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European Education Area

Quality education and training for all

European Universities Initiative

About the European Universities Initiative

The education landscape across Europe is changing. At the 2017 Gothenburg Summit, EU leaders outlined a vision for education and culture. In its December 2017 Conclusions, the European Council called on Member States, the Council and the Commission to take forward a number of initiatives, including

'…strengthening strategic partnerships across the EU between higher education institutions and encouraging the emergence by 2024 of some twenty 'European Universities', consisting in bottom-up networks of universities across the EU which will enable students to obtain a degree by combining studies in several EU countries and contribute to the international competitiveness of European universities'. 

The May 2021 Council Conclusions on the European Universities reiterated the support for the European Universities to achieve 

“…the ambitious vision of an innovative, globally competitive and attractive European Education Area and European Research Area, in full synergy with the European Higher Education Area, by helping to boost the excellence dimension of higher education, research and innovation, while promoting gender equality, inclusiveness, and equity, allowing for seamless and ambitious transnational cooperation between higher education institutions in Europe, and inspiring the transformation of higher education.”

Co-developed by higher education institutions, student organisations, Member States and the Commission, the European Universities Initiative responds to this call. Today, it is one of the flagship initiatives of the EU’s ambitions to build a  European Education Area.

What is a European University?

European Universities are transnational alliances that will become the universities of the future, promoting European values and identity, and revolutionising the quality and competitiveness of European higher education.

In order to achieve this major step forward, the initiative is offering opportunities to support diverse cooperation models for European Universities through the Erasmus+ calls for proposals.

The alliances

  • include partners from all types of higher education institution and cover a broad geographic scope across Europe
  • are based upon a co-envisioned long-term strategy focused on sustainability, excellence and European values
  • offer student-centred curricula jointly delivered across inter-university campuses, where diverse student bodies can build their own programmes and experience mobility at all levels of study
  • adopt a challenge-based approach according to which students, academics and external partners can cooperate in inter-disciplinary teams to tackle the biggest issues facing Europe today

The 41 European Universities alliances selected under the first two calls for proposals in 2019 and 2020 are testing diverse models of the concept of European Universities and examine its potential to transform higher education. The European Universities Initiative is being fully rolled out and scaled up under the Erasmus+ programme 2021-2027. 

2022 Erasmus+ European Universities call now open

To support the full rollout of the European Universities initiative, a new Erasmus+ call for proposals to support European Universities across Europe has been launched with a record total budget of €272 million. 

The call is structured around two topics

Topic 1: intensification of prior deep institutional transnational cooperation

This call topic will provide support for  existing deep institutional transnational cooperation alliances. The aim is to build upon the institutional cooperation achieved so far and to further deepen, intensify and expand the effectiveness of this existing cooperation in order to progress towards the long-term vision of the ‘European Universities’.

Topic 2: development of new deep institutional transnational cooperation

This call topic will provide support for applicants wishing to establish new deep institutional transnational cooperation in a new ‘European Universities’ alliance.

The deadline for applications submission is 22 March 2022.

For more information, see the factsheet on the Initiative and the information session.

Results of the second call (2020)

The results of the 2020 call were published in July 2020. Out of 62 applications received, 24 new European Universities alliances were selected involving 165 higher education institutions from 26 Member States and other countries participating in the Erasmus+ programme. For more information, see the full press release.

Results of the first call (2019)

The results of the 2019 call were published in June 2019. Out of 54 applications received, the first 17 European University alliances involving 114 higher education institutions from 24 Member States were selected. For more information, see the full press release.

European Universities - explained by students

 

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