Of course Umeå University should strive to more actively attempt to influence future European higher education policy. This was made clear by Vice-Chancellor Hans Adolfsson, student representatives and the audience at a panel discussion about the role of European universities held on campus on 23 May.
Sophia Eriksson Waterschoot, Director at the European Commission in charge of higher education, opened the panel discussion by introducing a strategy for European universities and ongoing EU initiatives in higher education.
The European Strategy for Universities has four joint key objectives: (i) strengthen the European dimension in higher education and research, (ii) support universities as lighthouses of our European way of life, (iii) empower universities as actors of change in the twin green and digital transitions; and (iv) reinforce universities as drivers of the EU's global role and leadership. Despite the EU lingo, the strategy is highly relevant.
Hans Wiklund, University Director
Photo: Mattias Pettersson
European Universities is one of four flagship initiatives that the EU has launched to implement the European Strategy for Universities. The purpose is to create European inter-university campuses where students, staff and researchers from all parts of Europe can enjoy seamless mobility and create new knowledge together, across countries and disciplines. Today, the European Commission has reached a decision on 44 European Universities consisting of 340 higher education institutions. Thirteen Swedish universities and university colleges currently take part in one of these established European university alliances. EU's objective is to launch 60 European Universities by 2024 combining 500 higher education institutions and with a total funding of EUR 1.1 billion from Erasmus+ for 2021–2027.
For some time now, Umeå University has been actively working to establish the European university alliance AcrossEU. The alliance gathers nine universities in eight countries totalling 160,000 students and 20,000 employees. The application was submitted at the beginning of 2023, and the European Commission will announce its funding decision on 30 June.
I am very eager to take on such an in-depth collaboration within European Universities in the near future as I am convinced it would be beneficial for Umeå University's progress. Beside, active participation in a European collaboration in higher education is important to safeguard our academic core values at a time when they are being tested.