Boosting cooperation among European higher education providers: new funding

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Recent Commission’s Erasmus+ call for the European Universities in 2024 provides additional support to alliances of higher education institutions. According to this call, 14 new alliances of higher education in Europe uniting 50 previously selected alliances will receive up to €14.4 million each over a period of four years. The 2024 Erasmus+ call was structured around two strands: a) offering support to new European Universities’ alliances and gathering diverse education institutions around common strategic vision; and b) creation of “community of practice” among alliances.  

Background
The Commission proposed the “European Universities” initiative to EU leaders in November 2017, as part of an overall vision for the creation of a European Education Area by 2025. At the same time, the European strategy for universities, presented in 2022, sets out the ambition goal to support at least 60 European Universities alliances involving more than 500 higher education institutions by mid-2024.
To achieve this goal, a record €1.1 billion under Erasmus+ is foreseen during the current programming period 2021-2027. Support for the research dimension of European Universities’ alliances can be sought under the European Excellence initiative under Horizon Europe.

The European Universities initiative supports transnational alliances of education providers, e.g. generally, there are nine higher education institutions that include different types of education facilities, such as comprehensive and research high schools, universities of applied sciences, institutes of technology, schools of arts, as well as higher vocational education and training institutions. These higher education institutions develop a long-term structural, sustainable and systemic cooperation among European states on education, in synergy with research and innovation while contributing to solving existing societal problems and challenges. For example, they offer jointly delivered curricula across inter-university campuses, on which students, staff and researchers from all parts of Europe can enjoy active education and training cooperative mobility.

   More on European Alliances in: https://www.integrin.dk/2020/12/16/european-education-policy-perspectives-transformation-in-progress/; on European University’s concept in: https://www.integrin.dk/2021/10/21/modern-education-a-path-through-challenges-and-transition/; as well as in other articles in the EII’s section on education and training.

European strategy for universities’ alliances
The European Universities alliances bring together a new generation of Europeans and allow them to study and work in different European countries, in different languages and across various sectors and academic disciplines. Students can obtain a high-level degree by combining studies in several European countries, contributing to the international attractiveness and competitiveness of European-wide higher education. These alliances also bring innovation to Europe’s regions by allowing students to work together with academics, researchers, enterprises, cities, government authorities and civil society organisations.
Existing 64 alliances “unite” 35 countries: besides all EU member states, there are such countries as Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Montenegro, the Republic of North-Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, and Turkey. These alliances are solidly anchored in communities and innovation networks, bringing together almost 2200 associated partners ranging from non-governmental organisations to enterprises, cities, local and regional authorities, as well as higher education institutions from the Bologna Process countries: for example, almost 40 higher education institutions from Ukraine are associated partners.
Source: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_24_3542

The 2024 Erasmus+ call for proposals also supports the set-up of a “community of practice” for European Universities, reinforcing peer learning between the alliances and boosting dissemination of reusable results and models within the wider higher education sector. The 14 new alliances of European Universities and the Community of Practice for European Universities will start their activities in autumn this year.

The Commission will continue supporting the European Universities alliances and any other type of partnership among higher education institutions to deliver joint degree programs more easily, as also outlined in the blueprint for a European degree presented in March 2024.
Reference to Commission web link on European degree in: https://education.ec.europa.eu/news/commission-presents-a-blueprint-for-a-european-degree

Commission’s opinion
= “We have achieved one of the key objectives of the European strategy for universities: we now support 64 European Universities alliances fostering deeper higher cooperation between more than 560 higher education institutions across Europe. Together they build European inter-university campuses, where students get unprecedented opportunities to study across borders, benefitting from the best that universities have to offer together. They can enroll in joint study programs and hopefully be awarded with European degrees in the near future. Together, the alliances help crafting a strong sense of European belonging”.
Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President for Promoting European Way of Life
= “Our commitment for the European Universities alliances stands strong. As Enrico Letta said in his report on the future of the single market, these alliances are central to what could become the fifth freedom of our Single Market: the freedom to learn, study, teach and do research without boundaries across the continent. I warmly congratulate all successful higher education institutions. The 64 alliances are now building the future of Europe’s higher education sector.
Iliana Ivanova, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth
Citations from: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_24_3542

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