Universities throughout their history have been subjected to intensive debates on their role and function in society. This article shows how under processes of modernization and globalization the emphasis has shifted from the question whether universities should produce intellectuals, researchers or professionally trained academics to meet labour market demands, to the question what kind of competencies the university should teach to students in order to meet the Lisbon objectives.
On the basis of the current discourse on competencies and the value attached to the various kinds of competencies on the labour market, the notion of academic competence will be developed as an overarching educational concept. Three major competency areas for curriculum design are distinguished, namely specific, generic and reflexive competencies. It is argued that these competencies in their connection can reconcile the different functions of the university.
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