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Event Video

UUU Panel 2.2 – New professions and EU strategies

Berlin, Brussels, Bremen, 8 December 2020. The initiative United Universities of Europe organises panel debates on higher education and science policy. The 2nd of these debates examines “Vocations and Competencies in the Age of European Universities.”
In a first step, professionals, policy officers, coordinators of the newly formed European University Alliances (watch this conversation with them here) talk about their international, challenge-based, change-oriented work. A short intermission informs how UUU is poised to mirror and shadow the growth of these new structures, the European University Alliances (see here).
In part two, Peter van der Hijden, connoisseur of European science policy, points at the new professions being created in and around the Alliances and the re-skilling taking place in the universities, in their libraries, data management, admissions etc.. Eva-Maria Feichtner, Vice President for internationalisation at the University of Bremen, sees great chances in the university networks for academics and employers alike – creating a competitive international scientific education, as well as attractive career paths and staff journeys across the alliances. Her counterpart, Jörg Niehoff, policy officer at the European Commission, provides political context about role of higher education institutions in providing skills for the green and digital transformation, the EU transformation agenda for HEI, the experience from the Labour Market Relevance and Outcome partnerships and how all this translates into the context of the European University Alliances.

Guests:

Host:

  • Tino Brömme, ESNA European Higher Education News

TRANSCRIPT

     This is the second part of the United Universities of Europe panel discussion from Berlin. After the first half, we are now talking with Peter von der Hijden, our man in Brussels. Hello, Peter. We have been starting a conversation about the professions in the European University Alliance. When we noticed that they are structured like research projects in work packages with certain topical fields which reflect the tasks and the working fields and the professions in this alliances. Do you think that this University Alliances are creating a new group of staff, a new profession?

Peter van der Hijden Yes, I think so. Listening to the colleagues, the biggest change is the scope and extent, as Katrine said, and the speech. Now, what does it mean for the jobs? It is creating new jobs like directors, coordinators; the job of Tino, our kind host today, is a new job, you could say. But more exciting and more deeper for me is the transfer of the old jobs. And those old jobs are the people that I call the ‚gang of five hundred.‘ And those are the five hundred Alliance task managers, and they do the real work of the Alliance. And those people have the job, they have a regular job in administration, education, research and innovation. They are, for example, programme directors, locally, they are responsible for the virtual campus, locally, they are responsible for H.R., for the library, they are researchers and teachers. But now all over sudden, they find themselves to collaborate in the Alliance task teams, and they are now building the course catalogue for the Alliance, what they used to do on their own. They are building the virtual campus for the Alliance, what they used to do on their own. They are working in H.R. on a tenure for the whole alliance. So you can move jobs between the institutions. They are working on open sience for their institution, but now in the task team for the entire Alliance. And this is a change for those professionals. It’s a kind of upgrading. It helps them to benchmarking to become better professionals. It also helps to integrate the members of the Alliance, to a certain extent, it’s a partial merger. But if you focus on the professional aspect, this is motivational, this motivates these people. They suddenly, and that’s the perspective that I want to give, when you work in an Alliance task team, for the library, for the H.R., for the student admission, you have a career perspective, locally, of course, but also in the Alliance. You may, at some point, shorter or longer term, go work in another institution as part of the Alliance. When the kids leave the house, you can go for one year to Finland or to Rome because you have a career in the Alliance, even hopping to other alliances, as we were just encouraged to do by the colleagues putting forward their vacancies. So for me, that is something motivating, and it changes the nature of your work. It makes you start dreaming, even if you never leave the place where you work. In YUFE, they call this the ’staff journey.‘ And I think it’s a good idea, Tino, that you put the ‚gang of 500‘ in the limelight, next to our dear coordinators and Presidents, of course.

     Thank you, Peter, for this brief intervention.

And we come directly to Eva-Maria Feichtner, the vice president for international relations at the University of Bremen. Hello! I know you have to go at one o’clock, so we have to be quick with you. The interesting thing is, on one side, we have seen how the coordinators and the work package leaders and the project officers for the alliance are working. Now, we see your perspective as a Vice-President, responsible for the staff and for the management of the University Alliance. This keyword ’staff journey,‘ how does it relate to the jobs that these people have?

Eva-Maria Feichtner Well, let’s start from the idea of a ’student journey,‘ because I guess that’s more familiar to all of us. So we want students to move all over Europe, all over our different campi. And now our idea at YUFE was, it’s not only your studies, life is a journey, professional life is a journey. We’re convinced that if we want students to move around, the institutions can’t be solid. The people working at the institutions can’t be purely home based, they must have this experience themselves. So that’s what brought us to concentrating on this tough journey. So we are enabling our employees, enabling everybody working in the university environment, to go out, experience the building up of the European University, experience how their profession is carried out somewhere else, go and connect, go and meet with others and learn and develop.

We are thinking of that as a very physical thing. Right? We want people to go out on job shadowing projects and things like that. But we all know the pandemic has cut that short, pretty much brought it down to zero. And what we did, and I think that was pretty successful, is to quickly come up with training programmes, virtual training programmes that brought together people who otherwise wouldn’t have met in the same way. So as Peter pointed out, the librarian, the H.R. expert, they had the opportunity in a very low threshold way to meet, to connect. In a way, the pandemic has helped us to become more inclusive. I mean, just think for a moment, you just mentioned, well, the kids have left the house. They could go for a year somewhere. That’s the answer we get from many people whom we try to get moving here. They are saying, „no, I have three kids in school, what do you think? I’m not moving anywhere. And by the way, there’s a pile work“. And now I can go and tell them, „well, there’s a staff training tomorrow at two o’clock. It lasts for two hours. You can meet your colleagues in Finland, you can meet your colleagues in Spain. That’s your opportunity to experience Europe.“ And people do. And people come back to us and say, „you know, that was great. And, you know, I’ll seriously think about going out now and taking up this burden of organising everything around, because I want to experience the real thing.“ So we’re all waiting for the pandemic to be over to get back to a new normal that people can actually take up what they have started digitally now.

     We have time for one more question, Eva. We have been talking about ‚lifelong learning,‘ these are people who leave university to become professionals, but maybe come back. How can the Alliances contribute to this?

Eva-Maria Feichtner  By offering lifelong learning to people in a more close-to-their job way than universities were doing that way back. So our dream is that our graduates go out and don’t forget YUFE, but come and visit every now and then, for professional development courses, for maybe taking up the role of a professional expert, advising our students, working together in challenge teams, or the like. So I think of professional development in its true sense lives from changing perspectives, in the same way we want researchers to take every now and then the position of a professional service staff member and vice versa. And we want people to go out from and come back to our Alliance. That’s what I think is the the truly enriching things we can work on.

     This is the old communist idea to send the intellectuals to the camps.

Eva-Maria Feichtner Well, that’s a peculiar way to think about it, but maybe yes, let’s dare to say yes.

     And why not? On the other side, the organisation bottom-up of the coordinators, who coordinate within the universities and between the members of the Alliance, is building up structure. It’s building up a creativity that hasn’t been there before. Well, Eva, I thank you so far.

     Let’s go over to Jörg Niehoff, who is a policy coordinator at the European Commission, and let’s apply a last different perspective on the question we have today. Because the European Commission is now taking the money and putting it into programmes to push forward certain developments. So Jörg, the Transformation Agenda, as it is called, of the European Commission, where is it going? What is the direction?

Jörg Niehoff  Yes, thank you to you and good morning to everyone. The Transformation Agenda is not yet there. So let me perhaps bring the context in here. Some of you might have seen that the Commission has published on the 30th September two communications that are relevant also for higher education institutions. Is the one on the European Education Area and the one on the European Research Area. And both put higher education institutions at the core of a transformation of the society. So what we want to do with the stakeholders, in particular the European universities and with the Member States, is to develop by the end of next year, a Transformation Agenda for higher education institutions. And that will not have the TGV speech that Nadine quoted before, perhaps rather long distance that a TGV can pass. And it is something that has to be co-created, co-designed with the stakeholders, with the policy makers at national level.

What we have identified in our communication, are four focus areas that we believe are important. The one is Connectivity among higher education institutions. That what we see also with European Universities, bring them in the context to work across borders on common challenges, but also connectivity with their local ecosystem, because that’s where you have societal impact, where you connect to the labour market, that is extremely important for us.

The second element is Inclusion. We want to have higher education institutions that are more open to a diverse student and research body. And, we had that before, also offer better opportunities for lifelong learning, which again makes it necessary to connect to the local ecosystem. Secondly, Digital and Green. I mean, if you look at all the big policies that we are currently driving, the green and digital transitions are at the core of these things. And I think Covid has made us much more aware of the need for digital transition. And there is also a dedicated communication on the Digital Education Action Plan. The green transition is equally important and there are again higher education institutions at the core of basically building the workforce and the skills and the competences that we need for the green transition. And that is something that I believe also European Universities can drive to a certain extent.

And the last one is Innovation in higher education, in education, in research, in driving transition. So what we expect to see by the end of next year, is somehow an alignment and agreement on what that Transformation Agenda should look like. What are the incentives that we need in terms of funding coming from different programmes, national, European, but also in terms of policy approaches that we need. And what we have learnt from other initiatives, like the HEInnovate initiative that supports the transformation of universities to become more entrepreneurial, more innovative, is that you need the bottom-up approach that we see here, but you also need some of the soft tools, self-reflection questionnaires that allow you to find a common direction where you want to go and the leadership that you need that drives that transition. So you need an understanding where to go, which is the direction, the leadership, and the commitment to drive that change. And today we look at European Universities, but I would really encourage all European universities to look at the other tools the DG EAC provides, be it labour market information experiences. I mean, a lot of the things that you are trying to drive, they also require that you have a better connectivity to the businesses to understand what are the requirements in terms of skills, transversal skills that you need for future jobs.

     HEInnovate instrument, how has it been adopted yet? How does it work?

Jörg Niehoff  It is something that has been going through a long, long way. It was designed together with the colleagues at the OECD at some point in time, and we have a number of building blocks. At the core, and that is accessible for all institutions, is the self reflection questionnaire that is also on the Internet that has been used by, I think, thirteen-hundred universities across Europe to drive their transition. I think more than twenty-thousand individuals have used that. So this is something that is not a benchmarking, but it is something that allows institutions with training programmes and etcetera to somehow position themselves: Where are we today in becoming or in being entrepreneureal innovative higher education institutions? And what are pathways for us to further improve on that? And of course, you can also use that in the context of European Universities. We have been contacted by some that want to use the tools as well.

The second is, that we are having, together with the OECD, country reviews, where countries approach us directly and say „listen, we want to have your support in analysing our system and showing pathways for development.“ We are doing this, for example, currently with Slovenia, and we see that Slovenia is not only using this element ofhow to become more innovative with the educational system. At the same time they look also in labour market relevance of universities. So they are using two of our policies support mechanisms to have assistance in designing their master plan for higher education for the next years. And there we are closing a loop because, of course, the countries use our tools to find a way where they want to develop, that wwould inform the consultations for the Transformation Agenda, and so we somehow create a common directionality of where we go with the European system to make it overall more competitive and more powerful in terms of addressing the challenge that we have.

    Jörg, thank you so much. This was a very, very fast summary of the European policy supporting and instructing the European Universities. 

We can summarise that we have seen on one hand how inside the European University Alliances, the jobs, the positions, the professions of coordinators, project officers and work package leaders are creating a new network of professionals. We have also seen together with Eva-Maria Feichtner that the University management is trying to create interesting, attractive career paths so that the people who are steering and creating these University Alliances are well prepared and are learning all along the way. And also, we have seen the European Commission is supporting these efforts, is also pushing into a direction for creating new professionals that come out of the universities. So to help the universities develop their educational programmes and their research into a more European and more connected Europe. I want to thank all the participants for being today with us. I can only remind again of Dante, who said that we are here to acquire virtue and new knowledge. And that is what the European University Alliances are doing.

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News Video

YUFE Townhall – Happy 1st Birthday!

MAASTRICHT, 7-9 December 2020. The YUFE Townhall was a 2.5-day umbrella event involving all of YUFE’s programmes and activities bringing together the entire YUFE community. Its focus was on European Higher Education and its links to wider society. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event took place virtually.
Three of the YUFE Townhall sessions were open to the public. The first open session, the “Opening Ceremony”, gave an overview of what has been achieved by YUFE in it’s first year. The second open session, “What can European Universities do for you?”, asked a variety of stakeholders, including the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, the DG of the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, and the CEO of a triple-helix campus, what European Universities can contribute to society, with a focus on regional employability following the quadruple helix model. The quadruple helix model brings together science, policy, industry, and society. The third open session was a working session organised and hosted by the YUFE Student Forum.

PROGRAMME

Day 1 – Monday, 7 December 2020
14:00 – 15:00
Opening Ceremony

Open session

  • Moderated by Jan Hupkens, Senior Policy Advisor Internationalisation, Maastricht University ›

Welcome Speech by Chair & Vice-Chair of YUFE Strategy Board

  • Professor Dr Martin Paul, President Maastricht University & Chair YUFE ›
  • Jessica Winter, Student University of Bremen & Vice-Chair YUFE ›

Presentation on YUFE and achievements to date

  • Dr Daniela Trani, Director, YUFE ›

Q&A with questions from virtual audience

15:00 – 18:00
YUFE Strategy Board Meeting
Closed session

Day 2 – Tuesday, 8 December 2020
11:00 – 12:30

„What can European Universities do for you?“ A discussion on the impact of EUIs on employability and regional socio-economic development

Open session

  • Moderated by Jan Hupkens, Senior Policy Advisor Internationalisation, Maastricht University ›
  • Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth ›
  • Atte Jääskeläinen, Director General of the Department for Higher Education and Science Policy, Ministry of Education and Culture, Finland ›
  • Dr Astrid Boeijen, CEO, Brightlands Smart Service Campus Heerlen ›

Panel discussion about the impact of EUIs on employability and regional socio-economic development, followed by Q&A with a virtual audience

  • Dr Astrid Boeijen, CEO, Brightlands Smart Service Campus Heerlen ›
  • Menno Bart, Public Affairs Manager, The Adecco Group ›
  • Dr Daniela Trani, Director, YUFE ›
    Nina Kolaković, Assistant Expert, Rector’s Office, University of Rijeka ›
  • Sonia Synak, Student, Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun ›

13:30 – 17:00

Work Package Open Hours: results, lessons and ideas from year 1

Closed sessions

18:00 –

Training and Working Sessions of the YUFE Student Forum

Open session

Day 3 – Wednesday, 9 December 2020
09:00 – 17:00

Work Package Open Hours: results, lessons and ideas from year 1

Closed sessions

More info here: yufe.eu/townhall-2020/

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UUU Panel 1.1 – YUFE & EC2U

Berlin, Brussels, Amsterdam, 3 November 2020. The first half of the 1st UUU panel debate — integral event of the Berlin Science Week 2020 — with Daniela Trani (YUFE), and Ludovic Thilly (EC2U). Host: Tino Brömme (ESNA)

See the second half of the panel here, and the intermission here

Good morning, Europe. Good morning, everybody. Welcome from Zagreb to Moscow, from Istanbul to Brest, welcome to the first public debate on European Universities. I’m very happy that we have this conversation here today at the Berlin Science Week, this is the first of a series that we want to repeat every month with new members of University Alliances.

Let’s start now with Daniela Trani. Welcome to our debate. You know, I’m mostly interested in examples, concrete examples. The YUFE Alliance is a very big alliance of ten universities who came together to work together. What can you do as an alliance that you cannot do alone as Maastricht University?

Daniela Trani Good morning to everyone who’s connected today, although we cannot see each other, hopefully in the next event organised by Tino, this would be possible. And thanks for inviting me to be part of the panel together with Ludovic and Peter. That’s a very interesting question, Tino. There is a lot that you can do as an alliance, which you would not do easily, as a single university. And I would give you an example that has to do with our educational activities. So, of course, the Erasmus programme has allowed our students already for the past phase to study across European countries. But what we are trying to build within YUFE and what we have launched is a pilot activity in July, is a framework where our students can choose their curriculum much more flexibly.
So we put together, for example, our educational offer, our educational expertise, give them the possibility to take these courses that will best contribute to shaping the curriculum that will allow them to achieve their professional and personal development goals. Our YUFE introduction offer that was launched at the end of July for a small group of students – because let’s not forget, we are in a pilot phase, so we are working with the relatively small numbers – we have had the first 200 students to take up two academic courses and one language course in the first semester. The courses offered by our Alliance are delivered by all the 10 universities that are part of our network. So I think this is unique and can be really a game changer in the future of higher education.

Well, this is an interesting point. You said the students are participating in creating the curriculum. Normally students, even when they leave the universities, they don’t know what they want to do. How can they create a curriculum or study plan for someone else? Is this a miracle?

Daniela Trani They are choosing for themselves, and of course, they do it also with supervision. But you actually touched upon a point that is still valid in our alliance because our students with their experience will contribute to co-create the programmes and education of the future. And in our next pilot activity, we will have the students enrolled, are actually sign up a appropriation agreements so that their contribution is not only real, but it’s also proven or they are all on track as well. So it’s not that they will be immediately deciding randomly which courses are added to the programmes, but they will have the possibility, because of their more flexible framework, to select what will be of added value for their training.

You have involved the students already in the YUFE application period (for the EU funding). So you have discussed with students about this. Do you have the impression that they had a good grasp of what are the necessary curricular topics of today? What was your impression?

Daniela Trani The students, indeed, participate already since the very beginning, since March or April 2018, as part of our core development group. And this group of students also grew over time, and currently we have a Student Forum of which I’m very proud of. That is composed of 30 students, three from each partner university. We have a good idea about what is needed for a resilient and relevant education. It can also very sharply make a connection with what is societally relevant and especially now at times of Covid, they bring in the perspective from the students who are brought in to a completely different context. They are not able to attend lessons always in the same way, and they provide each other with mutual support. But they can also advise on which tools would be relevant for the future, for our alliance, but also for individual universities.

You also have as a very core term of your project, a „virtual campus“. Now, I was wondering, I mean, MOOCs and remote learning are anything but new. You have Coursera, EdX, iversity, I think it’s German, and there are many non-commercial platforms, too, and companies use training online since ever. I mean, where’s the new element here or is it a political thing to make universities create independent non-commercial online structures? What’s the new element in this virtual campus?

Daniela Trani What we want to achieve with the virtual campus is to provide a single door to enter our university community, not only for the students, but also for citizens and for other stakeholders. For the students, we want to allow them to apply and enroll for courses that are delivered by different universities via this virtual campus. You would not need to go to the website of one university or the other, but they will have this, I would say, virtual education highway. And they will also have access for the non-academic activities that the alliance is building together with the non-academic partners, with the cities, the regions, the citizens. So it’s much more than just the website.

You mentioned, when we talked before, the YUFE Academy. This project has already started with some offers of lectures. How does that work? Can I make a degree there?

Daniela Trani The Academy is launching tomorrow with the first lecture. The topic that is addressed in this first academy is „European identity and responsibilities in a global world“. There are 20 lectures over five weeks until the 3rd of December, and it’s open to all students, citizens, staff. At the moment, it’s not that you will get a degree, it’s an activity that you will undertake voluntarily. But, of course, in the future there will also be something that can be connected to a citizen’s curriculum, for example.

When you have these different lectures – do they all speak in English? Do they speak in different languages? Are there language problems? I mean, this is an interesting fact in this concept of the University Alliance. How is the language question here?

Daniela Trani So the Academy in its first edition is in English. This is a very important point because, as I said, that we are targeting not only students whose English level is already at the certain level, but we are also targeting citizens that might not speak the language the academy will require. So in the future, of course, ideally we would like to have also multi-lingualism delivered. You could think of having subtitles, translations and we will be exploring some of these venues. But as I said before, we have to start from something. We launched this academy in English or this first version of the pilot. The next step, we have to be for sure to also investigate and test how we can effectively communicate in other languages.

This is a point I’m very interested in because I also studied languages. Well, I’d like to ask Ludovic something because his Alliance EC2U is also very interesting. Bonjour, comment ca va?

Ludovic Thilly Everything is very well, except that we are now under lockdown in France, but that’s a different story.

You cannot imagine how much my visit in Poitiers last February encouraged me to continue this exploration of the European University Alliances! I want to thank you for that again. The first point is your concept of your University Alliance, which entered the group of university alliances just this year – your name is Campus of City Universities. So there is a focus of the city and the university. I would first ask, what does this mean?

Ludovic Thilly Actually this whole story about the strong cooperation between the cities and universities is something that started a long time ago. It started actually under a different framework, to be more precise, it started under the Coimbra Group, which is a network of long standing comprehensive universities in Europe that I’m also chairing. But that’s, again, a different story. But this was based on a very long standing cooperation that some universities do have with their cities, in particular when they were created several centuries ago. With time, they really developed the sort of symbiotic relationship with their cities. And this is in particular the case in Poitiers. And this is how we arrived to this concept where we really create a framework, where there is a real policy discussion between the university and the city on all the fields where universities are playing.

So basically now we would call that the “knowledge square”. It was not called like that a few years ago, but this is clearly everything related to education, research, innovation and service to society, service to society being understood also in terms of bringing culture, bringing critical thinking to the citizens and so on. So this whole concept of very strong cooperation with the city was at the core of our alliance and all the seven universities that are in the alliance to have the same strong commitment to be in continuous contact with the citizens that are living very close to the campuses. But who are also actually participating in the many activities of the universities. So this is why this is basically the easy to use DNA.

I could imagine that you’re in close cooperation with the city, you can do it as Poitiers alone. I wonder what is the international cooperation adding here?

Ludovic Thilly Actually, you’re right in the sense that all our seven universities, they have already built some specific relationship, not always the same. By the way, sometimes there is a focus on something which is a bit more a sort of local specificity, if I may call it like that. But the other what we want to bring is all these strengths to really create – this is actually something that we are currently working on, on the another proposal that we are developing for the Horizon 2020 project. This idea of really building a sort of pan-European knowledge ecosystem where basically we would create a network of all these local ecosystems, which all together can really not only provide, let’s say, opportunities to the citizens to also learn what is going on at the different universities, but also all the other actors, typically the industries, the businesses, the SMEs can also work at the level of that network. So it’s really bringing new opportunities for all actors.

Ludovic, and this last thing with the different actors who cooperate with the university. Now that the EC2U alliance has been formed, can you give us an example?

Ludovic Thilly So actually, there are many, many things which were already started without waiting to be selected. But of course, everything will be much faster now that we are officially under the label of this initiative by the European Commission. What we are currently starting is really create also tools. And that’s an example of the things that we can not really do without the expertise of other partners. We are really building at the level of a lot of the alliance, some some joint tools, and one of them is called the EC2U Connect Centre, which will actually be the sort of series of platforms which will be not only useful to the internal life of the alliance – I’m talking here about managing the mobility of all these people, the students, the students, teachers, researchers, etc. but also making platforms where we can continuously be in contact with these other actors. So that would really boost the capacity to cooperate by having joint shared tools.
That’s a typical example. Another one would be that we are going to create a so-called Entrepreneurial Academy, which also will promote entrepreneurship amongst the students, but also amongst the other actors within the university, where there is not so much of this tradition about entrepreneurship, the researchers, sometimes the teachers as well. And we are really building on all the strengths of the seven partners here.

We have now over 100 participants on YouTube. I wanted to thank you all to be with us. … While I was listening, I was thinking about my friend, a researcher like you, who has always worries about intellectual property and these things. And there are different laws regarding higher education, as we have seen in Hungary. And there are also special safety mechanisms for researchers now with the cooperation across countries. If the countries get closer in their regulations about intellectual property, is this a good thing? Is this a progress? Where are the difficulties here and what this university alliances is, what they are doing in this field?

Ludovic Thilly I think that here we are really exactly touching upon what is the global objective of this initiative. It started by boosting more the education part of it, because it has been funded by the Erasmus programme, and basically what we are going to develop in all the 41 alliances is really a mapping of all the obstacles that we are currently facing. But there are also opportunities that we can really grasp: on building new ways of teaching amongst the different partners, how to create the so-called European degree, etc. So this requires, actually, to identify all the obstacles which are sometimes due to the differences in regulations within the old European countries. And the same goes with the research and innovation where – although (the exchange of) research and innovation is something already more developed on the level of the whole European Union, there are still some national limitations in sharing intellectual properties, etc. So this is typically where we want to go all together to identify within all the different activities, because when you look at the end with the 41 alliances, there will be hundreds of initiatives, which will not be all the same. So with this, we will have a full mapping of all the opportunities and obstacles that we need to solve. So I think this is exactly what the whole initiative is aiming at.

I would like also to ask Daniela on this point, you are also easy to you develop online platforms for teaching, for instance. But like a more political question, are these virtual infrastructures that the Universities Alliances are building genuinely European solution? Or is this something where public institutions build infrastructures which are independent from commercial infrastructures like Zoom and Google and so on? Is this part of the plan or is this just my interpretation?

Daniela Trani Of course, we want to build the tools in this case, which you are mentioning these technology tool for education, but also for society and engagement that should be as open as possible. So what you witnessed is that for many activities currently the tools available are paid tools. But I strongly believe that we have to be able to the expertise and continue to cooperate so that online learning and online knowledge availability is inclusive, open and can really be put to the service over as many learners and citizens as possible. Of course, there are a number of issues that need to be taken into account. So it’s not trivial to build a virtual platform or virutal campus.

There are security issues, there are GPDR issues. So it’s a complex, a very complex topic. And like Ludovic was saying, working with such a big partnership allows us to have access to a multitude of expertise, of human resources, not only financial resources. We can discuss that later, because obviously what we are starting to be able with our 42 alliances is something extremely complex that will also financially require a certain degree of stability for the pilot phase and beyond. That is very key for the success of the initiative. And when you start talking about I.T. and online technology, that’s also something that has a major cost that are not always affordable for a single institution. So it gain another opportunity for major problems within an alliance.
Their approach is a wonderful example of how universities can be, in Europe, more than anywhere else in the world, in the future, the engine of a society that is based on knowledge, on innovation and that can be more cohesive. (These universities) can form citizens, like Ludovic was saying, who can be critical – since we see also the spreading of fake news nowadays. And we believe that it is our responsability as universities to contribute to a citizenship where individuals are able to distinguish truth fom false information.

I like this answer. In fact, it’s a good, good point to come to the end of the first half of our encounter here.