University group leader defends cross-border research

The head of a European university group has defended cross-border research collaboration, as politicians in the European Union and United States seek to weaken socio-economic ties with nations they perceive to have hostile potential, writes Andrew Silver for Research Professional News.

“As geopolitical tensions continue to rise, universities must recognise the imperative of working together to defend their shared interests,” Rik Van de Walle, rector of Ghent University in Belgium and president of the CESAER group of science and technology universities, said this month in an opinion article published by the Academic Cooperation Association. “Alongside quests to decouple or de-risk how our economies work comes a threat for renewed academic isolation,” he warned, adding that there is “the risk of re-division of the world into a number of more or less isolated blocks”.

In particular, Van de Walle considered moves by EU politicians to “de-risk” the bloc’s relations with China. “The common presumption that China always takes from the West and never the other way around seems highly questionable,” he said. “How can we be confident that keeping knowledge from ‘leaking’ to other parts of the world will bring more benefits than drawbacks?”
Full report on the Research Professional News site