Denmark/ 14 July 2020/ Author/ Eugene Eteris/ Source / http://www.baltic-course.com/
Reforms in education policies and consequential transformation of high schools and universities have to be accelerated to prepare young people for the jobs of tomorrow in a fast-changing society, and decision-makers to be empowered for solutions reflecting modern European and global challenges. The EU’s efforts to create “European universities” represent ideas that would change traditional approaches to a nation-concentrated sphere into a continental one.
The European Commission supports the EU states in ensuring that their education systems deliver. Recent EU’s publications on education and training reflect the increasing role of education in fostering progressive and sustainable growth, inclusion and social justice. The states have made further progress towards the targets for reforming and modernising education systems the EU set for 2020, reaching or getting very close to some of them.
However, we have to remember that the EU’s policy in education and culture (as well as youth, sport, tourism, etc.) has a supplementary and supporting competence to the member states’ policies. Though, the Commission is obliged to closely watching the member states’ efforts in meeting the European targets by the states, e.g. to enable young people to become engaged communities’ members.
The “European University” concept
The Commission has been giving fresh impetus to above-mentioned goals: in the beginning of 2018, together with the states, the EU adopted a recommendation on promoting “European shared values in inclusive education” and the European dimension of teaching. As to the EU’s involvement, the Union institutions mainly help stimulating investment and support policy priorities in education.
European inter-university campuses would be acting as role models using: a) automatic mutual recognition of studies and diplomas; b) introducing European Student Cards; and c) fostering Bologna commitment initiatives.
“European Universities” will also contribute to the sustainable economic development of the regions where they are located, as their students will work closely with companies, municipal authorities, academics and researchers to find solutions to the challenges their regions are facing.
European Universities are ambitious transnational alliances of higher education institutions aimed at developing long-term structural and strategic cooperation.
A key criterion includes minimum of 3 higher education institutions from at least 3 EU member States or from other countries within Erasmus program.
There are some key cooperation principles: e.g. alliances need a joint long-term strategy for education with, where possible, links to research and innovation to drive systemic, structural and sustainable impact at all levels of their institutions.
Alliances must create a European inter-university ‘campus’, where: students, staff and researchers enjoy seamless mobility (physical, virtual or blended) to study, train, teach, do research, work or share services at cooperating partner institutions; trans-disciplinary and transnational teams of students, academics and external stakeholders tackle big issues facing Europe, such as climate protection, sustainability, democracy, publich health, big data and digitalization, migration, etc. students can design their own flexible curricula, leading to a European Degree; practical and/or work-based experience is provided to foster an entrepreneurial mind-set and develop civic engagement; the student councils have to reflect the social, economic and cultural diversity of the European population; cooperating partners in alliance have to come from different parts of the European continent.
With its European Universities initiative, the European Commission aims at fostering excellence, innovation and inclusion in higher education across Europe, accelerating the transformation of higher education institutions into the universities of the future with structural, systemic and sustainable impact.
As to the history and perspectives of the idea, it has to be noted that the member states fully supported the “continental move”: thus, the European Commission initiated increase in education quality and supporting cooperation which was endorsed by the European Council already at the end of 2017. The EU-wide “quality education” was aimed at uniting initially at least 20 European universities to push forward the establishing of a European Education Area by 2025. The concept of the “European Universities” attracted initially applications from 54 education “alliances” involving more than 300 higher education institutions from the then 28 EU states and other Erasmus+ program countries, which replied to an Erasmus+ call on “European Universities” launched in October 2018.
The first pull resulted in creating initial 17 so-called “European Universities” (out of 54 applications) which would act as a role model for other high schools across the EU. They will enable the next generations of students to experience Europe by studying in different countries and change higher education in Europe while boosting excellence, competitiveness and inclusion.
Baltic States’ universities in the first round of 2019
Five universities from three Baltic States have joined the first stage of the “European University” concept and have been adopted as partners: Thus, in the ECIUn/Technology and engineering group, among 12 other European universities was Kauno Technologijos Universitetas, LT; in EU4Art group (Alliance for common fine arts curriculum), among 4 European high schools – Latvijas Makslas Academija, LV; in the FORTHEM group (Fostering Outreach within European Regions, Transnational Higher Education and Mobility), among 7 other universities – Latvijas Universitate, LV; in ARQUS group (European University Alliance), among 7 others – Vilniaus Universitetas, LT; and in the CONEXUS group (European University for Smart Urban Coastal Sustainability) – among 5 other high schools – Klaipedos Universitetas, LT.
The €60 million originally was set aside from the EU budget for the new Erasmus+ initiative; additional € 85 million has been supplied afterwards to allow for sufficient funding for 17 initial “university alliances”.
The list of the new 24 alliance and participating partners will be available soon.
History and perspectives
– October 2018 – European Commission launches 1st call to higher education institutions asking them to submit their proposals to start testing different models for European Universities
– June 2019 – Results of 1st call announced – pilot phase for 17 alliances
– November 2019 – First European Universities start cooperating
– July 2020 – Results of the 2nd call announced – pilot phase for additional 24 alliances
– November 2020 – all 41 European Universities starting cooperating activity
– 2021-2027 – proceeding active cooperation under the new Erasmus program, in synergy with Horizon Europe and other EU instruments.
Civic University: an example
CIVIS – a European Civic University – is a far-reaching vision whose goal is to have a significant impact on the development of societies, both locally and globally. CIVIS will intertwine relationships at all scales, with a wide diversity of stakeholders, in order to implement educational and research activities grounded in fast-changing ecosystems.
CIVIS aims at being a vector for change and innovation in the following areas: public health; cities, territories and mobility; climate change, environment and energy; digital and technological transformations; societies, culture and heritage.
There are 8 pioneers and 9 associates in CIVIS: Aix-Marseille University, France; National Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece; Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgium; Universitatea din Bucareşti, Romania; Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain; Sapienza Università di Roma, Italy; Stockholms universitet, Sweden; Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Germany.
CIVIS is an ambitious initiative to create a fully fledged European University Alliance: a strong governance structure will assure participation and co-creation from all stakeholders and efficiently support and enable inter-university cooperation. By stimulating educational innovation, CIVIS will contribute to accelerating the digital transformation of the university, pool scientists and stimulate new joint initiatives. CIVIS will forge richer interactions and co-creation of knowledge and skills with citizens, schools, enterprises, social and cultural associations.
References and source