The videos of the events are available on our Youtube Channel.

We are at a tipping point for transnational university cooperation in Europe.

What is and should be the purpose of working across borders? Do current formats work in the new reality? What else may we need? How should we deal with present challenges and what does the future hold?

These and more questions were discussed at the EUA event on transnational university cooperation that took place on 12 December (8.30-13.30) onsite at Blue Point, Boulevard Auguste Reyers 80, 1030 Brussels. In addition, it was streamed.  

This event brought together university representatives, higher education and research stakeholders and European level policy makers to discuss and to inspire a reflection about the future taking account of current challenges and external developments.

Over the past decade, the emergence of strategic partnerships and alliances has contributed to deepening cooperation while expanding it to new partners. In parallel, diverse forms of cooperation exist across bilateral student mobility, joint programmes, peer to peer research collaboration, small to large scale cooperation projects and much more.

In Europe and beyond, the paradigm has long been the more mobility and cooperation the better. But as we shift from the Covid-19 pandemic into a major geopolitical crisis and the sustainability challenge becomes more apparent many paradigms are changing, and this also impacts transnational university cooperation. With the pilot phase of the European Universities Initiative coming to an end and the mid-term review of current EU funding programmes already approaching, this is an important period for Europe’s universities to take stock and reflect on what we need and where we want to go. This reflection must take account of the wider context and major developments without getting carried away by them. It is a time to focus.

General moderation: Amanda Crowfoot, EUA Secretary General

08.30-09.00 Onsite registration and welcome coffee

09.00-09.15 Introductory speech by Amanda Crowfoot, EUA Secretary General 

09.15-09.45 Academic perspectives on present and future of transnational university cooperation

Jeroen Huisman, Professor for Higher Education, Ghent University, Belgium
Liviu Matei, Professor of Higher Education and Public Policy, King’s College, London, UK

Moderation: Irina Ferencz, Director, Academic Cooperation Association (ACA)

09.45-10.45 Panel 1 – Purposes, current formats, frameworks and challenges

Transnational collaboration is a key feature of the European university landscape, and it takes many different forms from student mobility to small scale collaboration projects, peer-to-peer research collaboration to fully fledged multilateral partnerships like the alliances under the European Universities Initiative.

Transnational university collaboration is also a big focus of European level policy discussions in the context of the European Strategy for Universities and the Bologna Process and there are many policy goals attached to it. But what are the academic purposes and added value and how can we make sure they are kept in focus and balanced with political goals? Diverse formats also come with different needs and challenges. What are these challenges and are current frameworks fit for purpose to support these diverse formats of collaboration?

After showcasing concrete examples of collaboration, these questions will be discussed together with university and student representatives as well as policy makers.

Michael Murphy, President, European University Association
Kathleen O’Connor, Vice-President for International and European Networks, University of Lille, France
Matteo Vespa, President, European Students Union
• Sophia Eriksson-Waterschoot, Director for Youth, Education and Erasmus+, Directorate General for Education and Culture, European Commission

Moderation: Anna-Lena Claeys-Kulik, Deputy Director for Policy Coordination and Foresight, EUA

10.45-11.15 Coffee break

11.15-12.15 Panel 2 – Future prospects and international outlook

The world is changing rapidly as we are sliding from the pandemic into a major geopolitical crisis that ultimately also affects universities and the way they collaborate in Europe and beyond. What does the future hold for transnational collaboration and where do we want to go? Is crisis the new normal? Will universities be able to remain globally connected or will we see a refocusing of partnerships due to political constraints? What does this mean for higher education and research? These questions will be discussed in session 2 together with representatives from universities, the EU institutions and other stakeholders.

Verena Blechinger-Talcott, Vice-President for International Affairs, Free University of Berlin
Marcello Scalisi, Director, Mediterranean Universities Union (UNIMED)
Martina Hartl, Deputy Head of Department for International Research Cooperation and Science Diplomacy, Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research, Austria and Member of the ERA Subgroup on the Global Approach to R&I cooperation
Martin Penny, Head of Unit for International Cooperation, Europe, Americas and thematic coherence, Directorate General for Research and Innovation, European Commission

Moderation: Thomas Jørgensen, Director for Policy Coordination

12.15-12.30 Wrap-up and closing by Amanda Crowfoot, Secretary General, EUA

12.30-13.30 Lunch

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