This is the Council of Europe Higher Education Series No. 22, exploring the challenges to the democratic mission of higher education institutions.

The Council of Europe, the International Consortium for Higher Education, Civic Responsibility and Democracy and other partners have been working to further the democratic mission of higher education for more than 15 years. In our view, higher education is not just well placed to further diversity, social inclusion and community. Higher education has a moral duty to do so, and we need not look far to see why this is a more important part of the mission of higher education than ever before. European societies are faced with challenges that higher education needs to play a key role in meeting, and it is part of higher education’s democratic mission to respond to these societies’ expectations in this respect.

This volume collates important examples of how the Council of Europe puts into practice its commitment to the promotion of a culture of democracy through education. The first section presents our recommendations on the public responsibility for higher education and research, and on ensuring quality education, both of which are pertinent to the discussion of democracy, knowledge and inclusion versus post-truth politics. Inclusive and diverse campuses – presented in the second section – are a part of the work we have been doing with the International Consortium for Higher Education, Civic Responsibility and Democracy for more than 15 years. The third section focuses on the tools and policies developed at the Council of Europe over the past few years to further education for refugees and immigrants, with particular attention dedicated to the Recommendation on the recognition of refugees’ qualifications under the Lisbon Recognition Convention; the European Qualifications Passport for Refugees, a practical tool to assess and describe refugees’ qualifications even when they cannot be adequately documented; and an innovative language toolkit for volunteers who work with adult refugees and immigrants. Finally, the work on the relationship between higher education institutions and the local communities of which they are a part is covered by the fourth section.