United for Innovation: highlights from the II European University Alliance Forum
Taking place in Barcelona on September 14-15, the II European University Alliance Forum brought together ministry, alliance and industry representatives. The event featured 2 plenary and 9 thematic sessions, allowing adequate space for discussions that will shape the future of University Alliances and their role in the broader context of the EU.
While the individual sessions and discussions spanned a wide spectrum of topics, a set of overarching themes reverberated throughout, revealing a common intention to:
- Integrate European University Alliances into the social and political landscape of the EU;
- Explore and utilize the transformative potential of European Universities in the European Education Area;
- Establish European University Alliances as a reference point and support system for opening up new opportunities for institutions and individuals in third countries.
Successive to the First Forum held during the French Presidency, the Second Forum contributed to the bigger vision of structuring an inclusive, digital and competitive educational framework – an objective brought forward by the Spanish Presidency.
“The forum gave us all a unique opportunity to see – and reimagine – the big picture. Together, we discussed the evolution of higher education and the role of universities across the EU”, notes prof. dr. Artūras Razbadauskas, rector at Klaipeda University.
Currently, over 400 universities are taking part in University Alliances EU-wide. Having emerged during the 1st phase of the European Universities initiative, EU-CONEXUS is an example of how collective knowledge and close cooperation can bring mutual benefits that echo across multiple institutions and communities, spanning the width of the entire continent.
The European Universities initiative is widely treated as having long-term transformative potential for higher education in Europe. That’s where the importance of a monitoring framework really comes through. The functions, focal points and supportive potential of this framework were an overarching theme that emerged throughout the sessions.
According to Laura Delvaux, Vice-Director of EU-CONEXUS, the monitoring framework should include as many dimensions as possible for the European Alliances. “Every initiative is like an octopus with multiple activities and sub-projects attached to it. Finding common guidelines for action and establishing proven methods for future use would bring in a new level of flexibility, allowing University Alliances to better identify their needs and make a lasting impact”, she notes.