Knowledge – the fifth freedom
Well-educated citizens are essential for each country’s economic development and prerequisite for greater prosperity. But nowadays knowledge, innovation and education is given too little space, both in Sweden and in the EU: If the EU is to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy, it is time for us to supplement the four existing freedoms of the EU with a fifth, namely freedom of knowledge.
Europe as a continent of culture and knowledge if too often inhibited by national borders. Despite generous Erasmus scholarships Swedish students, lecturers and scientists are among the worse in Europe to use the opportunity to go on an exchange abroad.
New perspectives and a wider network
Many who have studied abroad highlight how much they have learned from their exchange. By meeting a foreign culture and society you get new perspectives of yourself, your country and history. I believe that this will lead to greater tolerance and respect of people from other countries and cultures – which we certainly need more of.
To encourage studies abroad, it is important that Swedish universities informs the public about existing possibilities and helps the students to include a period abroad in their education. The Bologna process has made it easier to compare courses and for students to get their merits abroad credited in their degree. No matter if you study in the field of communication, engineering or medicine, the opportunity of discussing, debating and developing ideas in a European context and widening your network is invaluable for your future.
Jobs, growth and wealth
In order to tackle challenges of globalisation, we have to start seeing international experience and studies at European universities as something inestimable, both for the student, the universities and the country as a whole.
By ensuring the international exchange of students and researchers in Europe, we can contribute to scientific progress and innovation that our whole continent can prosper from. The favourable environment for innovation, research and business will eventually lift the EU out of the current crisis, and the wealth it creates will secure growth and jobs on our continent in the future.
Since 1901 the US has won the Nobel Prize on 242 occasions in chemistry, physics and medicine. The European countries are far behind. Great Britain comes in at second place with 79 awards and Sweden finds itself on fifth place with our 15 awards. It is time for the intellectual capital to be identified and valued in the same way as the current freedoms of the European Union – the freedom of people, services, goods and capital. Only then will Europe be able to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy.