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YUFE: a new European university 

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We’re part of the Young University for the Future of Europe alliance.

Essex is one of ten young universities helping to create one of the first true European Universities through the Young University for the Future of Europe (YUFE) alliance. We’re working with these partners from higher education, and the non-governmental and private sector to shape the future of European higher education by establishing a European University that's open to all. 

How it works 

If you're a bachelor student in your second year or above, you'll have the opportunity to study for a European diploma, by compiling your own curriculum from all courses offered across the eight YUFE universities. In addition, the YUFE Virtual Campus will host all members’ online course offers.

A YUFE student card will offer you access to facilities everywhere, and you will have opportunities to volunteer or follow internships. Your diploma will also list your achievements relating to language learning, professional training, job shadowing, community volunteering and all the other opportunities YUFE offers.

 

Why YUFE is important to Essex 

At Essex we have one of the most international academic communities in the world. We believe it is more important than ever to forge international partnerships with universities which share our mission and values. YUFE will play an important role in transforming the higher education sector in Europe by driving forward innovation, staff and student mobility, and enriching the economic, social and cultural life of our region.

For our part in helping to establish one of the first truly European universities, we will offer incoming and outgoing students and staff so much more than conventional exchange placements; they will be fully integrated into our institution, and can make use of all the services and take advantage of the strong connections between YUFE institutions.

Within YUFE's operational work areas we are pleased to be leading on Diversity and Inclusivity activity and co-leading on Staff Journey activity. We are also actively involved in other operational areas, including Quality Assurance, the Student Journey, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Cities, Communications and Sustainability. 

Who belongs to the YUFE alliance 

YUFE alliance universities  

  1. Maastricht University, the Netherlands
  2. Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun, Poland
  3. Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain
  4. University of Antwerp, Belgium
  5. University of Bremen, Germany
  6. University of Cyprus, Cyprus
  7. University of Eastern Finland, Finland
  8. University of Essex, United Kingdom
  9. University of Rijeka, Croatia
  10. Tor Vergata University of Rome, Italy

YUFE associate partners 

  • Adecco Group
  • European Entrepreneurs CEA-PME
  • ETS Global
  • Kiron
  • Uniri
"If you're not sure you’re going to have time, or you can’t see how it’s going to benefit you, I’d say look into it because it's a good way to complement your studies. And a good way to push your learning into areas that you might not otherwise explore. It's a good opportunity, and it's all free!"
Beatrice Carniato second year Politics, Philosophy and Economics student, Universityof Essex 

My YUFE student experience 

Phoenix Chilvers 

Phoenix Chilvers is a second year student, studying International Politics, Philosophy and Economics at the University of Essex, as well as being the present Students’ Unions’ LGBTQ+ officer, and student representative for Essex for the YUFE alliance.

Tell us about your involvement with the Young Universities for the Future of Europe (YUFE) alliance

I’m one of three YUFE student representatives from the University of Essex, and I’m involved in the Student Journey work package. This involves putting across students’ views and feedback, to give the group student insight, for example, if a new course or initiative is introduced. I was supposed to be on a placement in Nepal this summer, but obviously it was cancelled, so I wanted to use that time to keep busy and stay sane, so I also applied to take up the YUFE Introduction Offer. This involves taking up to three courses from October 2020 to January 2021 at a YUFE alliance university, including a language option, that you study alongside your main degree course at Essex.

 

Which YUFE Introduction Offer courses have you chosen, and why?

For my language option I’m studying German at the University of Bremen. I’m also studying International Humanitarian Law at the University of Nicholas Copernicus in Poland, and an Introduction to Gender Studies at the University of Madrid. It’s an interesting mixture, and it’s good to have the opportunity to do extra studies, and learn a new language as a beginner as I like to do a lot of different things at once.

 

What’s it like being in the very first cohort of 100 other students from across the YUFE?

Being able to study and have classes online does actually make it kind of easier, it's more direct and there’s less running around for me in my other roles on campus, so I can sit on my desk and focus and get more work done! We’ve had some YUFE welcome and introduction talks, they were really good; we had the chance to go into little breakout rooms on Zoom with others on our course, and we’ve all become friends, which is really cool. Just to be part of that bigger European community feels really good; talking to people and making friends, even if we're online, in different countries.

 

How is YUFE offering you new or different opportunities?

I started a degree course at another university a few years ago but wasn’t enjoying it – then came to Essex and it felt like home. I always like to learn and do new things, and any sort of connection to Europe, the better. Being able to study politics at Essex, at a time when there’s so much change in the world is amazing, and being able to explore more issues and subjects from a different angle that are law-related through my YUFE introduction is going to be really useful for me in future. Essex feels to me like a very European university. In my first year I lived with one other British student, and everyone else was from Latvia, Czech Republic, Luxembourg, and American. I love that we had more people from Europe than England! So it's cool just to have that sort of international feel about things, and I also see taking part in YUFE as a way of strengthening our links in the UK with Europe.

Find out more about YUFE and how Essex is involved as one of the alliance’s universities. If you’d like to find out more, please contact Dr Nadine Rossol, Deputy Dean of Partnerships (Europe).

Beatrice Carniato

Beatrice Carniato is a second year Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) student, at the University of Essex. She is also currently taking two modules from two different YUFE alliance universities as part of the YUFE Introduction Offer.

 

What are the modules you’re currently studying alongside your Essex degree?

The first is called Debating Development, which I’m taking at the University of Antwerp in Belgium. I didn't understand what it was about until I started it; it’s a debate series, open to not just students but also public citizens, and each year it takes a different theme to debate. This year it is all about decolonization, and different subjects within that, such as decolonizing ecological relations, decolonizing the curriculum, and decolonizing state intervention. It’s really interesting. The second is a module in International Humanitarian Law, which I’m taking at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun, Poland and sounded really interesting to complement my PPE degree subjects.  

 

How did you hear about the opportunity to study with YUFE?

My degree at Essex means I get emails from three departments, and I hear a lot about what’s going on! So, when the Department of Economics emailed me about the Introduction Offer, I looked online to find out what YUFE was all about, and how I might get involved. It sounded to me a really interesting initiative. Once the application window was open, I applied straightaway!

 

How do you think these extra modules will benefit your other studies?

The International Humanitarian Law module, while it's not necessarily linked to my studies, was something that I was really interested in. And I've always wanted to study more Law-related topics. Colonialism and decolonizing is a topic I'm really passionate about, and it's actually really having a positive impact on my studies, because this year I'm taking ‘Capitalism and its Critics’ for Philosophy and ‘Principles of Social Justice’ for Government. It goes together really well with these subject areas.  

 

How has it been doing this via Zoom?

I think it's really cool. I'm already benefiting from studying abroad, because I'm Italian, and I also studied for two years in the United States during high school. So I've always been happy to meet people with different ideas, with different mindsets, and with different values. I think that the more we know people who are different from us, the more accepting and tolerant we become. Having classes with people from Poland, for example, having never met anyone from Poland before, it's just really interesting to see how they talk about humanitarian law related to their own country from a perspective I wouldn’t have otherwise heard. Because the debate series is open to everyone, I also get the chance to talk with people from countries like India and South Africa too, some of whom are studying for Master’s degrees, and some work for NGOs. So it’s been interesting and helpful to meet people you’d never be in touch with otherwise.

 

How do you balance your time with extra studies?

I like to have a lot of things going on at the same time, but I try to maintain a good work balance. This term I have five modules, next term, I have four. The Debating Development module takes place in the evening, so it doesn’t take up too much time during the day. The International Humanitarian Law module involves just one class per week, so it’s not a huge commitment either.

 

Have you any other YUFE study plans on the horizon?

I have just been accepted onto the YUFE Diploma Supplement Track! This is great news. I have also this term attended two lectures as part of the YUFE Academy. It would be really nice to think that perhaps in the not too distant future, I could actually go and visit Nicholas Copernicus and Antwerp Universities.

 

What would you say to anyone who might be thinking of exploring opportunities with YUFE?

If you’re thinking you’re not sure you’re going to have time, or you can’t see how it’s going to benefit you, I’d say look into it because it's a good way to complement your studies. And a good way to push your learning into areas that you might not otherwise explore. It's a good opportunity, and it's all free!

Klaudyna Grzelakowska

Medical student Klaudyna Grzelakowska is one of the many students who have taken the opportunity of studying at another university thanks to the Young Universities for the Future of Europe (YUFE) alliance. Read the full story.

The YUFE student journey is underway 

We had a keen interest from Essex students in joining the YUFE Introduction Offer, which started in October 2020, and all 100 students completed the offer in December 2020. The YUFE Diploma Supplement Track applications are now closed, and some 100 students will have the opportunity to study for the diploma, 10 of which will be Essex students. 

This diploma track will be underway from January 2021 onwards, and students attending will take academic courses at the nine other YUFE universities, participate in the YUFE Academy and induction courses, and take up at least one YUFE activity such as language training or community engagement. Students completing the diploma will improve not only their academic performance, but also the diploma recognises efforts in mobility, language learning, professional training, job shadowing and community volunteering. Further updates are published on the YUFE website. 

Open and inclusive admissions

YUFE is dedicated to being open and inclusive – that means access regardless of prospective students’ socioeconomic or cultural background. We are currently developing the admissions criteria for the YUFE Diploma Supplement Track. 

How Essex staff can get involved with YUFE

If you are a member of University of Essex staff and want to find out how you can support YUFE and get involved with events and development initiatives for staff, including early career researchers, please contact Dr Nadine Rossol, Deputy Dean of Partnerships (Europe).

YUFE white logo
YUFE will play an important role in transforming the higher education sector in Europe by driving forward innovation, staff and student mobility, and enriching the economic, social and cultural life of our region.

How YUFE is responding to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the lives of people all over the world. It is changing the way we work, the way we learn, and the way we live. Naturally, the pandemic also has had an impact on the YUFE alliance.

Developing our virtual platform

Our aims remain the same we’re working towards building a young, student-centred, non-elitist, open and inclusive European University. One of its key components will be the physical, blended and virtual mobility of students and staff. 

With restrictions on movement and gatherings enforced all over Europe, it becomes increasingly important to emphasise the importance of online education opportunities. 

In response, the YUFE alliance has decided to put increased emphasis on its virtual campus rather than mainly focusing on the time after COVID-19 – when physical mobility will be possible again. This online platform will virtually connect citizens, students and staff all over Europe. 

Our hope is to reap the benefits of our virtual platform and further strengthen the online resources that all academic institutions in YUFE have already put in pace since they have had to move their classes online swiftly. Through these combined efforts, YUFE is determined to reach its goal of having the first YUFE students starting in the academic year 2020-2021.

How we’re moving forward on YUFE

We’re always guided by the needs and interests of students and staff. We’re consulting with our YUFE partners, students, governments and other European University alliances, to try to develop accessible solutions and answers to the many questions people are asking about our project. There are no 'manuals' or 'guidelines' that we can fall back on in this exceptional situation. 

It is challenging working together across borders without being able to meet face-to-face for such an extended period of time.

However, the commitment of everyone working on YUFE is shining through, with an abundance of virtual meetings, which allows us to move forward in a coordinated way. This, with the unique sense of community students and staff generate is allowing us to build activities and solutions over the upcoming months.

The YUFE vision

Studying throughout Europe

The YUFE European University will enable prospective students to choose from programmes offered at each of the eight YUFE universities. To allow access to all systems and facilities of these universities, the alliance will introduce a YUFE student card, valid at all participating universities. The official language of YUFE study programmes is English, but students who spend a period at a university in another country are encouraged and supported to learn the language of their host country. When they have successfully completed their studies, students receive a European diploma that will be valid anywhere in Europe. The diploma will not only acknowledge students’ academic performance, but also acknowledge their effort in mobility, language learning, professional training, job shadowing and community volunteering.

Feeling at home in the YUFE cities

To guarantee accessibility for as many students as possible, YUFE is preparing to set up a virtual European campus. Part-time students or interested citizens who want to follow a single virtual or physical course can also make use of the YUFE offer. Students will be given the opportunity to contribute to the community in their neighbourhood, and to foster a culture of mutual support in all YUFE cities and communities. YUFE students will be immediately immersed in the local and regional society and will thus be the catalyst for further European integration.

Regional focus and impact

The YUFE programme itself pays a lot of attention to the specific regions in which the eight YUFE universities are located. When it comes to internships, for example, every university will work together with local authorities, the business community and other organisations. These collaborations are based on challenges that are of great importance to the YUFE regions. In Limburg, for example, the region of the coordinating institution Maastricht University, the Brightlands ecosystem will be an excellent setting to implement the joint YUFE approach. In Cyprus, students will contribute to the development of more efficient public transport in the capital Nicosia. In Essex (UK), YUFE projects will contribute to solving socio-economic disadvantage the eastern region.