UNESCO has published its second “Global Education Monitoring Report” (2017/18), with a special focus on accountability in education. Although the main focus of the report – and of Sustainable Development Goal 4: “Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning” is on basic education and the 264 million children not going to school, the report also looks at tertiary education. It shows that while the global gross enrolment rate in tertiary education has almost doubled from 19% in 2000 to 36% in 2015 – and Europe and North America reaching 75% of the age group – tertiary education attainment has basically stagnated in Central Asia and in Sub Sahara Africa.
Needless to say, research-intensive universities in Europe can’t assume responsibility for each and every one of the 17 SDGs. But universities that profess their commitment to societal engagement as well as to academic excellence might at least be expected to explain – in their strategy – which SDGs they do embrace and why those SDGs rather than others.