Tijdens de UASNET-conferentie in Scheveningen analyseerde Bonhof waarom het Europees hbo meer dan adnere onderwijs- en onderzoeksectoren de kennisparadox en innovatietekorten in Europa kan helpen opheffen. Zij wees daarbij onder meer op het AWT-rapport over onderzoek ‘Innovation Renewed’. “The advice to the Dutch government speaks about how the business and industry sector and the government can create a better innovation policy. This report says that investment in fundamental research is very important but that the linear research model – from fundamental research to applications – has its limitations.
And for this reason, we need investment in the development of an alternative approach. An approach that puts knowledge circulation first, an approach where the knowledge institution works together with the professional field to make sure that knowledge is developed and applied to new products and services. In other words, we need to develop an approach that connects knowledge and innovation. And to do so, you need networks. In its advice, the Scientific Council says that good networks have a big impact on innovation. What I find interesting about this advice is that it ties in nicely with our strengths, our professional orientation, our many networks, and with the type of research we conduct.
We all have a professional orientation; we are all crucial to the process of widening participation; we all have strong roots in our own regions; and we all have extensive networks with businesses, SMEs, and public institutions. All of us conduct applied research, and all of us have a strong focus on knowledge circulation.
Influence political discourse
What do we want to achieve with our network? The network has two objectives. The first objective is to exchange best practices. The second, even more important, objective is to strengthen the position of our universities, both nationally and in Europe. A year ago, we presented a joint position paper to decision-makers about our position and strengths as universities of applied sciences.
And we absolutely do need to influence political discourse in Europe. The Lisbon Declaration emphasised the importance of widening participation and the importance of applied research to help boost innovation. But policy-making does not really address widening participation and it does not focus so much on applied research and its relevance for the innovation of products and services. I do not wish to deny the importance of fundamental research. But the real value of research comes when knowledge translates into applications and innovations that generate money in the marketplace or that lead to better public service provision.”
Investeren in HO-staf
Het hbo is voor deze cruciale rol in Europa nog niet in alle opzichten adequaat geëquipeerd, zo werd in de conferentie duidelijk. Een rapport van Cheps geeft aan waar verbeterslagen nodig zijn. Bonhof wijst in haar betoog op vijf terreinen in het bijzonder.
“1. Embedding research in the organisation. Historically, our institutions have focused on delivering Bachelor’s degrees. Building a research infrastructure requires vision, policy and money.
2. A need for sustainable funding. Demand-based applied research is central to our programmes. But UAS cannot do their full share when they have to make do with short-term project funding. A solid and sustainable infrastructure is vital.
3. Clustering of research around central themes. UAS have limited money for applied research, so they are unable to cover all areas of expertise. In other words, there are choices to be made here.
4. The importance of a full range of Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programmes. UAS should deliver Bachelor’s degrees but also Professional Master’s degrees. Master’s students can play an important role in building adequate research capacity. They can make a substantial contribution to the circulation of knowledge.
5. Human Resources: UAS employ academic staff that are qualified to teach programmes that are linked to the professions. You need other competencies for doing research. There should be investment in academic UAS staff.”
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