In 2019, the European Commission selected 17 alliances of higher education institutions to become European Universities. A second call followed this year that resulted in 24 new alliances. On 4 November, the Directors-General for Higher Education in the European Education Area met with representatives of the 41 alliances. The aim was to share experiences and formulate strategies for the new Erasmus+ generation starting in 2021.
In the morning session, Leipzig University Professor Rector Beate A. Schücking, together with two rectors from alliances in the pilot group, reported on our experiences during the first Arqus year with the 24 new alliances. She described the European Universities Initiative as a particularly ambitious project, whose added value and at the same time challenge is to integrate the Alliance’s strategy throughout the entire university. To fully achieve this integration, Leipzig University has focused on activities from its own University Development Plan (HEP).
Our Rector emphasised the importance of working together internally at the respective universities. Academic staff and the individual disciplines must be included in the work of the Alliance and benefit from the new network. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Leipzig University has regularly held local meetings online. This has made it possible for those involved to see themselves as part of the Alliance, actively participate and network. The number of participants is continually growing at our university, making it possible to integrate many different perspectives. The Rector sees this exchange as a vital tool for the Arqus Alliance in its early stages of development.
At the end of her address, Beate Schücking pointed to the aspects that are necessary for a successful alliance. Stability and, in particular, planning security are very important. In order to successfully reach the goals set for European Universities, higher education institutions must be able to count on comprehensive funding. At the same time, Professor Schücking stressed that it is important to have a certain degree of flexibility and realistic objectives in these times of limited mobility.
This sentiment was reiterated at the afternoon session, at which Dr Svend Poller, head of the International Centre, stood in for the Rector. The Alliance representatives recommended that the EU Commission provide these projects with longer-term and more flexible funding. The student representatives expressed their desire for greater involvement. Establishing joint courses of study should provide direction for the future, and if possible these should be under the umbrella of a newly established European Degree.
Created by: Luise Hofmann