European Universities building the higher education of future

The first achievements of the EU initiative were presented on Thursday in Brussels

Hanna Kosonen, Finnish Minister of Science and Culture speaking at the conference as shown on the monitors

On 7 November, the higher education institutions forming the initial European Universities came together for the first time to explore the benefits and opportunities created by the EU initiative.
The event, organised by the European Commission, was held in Brussels and attended by ministers, representatives of the 17 European Universities, students and academics, with the aim of providing an open forum for discussions about the importance of revolutionising the European higher education.

The debate hence highlighted the need to for deepening the interuniversity cooperation so that it produces quality education, social and regional equality and as a result better inclusiveness and competitiveness of the European higher education institutions. An information session on the second call for proposals for the European Universities Initiative took place as well.

"In the second round, a wide range of universities should be involved. This is how we create unique learning paths. The strength of the European Universities betwork is to bring together different strengths to create new kinds of knowledge", Hanna Kosonen, Finnish Minister of Science and Culture said in her closing remarks at the conference.

This event marked nearly two years since the European Council called on Member States and EU institutions to start building a true European Education Area. In this regard the EUI is considered not only a key pillar of this project, but also one of the most important political project in higher education and research at the EU level in recent years.

From the European University Association (EUA) Trends 2018 survey is known that cross-border collaboration and the mobility of students and staff are important for the development of learning and teaching. Likewise, the EUA’s work on efficiency shows how collaborations, shared services and pooling of resources can help to increase capacity and create synergies. Existing examples, such as Eucor – the European Campus – or the University of the Greater Region, to mention just two, have already shown that cross-border collaboration on an institutional scale can work where there is long-term commitment at all levels and institutions have the autonomy to develop common strategies.

Furthermore, the initiative is an opportunity to push forward reforms both at systemic and institutional levels and give new attention to some of the legal and administrative issues still hampering cross-border collaboration, be they recognition of diplomas and study periods abroad or accreditation of joint programmes – things that have been on the radar of the Bologna Process for years but may now be given a new sense of urgency.

The key challenge is to focus on the positive systemic impact of the initiative and ensure that the benefits can be spread beyond those institutions directly involved. Dissemination of good practice, as well as a close connection with existing policy processes, such as the European Higher Education Area, the European Research Area and the European Education Area, will be crucial for this.

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