News nr. 23 | September/October 2011
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The universities of Lisbon and the Future - Professor J. Fernandes e Fernandes article


André Silva
andresilva@fm.ul.pt 

Susana Henriques
susanahenriques@fm.ul.pt 

Equipa Editorial
news@fm.ul.pt


The Director of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Lisbon, Professor José Fernandes e Fernandes, published an opinion article in Público on 28 September, titled «The Universities of Lisbon and the Future». Due to the reflection it encourages on the main issues and challenges currently faced by Portuguese universities, which he has been reflecting about for a long time, and to the concrete proposals he makes, we strongly recommend that you read it.

“Fewer and better universities that can attract both foreign researchers and students”. 

In the opinion of the Professor, this situation is the result of a lack of national strategy for higher education involving all public and private stakeholders. The lack of recognition given to universities that produce knowledge and are able to compete internationally for top students and the necessary funding for advanced research has meant that higher education has missed the chance to expand in a structured and rational manner.
However, along with the missed opportunities, others emerged that have contributed significantly to the development of scientific activity in the last decade. An example of this was the creation of associated laboratories: “In the Faculty of Medicine, the development of the Institute of Molecular Medicine, which we hosted and actively supported and is now part of the Academic Medical Centre of Lisbon, a consortium also involving Santa Maria Hospital/Lisbon-North Hospital Centre, is an example and a paradigm of a new organizational model that we believe is vital.” 

To overcome the crisis in higher education, the need for a new policy for universities based on the restructuring of the university system is argued for. This stance has been held by Professor Fernandes e Fernandes on other occasions, who suggests a reduction in the number of universities in favour of increasing their quality (less and better). 

Accordingly, the future of the universities of Lisbon must include a policy to merge the two state universities, the Technical and Classical Universities, and be “an intelligent and determined action that can encourage growth, scientific and cultural critical mass, strengthen research, optimize human and materials resources and, above all, create a favourable institutional environment that enables economies of scale and encourages renewed vigour”. 

The relationship established between the Faculty of Medicine and the Higher Technical Institute, whose scientific production has reached European levels, is a clear example of the advantages brought about by collaboration between institutions. Both institutions have carried out joint projects successfully in recent years, like the new Integrated Master Degree in Biomedical Engineering. The benefits arising from this partnership are manifold: “meet the challenges to attain scientific recognition, offer more and better opportunities to students, and restructure services leading to cost reductions and profitability”. However, this kind of convergence strategy requires a clear political decision. 

In this context, the Professor concludes by saying that:”Meeting this goal is not only a necessity, but a duty that the future imposes upon us. Another missed opportunity would be unacceptable”.

Note: the publishing rights on this article are the property of Newspaper Público, for which reason we cannot reproduce it here.

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Coordination:
Prof. Doutor J. Fernandes e Fernandes
Editorial Commitee: Prof. Doutor J. Fernandes e Fernandes, Prof. Doutor Alexandre Ribeiro, Prof. Doutor António Vaz Carneiro, Prof. Doutor João Ferreira, Dr. Luis Pereira
Information Officer: Ana Raquel Moreira
Editorial Team: Ana Maria Silva, Ana Raquel Moreira, André Silva, Lara Ponte, Miguel Andrade, Rui Gomes, Sónia Barroso, Susana Henriques, Tânia Simões
Collaboration: Communication and Image Office - Ana Isabel Gonçalves da Silva, Bruno Moura
Design and Technical Support: UTI 
Design and development: Spirituc
e-mail: news@fm.ul.pt