Universities have existed as centres of higher learning and research in very different parts of the world since the first millennium ad. The communique discussed the social responsibility of higher education to ‘advance our understanding of multifaceted issues, which involve social, economic, scientific and cultural dimensions and our ability to respond to them’ and attributed to universities a leading role in generating global knowledge and addressing global challenges. The World Declaration of Higher Education for the Twenty-First Century, held in Paris in 1998, cited education as a fundamental pillar of human rights, democracy, sustainable development and peace and gave higher education a particular role to play in this. The financial crisis of 2008 was Europe-wide, and no country has been completely unaffected. The European Union has identified transversal competences that are to be pursued as part of formal education in order to ‘help learners find personal fulfilment and, later in life, find work and take part in society’.