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The European Universities alliances in action

About the initiative

The European Universities initiative is an ambitious EU initiative aimed at establishing alliances between higher institutions from all across Europe, for the benefit of their students, staff and society. It is implemented primarily through Erasmus+ funding.

How the initiative is funded

By developing long-term structural and strategic and sustainable cooperation between the higher education institutions in the European Universities alliances, the initiative aims to

  • improve the international competitiveness of higher education institutions in Europe  
  • promote European values and identity

Through these alliances students can get a degree by combining studies in several European countries.

The initiative has the potential to bring greater benefits to higher education institutions than any previous cooperation projects.

Types of institutions

Higher education institutions that are part of an alliance together form a European University. These can include all types of higher education institutions from all across Europe, such as

  • research universities
  • university colleges
  • universities of applied sciences
  • universities of technology
  • universities of arts

The higher education institutions involved in a European Universities alliance work together with partners from outside the educational field to solve concrete societal problems. Such partners can include

  • the private sector, including SMEs and start-ups
  • local, regional and national public authorities
  • civil society

Find out how the benefits of European Universities alliances apply to you

Long-term joint strategies

European Universities develop and implement an integrated long-term joint strategy for education with, where possible, links to research and innovation, at the service of society. To achieve this, they are using joint management and governance structures and are building on a shared pool of resources, including

  • Human resources
  • Data and services
  • Finances
  • Administration
  • Infrastructure

The result? Access to high quality and inclusive education, research and innovation which is aligned with the current digital and green transition while responding to the major challenges in today’s society.

European inter-university campuses

The deeper institutional cooperation within the European Universities alliances allows students, doctoral candidates and staff to benefit from seamless mobility opportunities in so-called European inter-university campuses.

What do these offer?

  • People can study, train, teach, do research, work, or share services in any of the partner institutions, either physically, online, or both (as blended learning). Alliances aim for such mobility at all levels (bachelor, master and doctoral), with at least 50% of the students within the alliance benefitting.
  • Joint, flexible and innovative curricula, based on inter-disciplinary and cross-sectoral approaches, integrating student-centred learning and innovative pedagogies. Students are encouraged to customise where and when they study. This approach will also set solid ground for exploring the feasibility of a possible joint European degree at all levels, based on co-created European criteria, delivered at national, regional or institutional level, in accordance with the National Qualifications Frameworks.
  • Other flexible learning opportunities and pathways for any age group, with some leading to micro-credentials.
  • Work-based experience and traineeships with external mentors. These promote civic engagement, help learners to become more entrepreneurial, and promote the sharing of knowledge, talent and workforce across sectors.
  • student, academic and research bodies which are more diverse, include life-long and part-time learners, as well as under-represented and disadvantaged groups
  • Rewarding stronger and more diverse career paths and open science, open education and open data practices

Knowledge-creating teams

European Universities alliances are building European knowledge-creating teams. These look to solve real-world challenges using a ‘challenge-based approach’, which results in actionable solutions for practical problems.

For this, teams of students and academics can work together with researchers, entrepreneurs, companies, local and regional actors, and civil society actors – depending on the overall strategy and vision of the alliance.

This can be done for example in “living labs”, which are diverse multidisciplinary teams of students, researchers, professionals, innovation actors, and members of the public who work on real-life issues, so that their efforts are put into finding meaningful solutions. The end results will provide innovative and practical solutions. Beyond developing solutions, living labs increase connections between people, and provide more opportunities for participants to connect and become more civically involved.

Challenge-based approaches

  • combine shared education, teaching and learning, pedagogical innovation, research and innovation
  • allow groups to work together across disciplines through investigation and invention, helping to reinforce excellence in education and research and engagement with the public
  • use innovative learning and training that brings critical and creative thinking, transversal skills and helps learners innovate in the face of today’s fast-changing labour market and the wider world
  • create innovative solutions that can be adapted to different regions in Europe