EUA has published the position “The future of the European Universities Initiative – the sector’s perspective” together with the results of the recent EUA survey on international strategic institutional partnerships and the European Universities Initiative.
Endorsed by the EUA Council, the position supports the initiative and calls for it to remain open and flexible, so that it allows universities to grow and deepen their cooperation according to their strategy and priorities. The Initiative should also be used as an additional way to address obstacles to transnational collaboration and work towards greater compatibility of systems across Europe building on and embedded in the work in the framework of the Bologna Process and the European Research Area.
European collaboration and solidarity, including in research, innovation and education are of ever greater importance in the current coronavirus crisis. Strengthening Europe’s innovation capacity, to which universities contribute greatly, will be crucial for recovery and for building a sustainable future. Deepening transnational university collaboration, including through alliances such as those developed under the European Universities Initiative, can play an important role in this and has great potential to strengthen European higher education and research and its international competitiveness.
In the position, EUA calls on the European Commission, the EU Member States in Council and the European Parliament to consider the following seven points for the future development of the initiative:
- The European Universities Initiative must be seen as an additional way to explore strategic cooperation, identify challenges and propose solutions.
- The alliances must have leeway to be innovative and creative.
- The diverse ways of collaborating must be preserved.
- The initiative must encompass all university missions in a bottom-up approach.
- Fostering cohesion within Europe and contributing to competitiveness must be key objectives.
- Participation should be further opened to promote international competitiveness.
- Long-term sustainability requires continued political and financial support.
The position is founded on consultations with national rectors’ conferences and evidence from the sector included in the EUA report “International strategic institutional partnerships and the European Universities Initiative: results of the EUA survey”, which has also just been published. It was conducted with universities in early 2020 to map the state of play of their international engagement, explore in particular the topic of international strategic institutional partnerships and collect views about the European Universities Initiative. EUA received 219 valid responses from higher education institutions in 34 systems across Europe. The results confirm that international collaboration has been a strategic issue for universities for a long time and developing long-term strategic institutional partnerships with a selected number of partners abroad is high on the list of internationalisation priorities.
The European Universities Initiative, which aims at supporting the creation of such deep university alliances, has thus triggered high interest among responding institutions. While the results highlight the benefits that respondents are expecting from participating in the European Universities Initiative, they also reveal challenges and reasons why some institutions decide not to participate and give recommendations for the future.
The survey results and the EUA Council position outline the sector’s views and demands for the future development of the initiative. They come at a crucial moment when decisions are being taken on future EU funding programmes, amid the current coronavirus crisis.