Henrik S. Wegener, Rector of University of Copenhagen, represented 4EU+ Alliance at the online event „European Universities Initiative: Sharing good practices, lessons learned and plans among UNICA members” organised by the UNICA Network on 30 November.
“It is very important for UNICA to follow the topic [of European Universities], it is very close to the hearts of our members,” said Prof. Luciano Saso, President of UNICA, in his opening speech. For UNICA, it is a priority to play a role of an umbrella organisation”.
UNICA is an institutional network of 53 universities from 37 capitals of Europe, with 36 of its members being part of “European Universities” consortia – this number includes four members of the 4EU+ Alliance: Charles University, Sorbonne University, University of Copenhagen and University of Warsaw. The online event brought together representatives of 15 UNICA member universities that form part of European University alliances selected in the first and second Erasmus+ “European Universities” calls.
In the first panel, speakers representing 9 alliances selected in the 2019 call discussed the lessons learned, good practices and their experience of the first year of implementing the “European Universities” project. Emphasis was placed on alliances’ activities carried out to ensure the integration of research and education. “In 4EU+, we see each other as leading research-intensive universities in Europe and therefore focusing on how to further integrate and make use of our huge research activities in our educational activities is of utmost importance to us. It has been on top of our minds from the beginning that this is where we have to make new advances,” said Prof. Henrik S. Wegener, Rector of University of Copenhagen. We have created a joint position paper on innovative pedagogies, which also focuses on new ways to bring living and active research closer to students. We are developing novel ways to engage students in inquiry-based activities, where faculty facilitates, surpervises and mentors students as if they were early-stage researchers.”
Rector Wagener also spoke about the joint educational projects developed within the four 4EU+ Flagships and presented the recent 4EU+ Urban Health Case Challenge as an active means to inspire students to apply what they study in concrete contexts and develop solutions to the current global challenges.
On governance, communication strategies and multilingualism, the representatives of different alliances spoke about the challenges of transforming from an alliance or a project model to a more institutional governance model, while ensuring the alliances’ sustainability, flexibility and the autonomy of member institutions. The panelists also stressed the need of including students and other stakeholders in the “European Universities” governance models and the importance of promoting less-widely-taught European languages.
Discussing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on European Universities, the panelists agreed that although the lockdown and inability to participate in face-to-face meetings and mobility programmes have been a challenge, the situation gave the alliances a boost in the development of digitalization, online education and virtual campuses.
Watch the recording of the online event: