Council of Europe : Recommendation No. R (2000) 8  on the research mission of universities


Recommendation No. R (2000) 8
of the Committee of Ministers to member states
on the research mission of universities

(Adopted by the Committee of Ministers
on 30 March 2000,
at the 705th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies)



The Committee of Ministers, under the terms of Article 15.b of the Statute of the Council of Europe,

Considering that the aim of the Council of Europe is to achieve a greater unity between its members and that this aim can be pursued, notably through common action in cultural matters;

Having regard to the European Cultural Convention;

Having regard to the following Recommendations by the Committee of Ministers to member states:

- No. R (85) 21 on mobility of academic staff;

- No. R (90) 15 with a view to fostering the mobility of researchers;

- No. R (95) 7 on the brain drain in the sectors of higher education and research;

- No. R (95) 8 on academic mobility;

- No. R (96) 7 on regional academic mobility;

Having regard to the Joint Declaration on the European Higher Education Area, adopted in Bologna on 19 June 1999 by thirty-one European ministers of education;

Considering that universities have a mission of free inquiry and the transmission of knowledge through linking research and teaching;

Having regard to the unique ability of universities to combine different types of research and to provide expertise to all sectors of human activity;

Considering that the research capacity of universities is vital to cultivating the human mind, to raising people's level of qualification, to building democratic citizenship, and to sustaining a culture of understanding and integration, of co-operation and peace;

Considering that the advancement of knowledge requires strong co-ordination of research and teaching;

Having regard to the contribution of universities, through their wide variety of disciplines, to the preservation, development and enrichment of the European cultural heritage;

Considering that universities, while sharing the responsibility for academic research with industry and specialised institutions, have a particular responsibility for the development of knowledge through free and fundamental research, for the training of new researchers and for the maintenance of a healthy balance between the different types of research;

Considering autonomy and sufficient funding to be of the utmost importance for universities to fulfil their research mission;

I. Recommends that the governments of member states:

a. be guided in their policy with regards to university research by the principles set out in the appendix to this Recommendation;

b. promote implementation of these principles by the relevant governmental agencies and the universities in so far as the competence to make decision in research matters lies with the universities;

c. ensure that this Recommendation is distributed as widely as possible among all persons and bodies concerned;

II. Instructs the Secretary General of the Council of Europe to transmit this Recommendation to the governments of those States Party to the European Cultural Convention which are not members of the Council of Europe.


Appendix to Recommendation No. R (2000) 8

1. General policy considerations

1.1. Universities provide a research base vital for the solution of problems of public concern, even where markets for the solutions do not yet exist. Governments should offer incentives to conduct free and fundamental research.

1.2. As a rule, universities should conduct research in a broad range of disciplines and ensure well-organised contacts with active research in disciplines in which they offer study programmes without a strong research base. Governments should encourage each institution to develop a specific research profile while respecting the diversity of higher education institutions and their different missions, in full respect of the national systems of education and research and of the division of competence between the government and the universities.

1.3. Governments should seek to develop and maintain trust between the state and society on the one hand and the universities on the other and, notwithstanding the fundamental principle of university autonomy, to leave the universities with the responsibility for their choice of research priorities.

2. Links between university and non-university research

2.1. Governments should encourage universities and other public research institutions to intensify their research links. The historical or functional differentiation of research structures should be maintained only where it guarantees diversity of research approaches and has shown itself to be efficient.

2.2. In countries where research has been removed from the universities, governments should make efforts to re-establish the role of universities in research in order to help link research with research training.

2.3. Universities and other research institutions public or private should be encouraged by their authorities to co-operate more closely to form networks in order to make the best possible use of their resources and expertise. Governments might consider ways to encourage independent institutions, such as the academies of science in central and eastern Europe, to participate more effectively in research training and the teaching of advanced students, in co-operation with the universities which award research degrees.

3. Structure and organisation of research within higher education

3.1. In the setting of priorities for research, governments should, together with higher education institutions, ensure the academic freedom of individual researchers within the overall structure of the higher education system established by the competent state authorities.

3.2. The association of external research institutes with universities should be encouraged. They may act as technology transfer centres, centres of excellence and agencies for co-operation with industry.

3.3. Governments should encourage non-university institutions of higher education to create their own individual profile in diverse areas of research, in which they may play an important role in close co-operation with universities and other research institutions.

4. The link between teaching and research

4.1. In designing their higher education systems, governments should aim at creating conditions for universities where teaching and research are equally integrated into their organisation and structure.

4.2. The exact balance of research and teaching may vary according to the type of institution and between individuals within the same institution. Governments should ensure that permanent academic staff have duties in both teaching and research.

4.3. Universities should be encouraged to organise teaching and research in a diversified way, so as to allow the time spent by academics on each of them to vary. Academic staff members should be able to concentrate on research for a certain period, without unduly reducing the provision of study courses in the given field.

5. Training and recruitment of university researchers


5.1. Governments and universities should be encouraged to review their research qualifications with a view to determining whether the present system meets the requirements of research training. In the case of countries which have a system of doctorate degrees at two different levels, the review should consider whether this system should be maintained.

5.2. Governments and universities should be encouraged to design their study programmes with a view to bringing students into close contact with research as early as possible.

5.3. Governments and universities should be encouraged to offer structured research training programmes to doctoral students. They, as well as young researchers, should be guaranteed proper supervision and training by experienced researchers in their field.

5.4. They should be encouraged to develop international contacts in their field. They should be given the time and resources necessary to conduct their own research while also gaining teaching experience by undertaking a reasonable teaching load.

5.5. Young research staff should be encouraged to apply for research grants within the general system of research funding.

5.6. New interdisciplinary approaches to research training call for intensive guidance and access to advanced research. Contacts with experienced experts from different disciplines and different universities should be encouraged.

5.7. Governments and universities should be encouraged to establish programmes to invite scientists from non-university research centres, scholars from abroad and experts from industry and the public sector to take an active part in the training of researchers in the university.

5.8. Joint appointments and part-time employment should be facilitated. Research theses could be prepared in co-operation with industry and public administrations.


5.9. As a rule, governments and universities should be encouraged to require that university teachers hold a degree from a university. Only institutions authorised to award doctoral degrees should have the right to confer the qualification entitling an academic to apply for a post of university professor, if such a separate qualification exists in the country concerned.

5.10. Governments and universities should be encouraged to base the recruitment and career advancement of teachers on competition and good performance in both teaching and research. Permanent posts in teaching and research should be advertised publicly. For these posts no nationality requirement should exist. A strategic aim of recruitment policy should be to identify and recruit candidates from outside as well inside the university.

5.11. Governments and universities should be encouraged to make every effort to make university research careers more attractive to women.

5.12. Governments and universities should encourage the mobility of university teachers between institutions at both national and international levels in the course of their career.

6. Working conditions in university research

6.1. Governments and universities should be encouraged to adopt rules governing university research reflecting the specific characteristics of scientific work and respecting the academic freedom of researchers at all stages of their careers.

6.2. Employment conditions at university should provide competitive incentives to attract and retain creative and innovative research staff.

6.3. Permanent tenure should be subject to individual assessment.

6.4. Governments and universities should be encouraged to make available appropriate facilities and administrative support.

6.5. Academic staff should be able to benefit from sabbatical leave and travel grants after a specific length of time and on the basis of performance and results obtained.

6.6. The rights and duties of university researchers should be clearly defined by legislation and/or university statutes.

7. Ethical issues in research

7.1. Governments and universities should be encouraged to adopt basic ethical guidelines applicable to all researchers. Such guidelines should include basic ethical principles, such as the respect of human dignity and life, the rights of others and of the environment, and commit themselves to following rules of good practice in scientific research. Some of the guidelines, such as rules against plagiarism and falsifying results, should be common to all disciplines, whereas others should be developed separately for individual disciplines or groups of disciplines.

7.2. Universities should be encouraged to adopt transparent rules concerning their ethical positions in research at all levels: local, national or European. These should also comprise rules for the assessment of research procedures.

7.3. Research training should aim to develop sensitivity to ethical considerations in young researchers.

7.4. Governments should be encouraged to provide an adequate legal framework for ethics in research footnote 1 , including issues such as data protection, abuse of data and scientific fraud, animal protection and bioethics. These regulations may limit the freedom of research in the interest of the rights of others or prevent the risk of manipulating human life.

7.5. Governments should encourage research funding agencies to reject morally and legally doubtful proposals, submit questionable projects to ethical examination, refrain from funding projects if ethical standards are not assured and further research on ethical issues.

7.6. Universities should be encouraged to be sensitive to ethical problems and to warn governments and the public when research identifies negative consequences of certain developments (such as threats to human life or the environment), as well as to suggest possible lines of action.

8. Transparency of research results and issues of trust

8.1. Universities should be encouraged to report on major research results to their governments and the general public and to make visible the possible social impact of the results. By advertising and explaining progress in research, the universities will increase the awareness of their research mission.

8.2. Governments should be encouraged to define, in co-operation with the research community, standards for publishing research results. All results of university research financed from public sources should be published at some stage. Universities are encouraged to conclude clear agreements with founders regarding confidentiality of results, which may impose a temporary delay in publication.

9. Funding

9.1. Universities are accountable for their use of public funding. Governments should be encouraged to maintain responsibility for a substantial portion of the funding of university research. Only this will enable the universities to fulfil their research mission.

9.2. While ensuring a good basic public funding for research, governments should encourage universities to seek supplementary funding from other sources, public or private. The university should always be in the position of an actor in the competitive procedures of applying for research funds.

9.3. Governments should be encouraged to grant public and private institutions, such as foundations, tax relief or other concessions to support their contribution to university research. Industry should be encouraged to create or sponsor chairs in universities.

9.4. Governments should encourage universities, in accepting commissioned research, to give priority to those activities which supplement or strengthen their central mission in research and teaching. Universities should offer practical support to their researchers in setting up links to, and drawing up contracts with, industry.

9.5. Funding of research should as a general rule be subject to independent expert evaluation. Evaluation by peer review should be supplemented by other criteria according to established standards. Evaluation should also compare the original research objectives with the final results.

9.6. Regardless of the specific national structures in higher education and research, governments should be encouraged to maintain autonomous research funding agencies, or to create such agencies where they do not yet exist. Their task should be to allocate research funds as distinct from regular institutional budgets.

9.7. Public funding of research should be performance-related and based on projects proposed. The primary criteria for funding should be originality and quality.

9.8. Governments should encourage universities to define clear rules for accepting, managing and accounting for funds from outside the university. These should cover in particular the contribution of commissioned research to university overhead costs, the allocation of income from intellectual property, and the status of staff and students employed under contract.

1. See the Council of Europe’s legal instruments on bioethics, data protection and animal welfare.



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