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Universities provide a forum for dialogue, knowledge and innovation exchange and cooperation across cultures and political divides. This is a key condition for an effective and collective response to global challenges.


EUA has consistently pushed for a global dimension of European higher education and research, be it with regard to EU policies or the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). Both the EHEA and the European Education Area emphasise education and research exchange and cooperation within and beyond Europe’s borders. Supported by the Erasmus+ and Horizon Europe programmes, academic mobility and cross-border institutional partnerships enjoy a high priority.

EUA is committed to democratic values, and an advocate of institutional autonomy and academic freedom. As such, the Association sees collaboration and openness as “the leading principles for universities to contribute to solving global challenges by shifting the frontiers of knowledge”, and supports “responsible and reciprocal openness” as a framework and aim of Europe’s international collaboration.

Learn more about EUA’s views on open international cooperation

To keep abreast of global higher education developments and to support and enhance the global university community, EUA itself engages in dialogue with partners within and outside of Europe, in manifold ways. For example, it is in official NGO partner of UNESCO (associate status), and an active member of the International Association of Universities (IAU).

In order to enhance multi- and bilateral exchanges, in 2021 EUA and other major university associations established the Global University Associations Forum (GUAF).

Discover GUAF

EUA supports the institutional development of internationalisation through a variety of projects and memberships services. It is also actively engaged in global policy dialogues and collaboration between Europe and other world regions, including the EU Neighbourhood.

EUA maintains links with the Association of African Universities and closely follows the Africa-EU Strategic Partnership.

EUA, AAU and other partners, have also previously mapped the various ways in which universities contribute to the development agenda and outlined several principles for European universities engaging with partners in emerging economies, in Africa and beyond. Since 2016, EUA and AAU have continued their partnership under the EU-funded HAQAA initiative, which is primarily focused on developing a pan-African Quality Assurance and Accreditation System.

EUA maintains relations with both the American Council on Education (ACE) and the Universities Canada. Since 1989, the three associations have gathered higher education institutional leaders for a Transatlantic Dialogue, to discuss and share perspectives on current higher education issues and policy developments.

In Latin America, EUA follows the process between the European Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), in which higher education, research, technology and innovation have been assigned priority. In 2017, the Association became the main European partner in a related stakeholder process, in close collaboration with LAC partner organisations and the EU-LAC Foundation. In 2023, EUA the Latin American and Caribbean Space for Higher Education (ENLACES) called for “a more structured EU-LAC higher education and research policy dialogue, with the systematic involvement of stakeholder organisations” and ”the further development of the EU-CELAC higher education area and the EU-CELAC research area”.

Over the years, EUA has also collaborated on projects with a number of different LAC university organisations, such as the Montevideo Group Universities’ Association (AUGM), Central American University Council (CSUCA), ASCUN and Anuies, as well as bi-regional groups including the Observatorio de las Relaciones Union Europea America Latina (OBREAL). and LAC university associations.

The Arab-Euro Conference on Higher Education (AECHE) is a joint initiative of the Association of Arab Universities (AARU) and EUA, supported by members and partners to promote dialogue, mutual understanding, and increased cooperation between Arab and European universities.

Launched in 2013 at the University of Barcelona, AECHE organises thematic conferences and promotes policy exchange between the two regions. In 2017, Mohammed V University in Morocco hosted the 4th AECHE Conference, which focused on research collaboration and capacity building among Arab and European universities.

To generate dialogue and sustainable relations between Asian and European institutions, EUA has a long record of engaging in initiatives with partners across Asia. Recently, EUA partnered in the initiative “European Union Support to Higher Education in the ASEAN Region” (SHARE-ASEAN).

Furthermore, EUA has been active in the ASEM Education Process been an active stakeholder in EU-China dialogue for many years.

For many years, European Neighbourhood policy has fostered higher education and research cooperation between the European Union and its neighbours in the Eastern Partnership, the Western Balkans, Russia and Central Asia, as well as in the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean.

EUA welcomes and supports these initiatives, also as its own membership includes higher education institutions in the 49 countries of the European Higher Education Area.

On behalf of the European Commission, EUA and partners have developed the Support for Higher Education Reform Experts (SPHERE) initiative. Since 2015, SPHERE provides support to Erasmus+ offices and national reform teams in 20+ countries of the Southern and Eastern Neighbourhood.

Of course, policies and measures are currently impacted by the war in Ukraine, leading to the suspension of Russia and Belarus from many programmes. In addition, Ukraine has temporarily been granted a particular status (similar to that of EU member states) with regard to participation in Erasmus+ and Horizon Europe.

The UK and Switzerland are closely engaged with the rest of Europe. Both are part of the Bologna Process and have roles in the European Research Area. The UK is a former member of the European Union and now has a structured relationship based on the various agreements and unilateral decisions, including association to the Horizon Europe programme. Switzerland has been associated to the framework programmes for research as well as to Erasmus+ in the past but is now in a period of transition in its relationship with the EU.

EUA has been working to ensure continued cooperation between universities in the two countries and in the rest of Europe. During the Brexit negotiations, the Association published several briefings and advocated in Brussels for association of the UK to EU programmes. Likewise for Switzerland, EUA argues for rapid association to the Erasmus+ and the Horizon Europe programmes.

EUA monitors the international trade agreements that the European Commission negotiates with third country partners and regions. While such agreements do not necessarily include higher education, neither do they automatically exclude it.

EUA, the American Council of Education (ACE), Universities Canada and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) issued a Joint Declaration on Higher Education and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) in 2001. In 2015, the EUA Board declared that higher education benefits individuals, society and the world at large in ways that are not easily quantifiable. It is a public responsibility to which all citizens have right of access and not a commodity to be transacted by commercial interests on a for-profit basis. It should not be subject to international trade regimes.

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