence and freedom are still central to the Magna Charta, but new values need to be accounted for in this important document”, stated David Lock, Magna Charta Observatory secretary general. "Innovation, excellence, social responsibility, community engagement, diversity, individual and collective health and welfare have to be included in the new Magna Charta alongside our fundamental values ".

The signatures of the 15 new members and the hand-over to the University of Bologna for the international meeting in 2020 concluded the meeting. "Our values – observed Rector Ubertini in his closing remarks – are not the finish line, but a shared path”.

Published on: 24 October 2019