The Future of European University Alliances


5 pilot university alliances discussed both achievements and challenges of their ongoing cooperation.

The UNICA university network, which brings together 54 universities from 38 European capitals, organized a webinar with representatives of pilot alliances – Circle U, Una Europa, 4EU + Alliance, CIVIS and Eutopia on the state of play as well as future paths of their cooperation.

These are 5 out of 41 university networks, which were provided with funding for pilot phases of their 3-year projects under the two European Universities Initiative calls between 2019 and 2020. Also, Czech Charles University has been a part of the 4EU + Alliance since 2019.

Representatives of leadership of the universities from Berlin, Brussels, Bucharest, Edinburgh, Copenhagen and Oslo discussed the various paths that these networks have decided to take. It is clear that some of them focus their cooperation on specific research topics, others on student mobility; some alliances aim to create a single European campus, others plan to focus on creating joint programs. However, most of them hope that at some point they will enable students to obtain a degree through a combination of studies in several EU countries. Some chose partners who are very similar, while others rather tried to complement each other.

There is no doubt that European Universities have the strength to stand in the basics of democratic, resilient and inclusive societies that promote and protect key European values, academic freedoms and scientific integrity. They have the potential to kick-start the transformation agenda needed for the full development of the European higher education sector as a global leader in green and digital transformation. In fact, the main mission of the European Universities should be the convergence of the fields of education, research and innovation.

What are the most positive aspects of these networks? Which cooperation strategies and tools have been successful, especially during pandemic times? What are the main current challenges and what kind of support will European Universities need in the future? How can we make alliances sustainable in terms of financial resources? How do the alliances approach their expansion or the formation of new ones? And is there anything like a measurable success of European University Alliances?

This webinar, organized by UNICA in collaboration with Freie Universität Berlin and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, offers a very attractive debate on first-hand experiences that will certainly benefit those who are currently considering joining existing or emerging alliances.

The European Council published its conclusions on this issue in May this year, which will form the basis for the European Commission's recommendations and the updated call which had been expected already in September 2021.