The World Conference on Higher Education in the Twenty-first Century: Vision and Action, 1998

The World Conference on Higher Education in the Twenty-first Century: Vision and Action (WCHE), was held in UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, from 5-9 October 1998. Over 180 countries, as well as representatives of the academic community, including teachers, students and other stakeholders in higher education took part in this major event.

In convening the WCHE, UNESCO's objective was to lay down the fundamental principles for the in-depth reform of higher education systems throughout the world and thus contribute to transforming higher education, in its material and virtual manifestations, into an environment for lifelong learning, for cultural debate, for the affirmation and safeguarding of diversity, and for forging and confirming the values and principles laid down in the constitution of UNESCO for "the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind".

The Conference was preceded by a widespread mobilization of partners, of national policy-makers, institutional leaders, the professorate and researchers, including those involved in the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme, the student community, and the economic and professional sectors as well as the civil society, including parliamentarians.

Regional preparatory conferences were held between November 1996 and March 1998. All confirmed that we are now facing global problems that call for solutions to be applied worldwide, even though in every region there are variations in the economic, social, cultural and political context.

The documents adopted at the end of the conference, the "World Declaration on Higher Education for the Twenty-first Century: Vision and Action" and the "Framework for Priority Action for Change and Development of Higher Education" represent an agreement between all stakeholders concerning the principal and key actions needed for the renewal of higher education in the twenty-first century. They will help set up the agenda both for higher education policy-making in Member States and for development strategies to be established or further strengthened by UNESCO and its partners.

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