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Event Project News Video

United Universities 3rd Panel Discussion

Europe, 13 April 2021. Mingling among journalists, authors, strategy advisors, university administrators, researchers, students — to gain deeper insights into higher education policy in Europe. The initiative ‘United Universities of Europe’ has gathered distinguished guests to discuss the current state of European University Alliances, their recent past and imminent future.

This 3rd UUU Panel Debate navigates between past and future. What’s the status quo of European University Alliances? What did they achieve so far? How did Corona and Brexit affect them? What are their current challenges? What will the future look like for them? Will they change the European higher education landscape or disappear?

Journalist Tino Brömme from Berlin, and higher ed strategist Peter van der Hijden from Brussels, discuss it. A special light on the damage inflicted by Brexit on British and Continental universities is being cast by journalist Anne Corbett, Paris, and Nenad Zrnić, vice-rector of the University of Belgrade.

What does the future hold? — Pedro Marques talks about his research on university-society interaction in science-fiction literature, and European students reflect on their utopia of the future university, before Brömme/van der Hijden consider what the upcoming decisions of the European Council mean for European Universities.

Guests:

Anne Corbett is a Senior Associate at LSE Consulting with long-standing experience in the field of higher education and Europe as a researcher, a journalist and a contributor to public policy. She holds a PhD in political science and a BA in History. Her work has appeared in the education press and British dailies. She continues to write for University World News where she recently published A mercantilist approach to higher education post-Brexit. Her books include Universities and the Europe of Knowledge.

Pedro Marques is specialised in regional development, innovation and governance in peripheral regions of the EU. He works at ingenio, a research institute affiliated with the Technical University of Valencia, a member of the European University Alliance ENHANCE. Not only is he a Ramon y Cajal fellow but also a principal investigator in a Innovative Training Network funded by the European Union. He is co-author of the research paper Fiction lagging behind or non-fiction defending the indefensible? University-industry (et al.) interaction in science fiction.

Peter van der Hijden is an independent strategy advisor, helping European University Alliances on the design and further strategic positioning of their proposals. He has worked for the European Commission where his main experience lied in higher education and research: the Erasmus Programme, the modernisation agenda for universities, the European Higher Education Area (Bologna Process) and the European Research Area. His latest article, Mitigating brain drain by connecting universities, discusses a policy report of the European Commission.

Nenad Zrnić is Vice-Rector for International Relations at the University of Belgrade, a member of the European University Alliance Circle U. He is a full professor in the field of material handling and logistics, a corresponding member of the Academy of Engineering Sciences of Serbia. Since 2015 he is a coordinator of one of the working groups for preparing new Serbian Law on a Higher Education.

As part of the 3rd UUU Panel Debate, students of the Una Europa alliance were interviewed about the question: How is your ideal university of the future? They had just participated in Una Europa’s first Student Congress on February 24, 2021. — Their answers showed how aware today’s students are of flexible learning paths, of the world’s ever stronger interconnections and of their own potential to contribute to better learning and teaching environments? The participants are Emily Hartmann (Freie Universität Berlin), Giacomo Zanni (Università di Bologna), Hubert Jakub Bieniek (Uniwersytet Jagielloński), Luca Di Cunto (Università di Bologna), and Weronika Łukasińska (Uniwersytet Jagielloński).

Host:

Tino Brömme, a graduate in communication science and media consultancy, has worked for over 30 years as a journalist, publisher, moderator and event manager across Europe. He was the founder of the multilingual student magazine WORK|OUT, and the news agency ESNA. He publishes articles and multimedia content, mainly on science policy, and is currently preparing a documentary film about Universities in the 21st Century.

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News

CHARM-EU launches Sustainability Master

Barcelona, 8 April 2021. The CHARM-EU university alliance has just launched a Master in Global Challenges for Sustainability as a new international, innovative, flexible, inclusive programme with a challenge-driven, research-based curriculum. International student mobility is at the core of the programme which will start in September 2021. The deadline for applications is soon: 15 April 2021.

Global Challenges for Sustainability 

Students on the Master’s in Global Challenges for Sustainability will take 3 compulsory phases. The Preparatory Phase module will be featuring general capacities related to sustainability, social innovation and transdisciplinary research. The second part of the master’s degree will be flexible, allowing students to choose on one of three sustainability themes: Water, Food or Life & Health. Finally, students will be required to do a capstone project on a sustainability challenge in collaboration with extra academic actors (i.e. business, community and society).

The programme is unique and innovative in various aspects, including the flexible three phased course structure, integrated mobility experiences, broader content focus, overall transdisciplinary approach and challenge-based environment.

This is a unique opportunity to obtain an accredited master’s degree jointly awarded by the five CHARM-EU partners’ universities: University of Barcelona, Trinity College Dublin, Utrecht University, Eötvös Loránd University and University of Montpellier.

As a student you will have the opportunity to: 

  • develop creative and critical thinking skills
  • research and evaluate complex societal challenges from different stakeholder and intercultural perspectives
  • assess and integrate different disciplinary and transdisciplinary knowledge and research methodologies 
  • acquire expertise and communicate effectively on ‘real-life’ and complex issues 
  • acquire advanced transversal competencies in problem solving, entrepreneurialism, innovation, digital skills and a life-long learning disposition.

An innovative learning experience 

The master’s programme is utilizing innovative pedagogies of the five CHARM-EU partner institutions, supporting knowledge in cross-disciplinary and intercultural teams, and striving to make the knowledge square – education, research, innovation and service to society – a reality.

The programme will be student centered, as students will be able to direct their own learning processes. 

Mobility as a key feature 

International activities, such as student mobility is at the core of the Master’s in Global Challenges for Sustainability. CHARM-EU identifies mobility as a key tool for enhancing the quality of all teaching and learning processes for all prospective CHARM-EU citizens. CHARM-EU students therefore will be part of one university community with multiple campuses across countries creating a unified international ecosystem with seamless mobility flows and accompanying international activities. 

Who can apply?

The Master’s in Global Challenges for Sustainability is aimed at graduates of any discipline from diverse backgrounds who want to acquire advanced knowledge of sustainability by addressing real and global societal challenges. Students will learn challenge analysis skills and extend their capabilities to address and develop solutions for complex problems.

Applicants will need to hold at least a bachelor’s degree or recognised equivalent to a bachelor’s degree. An English language certification (C1) is necessary for programme admission. 

Apply now! 

CHARM-EU

CHARM-EU is an alliance between the University of Barcelona (coordinator), Trinity College Dublin, Utrecht University, the University of Montpellier and Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest. CHARM-EU represents a Challenge-Driven, Accessible, Research-based and Mobile model for the co-creation of a European University aligned with the European Values, the European Green Deal and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

You can find out more about CHARM-EU in this video

Further information

The Masters in Global Challenges for Sustainability will have 90 ECTS credits and it extends over 18 months. The Master’s degree is jointly awarded by the five CHARM-EU partner universities. All course information and online application details are available at: www.charm-eu.eu/masters/globalchallenges  

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News

Circle U. gets a legal identity

Louvain, 30.03.2021. The seven partner universities have set up the Circle U. AISBL to frame the long-term collaboration in the alliance.

The Circle U. partner universities established Circle U. AISBL as an international not-for-profit organisation under Belgian law. The official signing took place in the presence of the President of the Université de Paris, Christine Clerici, Hege Landmark-Høyvik, Counsellor for Education in the Mission of Norway to the EU, representing the University of Oslo, and Rector Vincent Blondel of UCLouvain, who also signed on behalf of Aarhus University, the University of Belgrade, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and King’s College London. Given the Covid-19 pandemic, strict sanitary measures were put in place.

The establishment of the new organisation marks a first milestone in the 3-year Erasmus+ project to set up the alliance. But the new organisation also points beyond the initial project collaboration.

The Circle U. AISBL shows our commitment to building a truly European University, and will help facilitate the long-term joint management of our alliance. It gives us a framework for working together that goes beyond project cycles, and provides a platform for collaboration with other universities and other organisations on our own terms and on a longer horizon, says Rector Blondel.

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News Other

EUA paper on governance models

Brussels, 18 March 2021. This is the first briefing in a new EUA series focused on evolving university governance. The publication explores the governance set-up of the European University Alliances formed under the EU’s European Universities Initiative.

For the first time, the document by Thomas Estermann, Enora Bennetot Pruvot and Hristiyana Stoyanova, presents a comparative overview of the complex governance structures of these networks, examining their ability to sustain beyond the three-year project time frame, while remaining relevant for their members.

The analysis highlights several challenges that focus on the alliances’ governance sustainability and draws the attention of universities and policy makers to the conditions needed to sustain their financial capacity and ensure increased collaboration and better alignment with institutional strategic priorities.

Download here

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Interview Video

United Universities – Is it science fiction?

Berlin and Valencia, 5 March 2021. Science fiction literature is a classic field for scientists to ask self-referential questions. A recent study follows this path, and Tino Brömme, host of the UUU Debate series, interrogates Pedro Marques about the paper he wrote as a co-author of Joaquín Azagra and Laura Salmerón.

This is interesting for an audience curious about spirit and knowledge, and in particular, about European University Alliances, those new, EU-funded university networks set up as experimental cross-border social laboratories.

ENHANCE is one of these European University Alliances, it includes the Universitat Politècnica de València, to which Pedro’s research is affiliated. How does society value science? How do citizens see the University? How does literature, as a segment of public perception, depict researchers? Are they in it only for money, fame and power? Are universities ivory towers of an arrogant elite? Do scientists work for the public good? — European University Alliances like ENHANCE are forced by the EU’s funding requirements to claim that they are working “for society” —, but how true is that?

The interview is part of the UUU Panel Debate series started in 2020 at the Berlin Science Week. It has been produced by ESNA European Higher Education News, moderated by Tino Brömme, recorded and edited by Tomas Rigoni, provided with a soundtrack by Ralf Briechle, and supervised by Caucaso Factory (www.caucaso.info) and StartupTV (www.startuptv.io).

Teaser

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Event News

The European Uni – One Idea, Different Models

Registration here

Berlin & online, 3 March 2021. As part of the Una Europa Staff Week, on March 3rd, 9.30 a.m. CET, the homonymous University Alliance plans an online talk titled “The European University — One Idea, Different Models.”

The organisers have chosen a broad approach, they think “that the idea of the European University has seen the development of multifaceted models over the course of the last years. There is a proliferation of networks and programs, which aim at making the European university landscape more diverse and inclusive by fostering relationships between universities and encouraging collaboration between a multitude of different actors. In this talk, we want to ask which steps have been taken towards the idea of a European university and discuss directions for future developments that unfold from the joint activities of university alliances, networks, and partnerships.”

The FU website informs: “There is a proliferation of models, programs and formats among [University Alliances]. The aims and objectives of the various networks are very heterogeneous. Some concentrate their co-cooperation on specific research themes, others on student mobility, some want to create a unified European Campus, others plan to create ‘only’ joint programs. Most of them hope to enable students at some point to obtain a degree by combining studies in several EU countries. Some chose partners who were very much like themselves, others went for complimentary partners.”

In this talk, representatives of the three networks Una Europa, Eutopia and Unite! have been invited to discuss the different paths these networks are currently going. They will talk about challenges they all have to face and the hopes they have for their future development. Among the questions to be discussed will be the following:

  • Which strategies and instruments of cooperation have been successful, particularly in times of a pandemic?
  • How far do the universities within the networks want to go in terms of forming a new joint European identify?
  • What are currently the main challenges in building European structures and programs – legal issues, financial issues, visionary issues, national egoisms to name but a few?
  • Where do the new networks see themselves in comparison to already existing European higher education institutions?
  • How far did some individual universities already change in the process?
  • What are the biggest positive aspects of the networks? Or is it too early to tell?
  • What are best practice models? A fusion of European universities into one or a European network?
  • Some networks have UK member institutions – how will the networks deal with Brexit?
  • How can we make the networks sustainable in terms of finance?
  • How would you measure the success of a ‘European University’?
  • Where do we envisage the networks in ten years from now?”

These questions will be discussed by our panel of experts:

  • James Smith, Vice-Principal International at University of Edinburgh, and Representative of Una Europa
  • Eva Wiberg, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Gothenburg, and Representative of EUTOPIA
  • Jens Schneider, Vice President of Transfer and International Affairs at Technische Universität Darmstadt, and Representative of UNITE!

The panel discussion will be moderated by Verena Blechinger-Talcott, Vice-President International at Freie Universität Berlin, and Representative of Una Europa.

Sources: Una Europa | FU Berlin

Categories
Project News Video

UUU Panel 2 – Intermezzo: What is UUU?

Berlin, 8 December 2020. UUU director Tino Brömme, in an interview on the Crelle Market in Berlin-Schöneberg, answers what United Universities if Europe or UUU is about. The interview is part of the 2nd panel debate inquiring on “Vocations and Competencies in the Age of European Universities.”

Watch part 1 of the panel debate here, and part 2 here.

Guests:

  • Eva-Maria Feichtner, YUFE, Universität Bremen
    Vice President International and Diversity
  • Jörg Niehoff, European Commission, DG EAC
    Policy Coordinator University Business cooperation
  • Peter van der Hijden, higher education strategy advisor
  • Nadine Shovakar, Universität Potsdam, EDUC Project Manager
  • Katrine Moland Hansen, Universitetet i Bergen, Local ARQUS Alliance Coordinator
  • Magdalena Sikorska, Politechnika Poznańska, EUNICE Project Officer
  • Thibaut Skrzypek, EELISA, École des Ponts ParisTech, Work Package Leader
Categories
Video

UUU Panel 2.1 – EDUC, EUNICE, ARQUS & EELISA

Berlin, Poznań, Bergen, Paris, Potsdam, 8 December 2020. United Universities of Europe: “Vocations and Competencies in the Age of European Universities” – UUU panel debate 2, part 1: Policy officers from four different University Alliances in four different countries describe their new positions: How does the need for international co-operation shape their professions? Which new skills do the need? Which special tasks and challenges have arisen? How do their new professions evolve?

Guests:

  • Magdalena Sikorska, Politechnika Poznańska, EUNICE Project Officer
  • Katrine Moland Hansen, Universitetet i Bergen, Local ARQUS Alliance Coordinator
  • Thibaut Skrzypek, EELISA, École des Ponts ParisTech, Work Package Leader
  • Nadine Shovakar, Universität Potsdam, EDUC Project Manager

Organiser:

  • Tino Brömme, ESNA European Higher Education News

See part 2 of the panel debate here; see the intermission here

TRANSKRIPT

     Guten Morgen, Europa! Good morning, Europe! Buon giorno, Europa! Benvenuti cittadini del mondo! – I must say, it is always a pleasure to start something in Italian because this is the language that gives me the most European feeling of all. Dante Alighieri was the first of all Europeans. I remember this line of his Odysseus who says to his crew: “Fatti non foste a viver come bruti, ma per seguir virtute e conoscenza.” Odysseus embarks to discover the unknown and says to his crew: You are not made to live like beasts, but to search virtue and knowledge. And this is exactly what European universities are doing nowadays, they are on a quest, on a new way to explore themselves.

This is the second panel discussion of United Universities of Europe. And we are trying to explore what’s going on in European universities who have joined into greater units, into alliances. One way to find out how they are, how they’re working, is to look at the people who work there, is to see how they’re working there. And for that, we have invited a number guests today. Some of them are policy officers and coordinators in these alliances. We start with Magdalena Sikorska from the EUNICE Alliance in Poznań, the Poznań University of Technology is leading this alliance. We will speak afterwards with Thibaut Skrzypek from the École des Ponts ParisTech who is a Work Package Leader of the EELISA Alliance. Then we are meeting Katrine Moland Hansen from Bergen who is the Local ARQUS Alliance Coordinator there. And then we’ll meet Nadine Shovakar from the University of Potsdam, not far from here, from Berlin, who is the Project Manager of EDUC, European Digital UniverCity Alliance. This will be the first half hour of our panel discussion where we find out what these coordinators are actually doing at work. Then we have a little break where we talk with Peter van der Hijden, a higher education policy advisor. And after the break, we continue to go deeper into the topic and talk with Eva-Maria Feichtner. She’s a Vice President of the University of Bremen. And after that, we meet Jörg Niehoff, Policy Coordinator for University-Business Cooperation in the European Commission. So this is the programme overall. And I would like to start right away with our first guest who is Magdalena Sikorska. Hello Magda!

Magdalena Sikorska Hello, everyone. Good morning

Good morning. So you’re speaking from Poznań, the leading institution of the EUNICE Alliance, right?

Magdalena Sikorska Right. Actually, we pronounce it “junis” or you can pronounce it “you-nice” or however you want to, but this stands for European University for Customised Education. And actually, I represent Poznań University of Technology, and we are the only Polish university that is the leader of its consortium. So definitely this is a great privilege. But also it entails a lot of challenges for us.

     Is it true that Poland also has given a special support, also financial support to the universities, to Polish universities in the University Alliances?

Magdalena Sikorska Yes, that’s true. We are supported by our government. All together there are 11 Polish universities that are a part of the Alliances among the first call of 2019 and 2020. So we are supported financially by our government.

     I understand that you are the Project Officer of the EUNICE Alliance. In what consists your work, actually, or the collaboration with your colleagues in Poznań for the Alliance?

Magdalena Sikorska Yes. So actually, the structure of the core people who are the creating team of EUNICE at our university is: On the strategic level, we have our Vice President for international cooperation, professor Pawel Śniatala who is the EUNICE coordinator. And we have created within our university structure a completely new unit that is basically dealing with the Alliance and it is dedicated to the European University. And at this point, there are two people working in this unit. It will be my colleague Anna Bashinska (?) who is there a Communication Officer for the Alliance, and myself, I am working as a Project Officer. So we are both working on this operational level of the alliance. But of course, this is just the core. And without getting different people from different faculty members, administrative workers on board, you will then be able to to implement the project. So that’s very important to work and invite over people from different different units, different departments from the university. And also important aspect is the financial department, because we as a leader, we are responsible for distributing money, for monitoring progress, for reports, also financial reports. So this financial aspect is also very important. So team working and cooperation, this is what is important in implementing such a project at the university.

     I’m not working inside. I am trying to imagine what you’re doing. So the main part is communication and project planning, or how can I understand this?

Magdalena Sikorska My task is to communicate and disseminate. We have just started, we had a kick-off meeting a few days ago with the European Commission. We just started the project on November 1st, so we are at this organisational stage of our Alliance at this point. We are getting and building the teams from faculty members, from different disciplines so that they are helping us with implementing the project. We’re working on different work packages, working on deliverables. But myself, I’m working more on this administrative level. So co-operating with all our partners from Spain, France, Belgium, Italy, Finland and then Germany. And so it’s important to communicate with everybody internally, but also externally. We have already created our website and we have many stakeholders contacting us. And you need to a find a good way to communicate and disseminate information about your alliance outside of it.

     Would you say that you have noticed the different working style of your colleagues in the other countries and other universities? Perhaps another way they approach problems than you do as a Northern European?

Magdalena Sikorska To some extent, yes. You know, our alliance is very widely distributed across Europe. We have people coming from north and the western part, there are different characters, a different pace of work, different approaches. The issue is also different academic calendars, because, for instance, during the summer time, some of the universities are closed and we had to work on some important issues that the Commission required from us. But we (in Poznań), as the leader (of the project), have to deal with these situations and have to somehow cope with that.

     Magda, the last question for now. What would you think is the most exciting or the most interesting new task that you have taken over now that you’re doing this job as a EUNICE Project Officer? Which of these tasks that you have is the most challenging, most difficult, most interesting?

Magdalena Sikorska I guess there are many of them. I would say that the team work is very important, solving problems, work management. These are all important aspects of your work because you need to deal with different challenges. Like, for instance, we work on this cloud and then everybody works there. And, for instance, one day you’ll deal with an issue but somebody has forgotten his password and cannot access it. But on the other day, you might be dealing with an issue of failure in a backup. And that’s a bigger issue. So that involves some kind of risk management and so on. At the end of the day, the added value of working within the Alliance is the work in the international environment. And that’s something that I really value in my work. Also, I think is important when you speak different languages, because we stress the importance of multilingualism in our Alliance. So it can be valuable when you are able to understand documents and facts in the other languages when you work with your partners from abroad. But we also stress in our Alliance that multilingualism is an important feature of our future EUNICE graduates because we believe knowing other languages will make you will be better for you when you apply for a job. So will increase your employability, being a graduate of such an Alliance.

     Well Magda, grazie per questa bellissima contribuzione. Thank you for this precious contribution.

     We switch now to our second guest, Katrine. Now we’re going into the far north of Europe to Bergen where Katrine is the ARQUS Coordinator. ARQUS is an Alliance that is already active over a year. And you are with the Alliance nearly a year, for 10 month, right Katrine?

Katrine Moland Hansen I started at the University of Bergen in Norway to take on this task of coordinating and leading our activities linked to the ARQUS Alliance.

     Katrine, you have been already working in an international environment before. Can you say what you did before and how you got into this (new job)?

Katrine Moland Hansen Prior to starting at the University of Bergen, I worked for the Norwegian National Agency, where I coordinated ERASMUS+ for higher education in Norway. And prior to that, I also worked for six years in Brussels dealing with policy issues with more in the business and trade area. So for me personally, getting to know the university in the past has been an important task this first year, and I’m still sort of getting to know the institutions.

     You told me what you found most challenging when you started this new job. It was working internationally, and working across disciplines and departments. Could you explain a little bit what you’re doing, actually?

Katrine Moland Hansen I think this is an opportunity in the Alliance that we get to work both international, of course, and and across different structures within the university. Nothing of this is new in itself, but the scope and extent of these activities are very new and the ambition of the ARQUS Alliance challenges how we work. So organisation-wise, it’s extremely interesting and it encourages new ways of co-operating internally at our institution as well as with our partners.

The thought of this, of getting to know the differences and similarities between partners, what has been a bit surprising to me, was also the extent of working with local structures and anchoring the alliance activities within our institution. We have now set up an internal structure to support efficient decision-making and management in a “matrix organisation.” The work is so extensive involving more than 50 staff, so it’s important to ensure a coordinated approach. And we have, amongst other things, set up a coordination group.

     One thing is also very interesting that ARQUS Alliance has pledged to reach out society, to connect with the – as Vanessa Debiais-Sainton (from the European Commission) put it – the innovative ecosystem. What does it mean in practical terms? How do you connect? What difficulties do you have?

Katrine Moland Hansen Of course, the pandemic situation hasn’t helped, but we have plans to develop a regional socio-economic network in one of our action lines. This could be an important resource both in our work in innovation and entrepreneurship, equality and education, of course, as for the relevance of our education and for our challenge-based programme, to name some examples. We have been in dialogue with potential partners, but it’s a challenging period to develop new partnerships. This comprehensive approach can be beneficial in oder to be more coordinated towards external stakeholders. Linking ARQUS to other initiatives at our institution, at local, regional, national and European levels is key here.

    Would you say that the Corona virus and the need to communicate so much online has slowed down your co-operation possibilities this year?

Katrine Moland Hansen We have had a lot of communication activities for digital channels such as this, but engaging more in informal settings is not so relevant now. So I think we have changed the focus a bit and then we can make up for that, once the situation changes. And so we focus more on the task that can be done in a digital way and at our desks, before moving on to do more outreach activities and informal settings.

      So the last question, adding to this, would you agree that being confined to the online and the digital communication is also an opportunity to think more about the communicative structures and to prepare them?

Katrine Moland Hansen Yes, I think that has been very important now. One of the few benefits of the situation is actually that we have been able to reflect a bit internally on how we work. And I think also it has made us be more innovative in working in different ways and new ways that we also can continue to do after this crisis. And I think we will come out stronger. For instance, the university as Bergen is leading a challenge-based education programme. And the idea was to have a physical school where to bring our students together. Instead, we had to reflect on how to do this in a way that will be more a blended format. So we will not travel and meet, but hopefully students at different institutions will be able to meet. And and we will still interact. So we have been able to sort of innovate the way we do it and ensuring that while the outcome will not be the same, it will hopefully be of the same quality, even though we can’t meet physically. So, I think it has allowed us to think in different ways how we work.

     Katrine, thank you so far.

     I would like now to invite Thibaut to join our round. Thibaut, hello to Paris! Thibaut is Work Package Leader at the École des Ponts in Paris. His alliance is named EELISA, which is concentrated on engineering schools. Thibaut, is it true that the École des Ponts is the oldest engineering school in France?

Thibaut Skrzypek ENSTA, which is also located in Paris, was created in the mid-18th century, 1741, for the École des Ponts. So the king by this time was not Emmanuel Macron but was Louis XV.

     Emmanuel Macron was in your building lately, I remember. Well, did you meet him?

Thibaut Skrzypek Last week he gave an interview in the media offices located in my building. So when I went to the trash bins, I saw plenty of police officers and security agents. I said, please don’t shoot, I will put the paper in the right bin, don’t shoot!

     Emmanuel Macron, whatever his other politics are, gave an European input to this European Universities Alliance initiative. This has been a good start in 2017 and now nearly 300 universities are organised in these 41 University Alliances and the École des Ponts is one of them. Thibaut, how has your professional practise changed from bilateral to multilateral since you are working for EELISA?

Thibaut Skrzypek My regular job, my usual practise, is just bilateral or mainly bilateral. So it means that only one border is crossed in terms culture, of working methods or local regulation. So with those multilateral projects like the European Universities, (I have) a lot of borders to cross, this multinational and it brings elements of complexity, of course, and it makes things a little bit spicier.

     Can you give a practical example?

Thibaut Skrzypek Well, the EELISA Alliance, which stands for European Engineering, Learning, Innovation and Science Alliance, is mainly focussed on building a “European Engineer,” the way to practise the profession of engineering. And the way the accreditation agencies control the education and diplomas are different from one country to another. So we must take care and look closely to those differences in order to target what is the aim of our Alliance, which is to design an integrated European Engineering Degree.

     Is your work package concentrated especially on this?

Thibaut Skrzypek So the École des Ponts is a member of the EELISA Alliance. The EELISA Alliance is coordinated by the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid. My institution is in charge of the Work Package dedicated to accreditation and education management. So it means that we therefore will analyse differences between the curricula, the requirements, and we will strengthen our common approaches and create new ones. We will design credential diploma supplements as intermediate steps in order to target EELISA Degree. And of course, we will have exchanges with our national authorities. For instance, I have this afternoon meeting with the French National Accreditation Agency, the Commission des titres des ingénieur (CTI). So the aim is to contribute to the removal of barriers for the practise of engineering in Europe. But I think also the objective is to strengthen the attractiveness of the European educated engineer around the world.

    Well, wouldn’t it be easier just to take the German engineering diploma and to adopt it in every country?

Thibaut Skrzypek I don’t know if this would be easy. But probably three years will be very short in order to reach this goal.

      So your task is, on one hand, to look at how engineering is taught in the different members of the Alliance, and also how the different legal systems are to create a diploma, or what is your work consisting of in detail?

Thibaut Skrzypek I think, they are those two approaches. An approach from the institution of higher education. So we look closely to the requirements, to the courses, to the credits, to the internships – really the design of the curricula. And there is also the look from the local authorities and the professional organisations in terms of practises, of practise, of titles. We will have to look closely to those both aspects: from institutional point of view, the Unions of engineers, for instance, and from the side of the accreditation agencies and local authorities.

    Do you think a common European engineering degree will be more attractive internationally?

Thibaut Skrzypek I think so. I hope. There is this North American US accreditation label, which is called ABET, and it is widely, widely used around the world. I would like to have a European engineering degree or label like the US. We have the ENAEE organisation amongst our members, as a partner member of the EELISA Alliance, in order to have this European engineer, European educated engineer. And I think this kind of engineer has specificities in terms of science, in terms of connexion with the society. This is really a European specificity that we should be proud of.

     Alone the public debate about the development of this degree, is certainly modernising the way of thinking of how engineers are working. Maybe I’ll ask a last question, Thibaut. What special skills did you have to learn now for this new position as a Work Package Leader, as a coordinator for the Alliance?

Thibaut Skrzypek I’m sure that project management and delivery related to European Universities or Work Packages or so require new skills. Or rather a combination of skills. Skills that we already have within our institution, within our teams, like our budget and financial monitoring, electrical engineering instruments. It means different skills, so different people in different departments, and having them in the right tempo. So that is challenging, knowing how to mobilise colleagues, targeting their interests and having their added values as much relevant as possible. So I would say, fortunately, European Universities are finding a really positive echo within our teams and our institution. We have plenty of enthusiasm. But colleagues’ time, it’s a more delicate subject.

     Thibaut, thank you so much. I’m so happy, speaking with Paris is already gratifying for me.

      Well, let’s come back to a city not so far from Berlin, to Potsdam. We are being joined by our fourth participant in the first part of this panel discussion. It is Nadine Shovakar. She is a project coordinator for EDUC, the Alliance for the Digital European UniverCity. It is a word game, university as a “city,” exactly. It’s very nice. Nadine, on your career path, you are coming from the Austrian University Conference, the association of Austrian universities. And from there then you joined in Potsdam the European University Alliance. You made a step from Austria to Berlin or to Potsdam, to be precise. What were the first news that you noticed when you arrived, workwise?

Nadine Shovarkar I was going to say, how the food has changed, but yes, I’ll concentrate on the work. Welcome from my side also. As Tino was saying, I am Nadine and I work for EDUC, the European Digital UniverCity. What was new here? Of course, I mean, the biggest change, I would say compared to the Rectors conference, is that now I work at one university, I mean, as in the European project. But it is a different kind of institution than the Rectors conference. That was probably the first impression. I was welcomed very, you might say, French, we had a coffee first and some croissants with the Vice President, professor Schweigert. We are also coordinating the EDUC Alliance, professor Schweigert is the leader in that sense. And we had a nice breakfast with the head of the international office, my fellow project manager, Dr. Katja Jung. And I think, his strategic advise was also there. So this was my very first impression. And then, of course, the beautiful campus of the University of Potsdam. So but these are like my feelings. So it was a very nice start, I have to say.

     Well, I am calling from here from the suburb of Potsdam, which is Berlin, to hear what is going on in the capital of Brandenburg. We have been talking about your job and your challenges, your task that you have now as a project manager of EDUC. One key word that has come up with change management. So, apparently what you are doing is communicating and project planning in order to change something. How would you describe this kind of work and in particular for the Alliance?

Nadine Shovarkar First of all, you know, nobody likes change, in general. And this is a very big change management project. Actually it is a project that is supposed to be a structure later. We have like different lines of our development. One is to bring it from project to structure. The other one is to ‘talk for institutional change,’ as I would call it. So we are trying to find allies within all of our six institutions. Basically, we are trying to reach out and connect to as many people as possible. And as I was saying, nobody likes change, that’s true. However and luckily, the European Universities Initiative – I found at the University of Potsdam and also at our partners generally – has a very positive notion and positive feeling. So people are generally willing to be part of it. Then, of course, the next personal sort of feeling that I got is that everybody likes change when it is just like – “Oh, you were joking before! Yeah, let’s do that in European level, which means let’s take my way and make it European.” [laughs] So the real change is to profoundly talk. And that is also the part that takes time, to actually get to know each other and to see processes and to learn from each other, and then to possibly, in an efficient way, change processes, or align processes, or to see what you can do together. So we are working on all different levels, as Katrine was saying, within the university. We are going from the Senate, the President’s office. We are going to meet the students, we had a Facebook event to engage with them. We are also collaborating with staff on very different levels. The research office, like all sorts of different actors within the university, where, of course, as change agents, we are always trying to reach the ones who are willing, the ones who are already interested, and they help us. Because alone you can’t do anything and you don’t want to, also because it has to become a project of the university that the people want. You can’t come top-down and say, I want to change this for that. It has to come from within the university, which is, of course, always a balance of top-down. You come with ideas, you discuss with people.

Certain things will come from bottom-up as an example, maybe to not just talk in general terms. On Monday, yesterday, we launched a call for research seminars or workshops, which means that within the Alliance we have seven research topics and we are trying to find doctoral candidates and researchers to join and see what project they can develop within a week. These are very broad topics, like health, or European studies. So we are, on the one hand, within the Alliance, sort of in a top-down, but very broad way, deciding on these research topics, of course, keeping the university strategies in mind so it doesn’t come from nowhere. But then on the other hand, we send out a call to every researcher at the university to try to reach everybody and give everybody the possibility to partake, if they want to. Then at the same time, of course, like talking of the change agents or those who are motivated. We are also talking individually to those professors who are already very pro-Europe, very much like always into international projects. We always have sort of a approach to trying to include everybody and of course, trying to identify people who are especially eager to to contribute to this idea. So this is just one example of how we are trying to bring about the change.

     One technical term that always came up also with the other participants of our panel, is the term challenge-based. Apparently the European Commission has written it into the programme, but it would be interesting to know more what this actually means.

Nadine Shovarkar Yes, we are talking again about institutional change. We are trying to come from a few professors in each institution who already work like that, who are trying to get challenges from the society – it could be from companies, could be from NGOs, could be from the wider public – into the universities and work with them in their seminars or courses or whatever it is to make it a little more systemic. We try to include these challenges into the into our learning activities.
I think the other thing that is typical for the European Universities or special about it is that the challenge-based approach is combined with an international approach. So we have, for example, these courses, which are now often online and will later be blended. For example, University of Potsdam would have a course with he University of Rennes, the students would then also meet for one week and work on a project which ideally is a challenge. So it does combine these elements to work on concrete challenges which come from society and to also work on them internationally.
So I think that is basically the idea of the European Alliance, what makes it special. But it doesn’t mean that this doesn’t exist yet. And this is again, we are trying to connect and strengthen those people who already work like that. Because at each of our member universities, there are already people who do sort of what we do, but what is being fostered by the European Alliances. So it is nothing new it is a streamlining or an empowering process for people who work that way.

     Well, there is there’s a new community of coordinators work package leaders and project officers only working for and trying to develop these European University Alliances. It is a totally new group of people working in a certain spirit and with a certain professionalism. So if you reflect upon your own, your own profession, what is special about it? Can it be defined in a job description?

Nadine Shovarkar In my personal experience, what especially is the diversity. As also Katrine was saying before, going into so many different fields and, of course, personally I am a little torn, because I don’t like the speed that comes mainly from the European Commission, like the kind of TGV train that we are on to try to bring about change. I used to work for in the (Austrian) Rectors Conference, and there are sometimes similar processes. There are 22 Austrian universities and we were trying to bring about change or have a new topic like e.g. the open publishing. Aand we would come up with a certain framework or help the universities to do it in a streamlined way within Austria. But this kind of project would go on or take maybe half a year, a year, until it comes to the working people, to processes.
So now, we are on a three year project and we are trying to see deliverables and trying to see concrete actions for very big topics. So this is also something special about the European Universities, which is also good, because the good thing is you might say the longer you talk about it, maybe nothing happens. And if you do it quickly, at least something happens. I don’t know. But this is something I feel is is special about the European alliance. Also fun as well.

    Thank you for your contribution. Thanks also to the other participants, Magda, Thibaut, and Katrine. We come to the end of the first half of our talk and we have found out in what the job of project manager or a coordinator in the European University Alliance consists.

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4EU+ Open Session and Round Table

Prague, 16 November 2020. The Annual Meeting of the 4EU+ Alliance was be held as an online event, organized by Charles University. It consists of three main parts:

In the morning, various stakeholders from the 4EU+ Community explore selected topics of central relevance for the Alliance during the micro think-tank sessions. In parallel, the 4EU+ Governing Board holds its regular meeting with the 4EU+ Management Committee and Vice-Rectors/Vice-Presidents of member universities.

Charles University Rector Tomáš Zima officially takes over the position of the Chair of the 4EU+ Governing Board from the President of Sorbonne University Jean Chambaz at the General Assembly.

4EU+ Academic Council will be officially inaugurated as a Governance Body of the Alliance.

The Open Session of the Annual Meeting, organised with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, starts at 16:00. All the partners and friends of the 4EU+ European University Alliance are invited to join. Main outcomes of the micro think-tanks sessions are being shared, successful Flagship projects are being presented and a round-table discussion on the topic “4EU+ as a prototype for synergy between research and education” is being held.

The detailed programme of the Open Session:

Welcome by the Rectors, Ambassadors, European Commissioner, Members of the Czech Government

    • Welcome by CU Rector Tomáš Zima

    • Welcome by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Tomáš Petříček

    • Greetings by the Deputy Minister of Education Václav Velčovský

    • Greetings by the ambassadors

    • President of Sorbonne University Jean Chambaz: achievements of 4EU+ in 2020

    • Rector of Charles University Tomáš Zima: Priorities of 4EU+ under the GB Chair of CU Rector Tomáš Zima

    • Greetings by the European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel

Reports from the micro think-tanks sessions by student co-chairs

Topic 1: Just Wishful Thinking? The claim of synergy between research and teaching in 4EU+ Janathan Juarez Altuzar (HU)

Topic 2: 4EU+ and Europe: Can 4EU+ make us better Europeans? Can 4EU+ strengthen Europe? And should it? If yes, how? Eliška Černovská (CU)

Topic 3: Mobility, connectivity, exchange: Which mix of modes cooperating within 4EU+ works best? What can be gained by certain modes? And what is lost? Bret Doerksen (UM)

Key topic: 4EU+ as a prototype for synergy between research and education

  • Presentation of one successful project per Flagship

    Flagship 1: Urban Health Case Challenge
    Flagship 2: Cooperative Network Philotrans
    Flagship 3: Joint master degree in Mathematics and Applications
    Flagship 4: Extension of competences and knowledge-based education of natural hazards and environmental change

  • Round-table discussion with representatives of the European Commission, Rectors and students, moderated by Tomáš Zima, Rector of Charles University

    • Vanessa Debiais-Sainton, Head of the Unit Higher Education, DG EAC
    • Apostolia Karamali, Head of Unit Academic R&I and Research Organisations, DG RTD
    • Bernhard Eitel, Rector of Heidelberg University
    • Henrik C. Wegener, Rector of the University of Copenhagen
    • Student representatives: Mike Gudbergsen (UCPH), Julia Kostro (UW), Bérangère Poncet (SU)

Original links: YouTube | 4EU+

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UUU Panel 1 – Intermezzo with higher ed news

Berlin, 3 November 2020. This intermission is part of the first UUU online debate, organised by ESNA Higher Education News, as part of the Berlin Science Week 2020. The lead question is: “United Universities of Europe? How European University Alliances transform higher ed”

See the first half of the UUU panel debate here, the second half here. During this intermission, UUU Director Tino Brömme addresses the following important European higher education news:

EU top court finds Hungary education law in violation of EU rules
curia.europa.eu/…

EU budget 2021 Rapporteur on hunger strike for climate, health and jobs and for the introduction of a financial transaction tax
multimedia.europarl.europa.eu/…

How scientists are preparing for the split
media.nature.com/…

Paris student rent more costly than London – report
thepienews.com/news/…