European Universities Initiative: bringing together a new generation of creative Europeans

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The initiative aims to enable a new generation of Europeans to cooperate across languages, borders, and disciplines.

Photo: Capri23auto / Pixabay.

The European Commission has announced the first cohort of European higher education institutions that will be part of the first “European Universities” alliances. Out of 54 applications received, 17 alliances involving 114 higher education institutions from 24 Member States were selected based on an evaluation carried out by 26 independent external experts, including rectors, professors, and researchers. Each alliance is composed of an average of seven higher education institutions from all over Europe. 

According to the press release, the goal of the European Universities initiative is to “significantly strengthen the mobility of students and staff and foster the quality, inclusiveness, and competitiveness of European higher education.“ To achieve this, the participating higher ed institutions will become inter-university campuses around which students, doctoral candidates, staff and researchers can move seamlessly. The universities will also share their expertise, platforms, and resources to deliver a joint syllabus in various disciplines.

This first call – together with a second one to be launched this autumn – will test different models to implement the new concept of European Universities and its potential to transform higher education before it is fully rolled out and scaled up under the next Erasmus+ program 2021-2027.

Offering a student-centered syllabus jointly delivered across an inter-university campus, students will be able to personalize their education, choosing what, where and when to study and get a European degree.

Moreover, the European Universities will embrace a challenge-based approach where students, academics and external partners can cooperate in cross-disciplinary teams to tackle the biggest issues facing Europe today.

“European Universities” key facts

  • 114 higher education institutions participate

  • 17 alliances 

  • A budget of up to €85 million is available for the first 17 universities cohort

  • Each alliance will receive up to €5 million in the coming three years to start implementing their plans

  • The pilot phase will begin on September-November 2019

  • From 2021 to 2027 full roll-out of the new Erasumus+ Program

So far, there is no further information that specifies how this breaking of barriers and borders will be achieved, especially in the field of language. In this initiative are participating Spanish, Catalan, French, German, English (at the moment), Italian, Norwegian, Romanian and Czech universities, to name a few. It will be interesting to see the communication and language strategy that this initiative will deploy to break the language barriers. Will they start a language teaching program so that the participants become multilingual? Will they choose a "universal" or "European" language for communication and collaboration?

The “European Universities” initiative was born at the 2017 Gothenburg Summit when EU leaders debated the future of education and outlined a vision for a European Education Area to be built by 2025.  This initiative is a flagship project of the European Education Area. 

The 2020 call for proposals will be published in autumn 2019 via EACEA funding opportunities webpages

For further information visit the European Universities Initiative webpage.