Rector Paulo Dias

Welcome from Rector Paulo Dias Dear Colleagues,

It is my pleasure to welcome you all to the 2013 International Council for Open and Distance Education's Standing Conference of Presidents under the topic of Leadership for Change in a Time of Openness.

It is an honour for Universidade Aberta (UAb) to be able to host the SCOP meeting in Lisbon for the third time, in the year in which the event celebrates its 20th anniversary. Lisbon was the birthplace of the meeting, and no better place could be found to mark this special occasion. Portugal is well known for its history of openness to the world, and Lisbon represents at best a cultural gateway to the globe.

The SCOP meeting has a special significance for UAb, since the instigator of the concept was our institution's founding rector and former ICDE President, the late Armando Rocha Trindade. This year's topic is a wonderful homage to him, as it is to UAb's culture and values as well. In a time of economic and social uncertainty, the tension between knowledge sharing and the process of knowledge commodification creates an additional challenge for universities. How to provide education for all at a lower cost without compromising quality and academic standards? How to become global players without jeopardizing our institutions regional culture and values? How to articulate mass scale and personalization of our services? What is the role of open universities in a time when all institutions are opening up? As leaders in a time of great and rapid changes, we face the obligation and the power to make difficult choices.

This year is a very special one for our university. We're proudly celebrating our 25th anniversary. In this period, we have grown and established the university as one of the most reputed open universities, for our quality and innovation. Moreover, we've managed successfully to meet the test of time. We have continuously improved and adjusted our organization and processes to the new social demands, ideas, pedagogical and technological challenges. This was notably the case in our complete transformation from an initial paper-based classical distance learning institution to a fully online university. We have indeed been leaders for distance and eLearning in our country, and leaders in setting its standards. As a university in the digital society we see ourselves as a hub in the global web of knowledge co-creation, sharing and recycling. We're designing our future to become even more open and disruptively innovative, continue to improve transparency and participation, be truly global in knowledge networks and flexible and collaborative learning.

SCOP 2013 will focus on the pressing and most complex challenges higher education institutions are facing today. The best and most experienced experts and organizations will be joining us. And, the format of the meeting will be more interactive than ever. We therefore hope the event will meet your highest expectations and will become a rich experience for learning, sharing and networking for us all.

Professor Paulo Dias
Rector, Universidade Aberta, Portugal

Organized by:
Universidade Aberta International Council For Open And Distance Education Eden
credits © Universidade Aberta 2013