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The Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), the University of Warwick, the Université Paris Seine, the University of Gothenburg, Pompeu Fabra University Barcelona and the University of Ljubljana are now working together in a new European university alliance: EUTOPIA. To achieve this, several memoranda were signed by all the universities involved on Wednesday, 12 December, in Ljubljana. This collaboration is in line with the European Commission’s call to expand and strengthen European cooperation in higher education and scientific research.
What started earlier this year as a structural collaboration between the University of Warwick, the Université Paris Seine and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, resulted in the foundation of a single European university alliance in which six leading European universities joined forces. The three new partners are the University of Gothenburg (Sweden), Pompeu Fabra University Barcelona (Spain) and the University of Ljubljana (Slovenia).
Confirmation of the European Idea
The new alliance is called EUTOPIA; referring to the strong European idea of the participating universities. At the time Brexit comes into force and and supranational collaboration is increasingly being forced to give in to national interests., this is a call for more European cooperation, says Caroline Pauwels, rector of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel:
“Through education and research programs such as Erasmus, Horizon 2020 and the European Research Council (ERC), Europe proves that international collaboration and teamwork are the best recipe for success. The launch of the European Universities Initiative is an even greater incentive to start long-term partnerships based on jointly developed curricula and a permanent exchange of students and staff. The name EUTOPIA refers to the ambition of all partners to realize the European dream.By jointly setting up programs that transcend national borders, we aspire to train the Europeans of the future.”
Proposal at the European Commission
Igor Papič, rector of University of Ljubljana, will present this alliance to the European Commission in February 2019 on behalf of all partners. From all candidates six alliances will be retained in September 2019, to start a pilot process and receive a total of 30 million euros additional support over three years. It is the intention that twenty alliances will emerge by 2024 to strengthen European inter-university cooperation.
Igor Papič, rector of University of Ljubljana said:
“I am very pleased that the Pompeu Fabra University from Barcelona and the University of Gothenburg are joining the EUTOPIA Alliance. We have completed our consortium with excellent universities from different parts of Europe. I sincerely thank the partners for entrusting the University of Ljubljana with the leadership of the Alliance. We consider this to be a great responsibility and honour for our university, and also shows the sincere desire of the partnership to offer complementarity, inclusiveness and synergies between research, education, innovation, and interregional collaboration. I am convinced that our application will provide very creative ideas for the future of the European University Networks.”
Eva Wiberg, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Gothenburg said:
“The network includes prominent European universities, covering a broad geographic scope, and we are delighted that we could join this association. All of the institutions in the alliance take on a great responsibility when it comes to quality driven research and education, and have a lot to gain from collaboration. One of the aims is to apply for the recently announced funding from the European Universities Initiative.”
Jaume Casals, Rector of Pompeu Fabra University - Barcelona said:
“EUTOPIA is, first of all, a happy encounter: a real friendly alliance at an opportune moment. Then it is a useful tool, optimal for the birth of innovative European universities in the 21st century, respectful with the local environment and with a vocation for impact on a planetary scale.”
The University of Warwick’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stuart Croft said:
“Speaking as one of the founder members of this new alliance it is great to have both the Pompeu Fabra University – Barcelona, and the University of Gothenburg join the alliance and we are absolutely delighted that the University of Ljubljana has agreed to take this leadership role. It is the leading, oldest and largest University in Slovenia, and one of Europe’s largest universities. It is an institution with which Warwick already collaborates in research – especially in maths and complexity science.”
François Germinet, for Université Paris Seine said:
“Sharing a common perspective and joining our forces through our 6 universities, from North to South, East and West Europe, is a real momentum for EUTOPIA. We all share strong beliefs in universities capability to entwine territories, companies and learning issues. Together we are stronger to carry our societies towards new ways of collaboration to innovate and consolidate the threads of education at all levels. This is definitely a practice-oriented tightening force that underpins our Alliance in which Université Paris Seine is proud to take part”.
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More information on the European Universities Initiative can be found on the website of the European Commission.