5 Million Euros to Strengthen Cooperation between Seven Leading Universities in Europe
No 195/2019 from Jun 26, 2019
An alliance of seven leading European universities has secured funding from the European Commission to deepen partnerships and promote exchange between the group’s members. In addition to Freie Universität, the alliance includes Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna, University of Edinburgh, Uniwersytet Jagiello’ski w Krakowie, KU Leuven, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. Seventeen out of the 54 consortia that applied for the Erasmus+ pilot call for "European Universities" have been approved for funding. Each will receive up to five million euros over the next three years, the European Commission reported. The selected university networks will be able to use the EU funding to improve higher education in Europe and support collaborative exchange between students, staff, and their different institutions.
University President Günter M. Ziegler was overjoyed by the European Commission’s decision. He said that the EU’s support of the consortium aligns perfectly with Freie Universität’s strategy to promote internationalization in research and education. Vice President for International Affairs Verena Blechinger-Talcott noted that it is particularly important to build strong networks in these turbulent times for the European Union. The alliance sends a positive signal as an example of European cooperation and integration, she explained. The seven universities came together in 2018 as "UNA Europa" with the goal of reinforcing pre-existing partnerships. Four focus areas helped guide their interdisciplinary efforts: European studies, sustainability, cultural heritage, as well as data science and artificial intelligence.
The pilot call for "European Universities" was aimed at creating more connections between universities from all over the European Union (EU) with the idea that they would promote European values and pursue a long-term strategy. Further goals include increasing the mobility of students and employees, creating common curricula for specific subject areas, and making degree programs more flexible. Regional economic development that is also sustainable is on the agenda as well with plans for researchers and students to work closely with local businesses and government agencies.
The European Commission presented the idea for this new initiative to the EU heads of state leading up to the Social Summit in Gothenburg, Sweden, in November 2017. The European Council endorsed the initiative in December 2017 and further suggested establishing at least twenty "European Universities" by 2024 as part of an effort to create a European Education Area by 2025.