Tue 22 May 18
The University of Essex and six other young European universities have agreed on a proposal to form an alliance as part of the European University initiative, first outlined by French President Emmanuel Macron in 2017.
The European Commission (EC) has thrown its weight behind the initiative and is pushing for the creation of up to 20 European university networks by 2024. These bottom-up alliances of universities are to collaborate in research, education and innovation and set new standards in the free movement of ideas. They are part of efforts to achieve further integration of the European higher education area (EHEA). The first pilot will start in the second half of 2019.
Apart from Essex, the Young Universities for the Future of Europe (YUFE) alliance consists of six young top-level universities from the YERUN network (Young European Research Universities Network): Maastricht University, the University of Antwerp, the University of Bremen, the University of Rome Tor Vergata, the University of Eastern Finland and the University Carlos III of Madrid.
Essex Vice-Chancellor Professor Anthony Forster said: "This is an exciting opportunity to put European Universities on the map globally for the benefit of students, society and the economy and I am delighted that we have been invited to participate."
What has brought the seven young universities together is the shared aim to contribute to a more competitive, innovative and united Europe. The universities, which already have several joint activities within the YERUN framework, emphasise the need to increase employability and embedded mobility schemes for students and staff, foster inclusive higher education and invest in the active learning of European languages.
In doing so, YUFE will promote active European citizenship within a shared European environment. This will be pursued in a truly bottom-up process. In the YUFE alliance, teams of staff and students will collaborate on how to address European (and global) challenges. They will work on how to promote joint educational programs and services and develop mechanisms to facilitate the mobility of students and staff to create a joint higher education landscape without borders. As the participating universities already have a tradition of working together, the current alliance is seen as a logical step to further interaction and collaboration.
Attending the presentation of the alliance at the UM Campus Brussels on 17 May were representatives of the partner universities, the permanent representations and ministries of the respective countries, and the European Commission. Also present were the students of the partner universities who had played an active role in formulating the vision of the alliance. These students will continue to be closely involved in the development and implementation of the initiative.