Skip to main content

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, European Union (EU) leaders outlined a vision for education and culture. In its December 2017 Conclusions, the European Council called on EU 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. Building on progress during the initial phase, the initiative is now an integral part of the Erasmus+ 2021-2027 programme.

The European Universities are also a flagship initiative of the European strategy for universities that sets the ambition to support 60 European Universities involving more than 500 higher education institutions by mid-2024

What is a European University?

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

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

For more information, see the factsheet on the initiative.

44 European Universities in action

After the 2022 Erasmus+ call for proposals, we now have 44 European Universities involving around 340 higher education institutions in both capital cities and remote regions of 31 countries, including all EU Member States, Iceland, Norway, Serbia and Turkey. 

By partnering with around 1,300 associated partners ranging from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), enterprises, cities, local and regional authorities, the European Universities are able to substantially increase the quality and scope of higher education in Europe.

An overview of the 44 European alliances and their composition

Alliances selected under the 2019 Erasmus+ call finished their initial 3 year-funding period in 2022. They were eligible to apply to the 2022 Erasmus+ call for proposals.

For more information, see the available factsheets on the different European Universities.

2023 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 total budget of €387.2 million.

Find out more about the 2023 European Universities call.


The call is structured around two topics:

Topic 1: intensification of prior deep institutional transnational cooperation

This call topic will provide support for already existing deep institutional transnational cooperation alliances including, but not limited to, the European Universities alliances selected under the 2020 Erasmus+ call for proposals.

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’. New higher education institutions have the opportunity to join these existing alliances as full partners.

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.

How to apply

See the open competitive call for proposals for the 2023 Erasmus+ European Universities, based on qualitative criteria.

The deadline to apply is 31 January 2023.

Save the date for the upcoming information session on 15 November 2022. See the agenda and more details about the information session.

See the Commission factsheet on the European Universities for more information on the initiative.

Results of the 2022 Erasmus+ call

The results of the 2022 Erasmus+ call were published in July 2022. Out of 52 applications received, 16 existing alliances were selected for sustainable funding and 4 new European Universities were selected involving 175 higher education institutions from Member States and other countries associated to the Erasmus+ programme. For more information, see the full press release.

Results of the 2020 Erasmus+ call

The results of the 2020 Erasmus+ 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 2019 Erasmus+ call

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