The network of nine universities from Reykjavik via Innsbruck to Naples will receive a total of 5 million euros in funding over the next three years, enabling it to implement innovative cooperation projects in teaching, research and administration. The European Commission is funding 24 European University Alliances with 120 million euros within the framework of the call. A total of 62 alliances have applied for funding, which must consist of at least three universities from different European countries. The initiative, which is based on an idea of French President Macron from 2017, aims to deepen transnational cooperation between universities in line with the European idea, in particular by increasing the mobility of students, researchers and staff.
Consistent further development for Innsbruck University
“By joining the Aurora Network last year, we took a deliberate step towards stronger networking in the European context, which is now being further expanded through our participation in a European Universities Alliance,” says Rector Tilmann Märk, who is delighted with the European Commission’s decision to approve the proposal. “The projects and goals formulated in the course of the application are in great agreement with the university’s strategic objectives in the areas of internationalization, sustainability, digitization and diversity. The European Universities Alliance enables us to achieve a Europe-wide visible innovation push in order to support excellent research and teaching and to enhance the attractiveness of our university location”. The University of Innsbruck is involved in most of the alliance’s activities alongside the lead university VU Amsterdam and is responsible for the sustainability work package, among other things.
New forms of mobility
Funding for European University Alliances is provided by the Erasmus+ programme and is aimed in particular at the field of teaching and mobility. “In the future, new and more flexible forms of mobility will be necessary – also due to the Corona developments – which are not limited to a classic exchange semester,” explains Bernhard Fügenschuh, Vice Rector for Teaching and Students. “Within the framework of the European Universities Alliance, we will break new ground in order to establish innovative mobility possibilities already in individual courses, which are not only physical but also digital in nature. This mix will also enable us to meet our sustainability requirements, to use them in a targeted manner and to act in a more socially inclusive manner. After all, not all students can afford a semester abroad for various reasons. In the medium term, the new opportunities should ensure that as many students as possible gain inter- and transcultural experience as part of their regular studies, deepen their expertise in Aurora’s core topics and benefit overall from an expanded range of courses offered by the “Aurora European University”.
Immediate implementation with a long-term perspective
For the nine universities of the “Aurora European University”, further preparations must now be implemented rapidly. “The official start of the project is already on September 1, 2020, which is why we need to establish the necessary structures both at the University of Innsbruck and within the alliance,” concludes Thomas Baumgartner, coordinator of the Aurora network at the University of Innsbruck, and gives an outlook into the future. “Although the initial funding of the project is limited to three years, the universities of the Alliance have stated in their mission statement that the set goals include an implementation horizon of 10 to 15 years. The “Aurora European University” is thus to be seen as an entry into a longer-term development process that will continue to accompany the University of Innsbruck”. In the meantime, the European Commission has already announced a follow-up funding for the European Universities after 2023 and will provide additional funding with regard to research funding exclusively for European Universities alliances, to which the University of Innsbruck can then apply within the framework of the “Aurora European University”.