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Current crises, and the geo-political, economic, social, environmental and technological change and uncertainty that they bring, are impacting how universities work, follow their missions and collaborate with European and global partners. To address this fundamental challenge, European cooperation, both between universities and at policy level, plays a vital role.

For this reason, the European University Association is launching the new “Universities and the future of Europe” (UniFE) project. Under the umbrella of UniFE, EUA is engaging in an in-depth consultation process with its membership to develop concrete ideas about what Europe’s universities want from future collaboration and need in terms of framework conditions, political structures and multilateral frameworks. Through leadership workshops, interviews with academic experts and discussions with national rectors’ conferences, the project will foster exchange and distil common ideas.

To strategically advise the Association in UniFE’s work, several experienced university leaders and academic experts have been appointed to the project’s Advisory Board:

  • Michael Murphy, EUA President. (Chair)
  • Carle Bonafous-Murat, Representative of France Universités in Brussels, former President of Sorbonne Nouvelle University, France.
  • Katja Brøgger, Associate Professor and Director of the Policy Futures research programme, Aarhus University, Denmark.
  • Jukka Kola, Rector, University of Turku, Finland.
  • Amaya Mendikoetxea, Rector, Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain.
  • Snježana Prijić Samaržija, Rector, University of Rijeka, Croatia.

EUA President, and UniFE Advisory Board Chair, Michael Murphy noted: “I am very grateful to the Advisory Board members for their willingness to participate and share their wisdom with us. This is not just a project, it is also a bit of an experiment for EUA. UniFE is not about trying to look into a crystal ball to predict the future. It is about using strategic foresight to gain insight and inspire action in the present for a better future for our societies and universities."

Through the Bologna Process and the European Union, Europe has a unique multilateral and multilevel framework for cooperation in higher education and research. Yet now, perhaps more than ever, it is important to prepare for different possible futures, without losing sight of our sector’s desired future as outlined by EUA in Universities without walls – A vision for 2030. UniFE’s outcomes will feed into EUA's engagement around the European elections in 2024 and the organisation's overall approach to European policy making as it relates to universities.

As a next step, two events for university leaders will take place: the online UniFE Leadership Workshop on “Universities and European cooperation: possible and preferred futures” on 28 March, and the UnIFE Leadership Retreat “Universities and the future(s) of Europe: from foresight to insight to action” at the European University Institute in Florence on 22-23 May 2023. The calls for applications for both events are open until 14 March 2023.

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