Green light and 14.4 million euros for the Una.Universitas project for education, research, and innovation between the eleven partner institutions, including Freie Universität
The European Commission has decided to continue funding the alliance of European universities, Una Europa, of which Freie Universität Berlin is a member, for another four years. The group of eleven universities will receive 14.4 million euros for their proposed project "Una.Universitas," which promotes extensive, cross-border cooperation in education, research, and innovation. The approval of the grant was announced in Brussels on Wednesday, a decision that was welcomed by the members of the alliance, which also include Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna, University of Edinburgh, Helsingin Yliopisto, Uniwersytet Jagiellonski w Krakowie, KU Leuven, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Universiteit Leiden, University College Dublin, and Universität Zürich. Una Europa was founded in 2018 and was one of the first alliances to receive funding as part of the award-winning "European Universities" initiative. Through the new project, funded by the Erasmus+ program’s European Universities Initiative, the European Commission aims to create a truly European inter-university environment.
Una.Universitas will build on the successful flagship projects carried out by the alliance in an earlier pilot phase: 1Europe, an integration initiative through joint innovative formats for education and mobility, and Una.Resin, a project for cooperation in research and innovation. Over the next four years, the aim of the eleven partners will be to contribute their individual strengths to the program and pursue a holistic approach to ensure the true integration of the alliance’s education, research, and innovation dimensions. The partners, which include two universities from countries that are not members of the European Union (the University of Edinburgh and Universität Zürich), also want to contribute to making higher education in Europe more competitive on a global scale.
The eleven partners are planning to establish a comprehensive educational offer for students and junior researchers across Europe. By providing multidisciplinary research-based education at all levels of higher education - including research modules and research internships from bachelor level onward - the partners of Una Europa wish to ensure that graduates are well-equipped to face the future in an interconnected and rapidly changing world.
Peter Lievens, Vice Rector at KU Leuven and coordinator for the Una.Universitas project, says: "We are delighted with the European Commission’s announcement. The Una.Universitas project is the result of strong collaboration between our eleven institutions and our community of students, graduates, and staff. We are looking forward to taking the next steps toward developing a genuinely open and inclusive European university - a university that equips graduates with the skills they need to play an important role in society and overcome future global challenges."
Freie Universität Vice President for International Affairs Verena Blechinger-Talcott, who played a key role in developing Una Europa in 2021 in her position as Chair of the Board of Directors and was responsible for expanding the alliance to include universities from Leiden, Dublin, and Zurich, calls the decision a "major success." The partners’ passion and courage in successfully implementing the ambitious aims of the project - for example, establishing successful study and doctoral programs - within the first years of the alliance’s creation have paid off. The alliance embodies European values through its broad range of successes in innovative education, research, and international exchange. "It’s amazing to see how successfully the universities have come together in just a short amount of time, for example, through providing students, researchers, and other university members with a wide range of opportunities for easy mobility across borders. We’re very proud of what we have achieved."
The alliance’s network comprises more than half a million students and almost 100,000 members of university staff, with millions of distance-learning students. Since being founded, the alliance has established a Europe-wide living lab featuring more than twenty innovative educational formats. Students, researchers, and employees at partner universities can benefit from a wide range of opportunities - from participating in joint bachelor and doctoral programs, e.g., in subjects such as European Studies and Cultural Heritage, to diverse study formats and international internships. The alliance has also established a Lifelong Learning Certificate in Data Science and AI. With its project Una.Resin, the alliance has also taken its first steps toward developing a joint strategy for research and innovation. It was able to successfully achieve its goal of using shared infrastructure to reinforce international cooperation between the researchers, students, and employees of the partner universities.