from September 15, 2023 to September 30, 2023
Published on September 15, 2023 Updated on February 5, 2024

EUTOPIA Alliance at the Forefront of Barcelona's II Forum of Universities for Europe's Future

EUTOPIA at the II Forum. L to R: Maïté Viudes, Helena Ramalinho, Laia de Nadal, Tiziana Lippiello, Mattia Bellotti

Barcelona. 15 September 2023 — The II Forum of Universities for the Future of Europe, held on September 14th and 15th in Barcelona, marked a significant step in the European Union's quest to enhance transnational student mobility and foster innovative education. As a consortium of leading European universities committed to reshaping the landscape of higher education across the continent, EUTOPIA couldn't miss the rendezvous.

The II Forum brought together rectors, academic leaders, and alliance coordinators across Europe. Among the guests were Tiziana Lippiello, Rector of Ca' Foscari University of Venice and President of  EUTOPIA and Laia de Nadal, Rector of Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona. Alongside them was Mattia Bellotti, the Secretary-General of EUTOPIA.

The Forum highlighted the Spanish Presidency's educational goals within the EU Council. A central objective is to bolster transnational student mobility, a vision aligned with the purpose of European university alliances. These alliances, now numbering 50 with the participation of 35 European countries, pave the way for students to earn a European degree by combining studies at different universities. Students can now pursue education and careers in diverse disciplines, languages, and countries.
The expansion of European university alliances holds great promise for students and researchers, for they offer innovative educational programs that provide essential competencies for the future while promoting European identity and values.

The Barcelona Forum, organised by the Ministry of Universities, addressed critical issues such as the legal status of these alliances and the development of joint European degree programs (European Degree Label) in higher education institutions. Additionally, discussions encompassed matters such as the global dimension of these alliances and the European student card's widespread use, all proposals student associations put forth.

The European Degree Label initiative, endorsed by the European Commission, aims to facilitate the joint issuance of diplomas, degrees, and certificates throughout the European Higher Education Area. EUTOPIA participates in the related EdLab project. It seeks to propagate universal criteria for corresponding joint educational programs while eliminating existing barriers to transnational cooperation.

The concept of European Universities was born at the EU Summit in Gothenburg, Sweden, in 2017 to strengthen strategic partnerships among higher education institutions. Over the years, it has expanded to include universities from all 27 EU member states and Iceland, Norway, and Turkey. The recent 2023 call for participation also saw higher education institutions from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia joining the initiative. Besides enhancing the international competitiveness of the 430 participating institutions, the almost 1,700 associated entities, including NGOs, businesses, and local and regional authorities, bring extensive innovation to European regions.
With a record-breaking overall budget of €402.2 million from the Erasmus+ program for this call, each alliance receives up to €14.4 million over four years. These funds are allocated to consolidate previously selected alliances and expand to new members. The next call for participation in the European Universities initiative, scheduled for this autumn, aims to increase the number of alliances to 60 by mid-2024, with over 500 participating institutions aligning with the European Universities Strategy.

Each alliance spans a broad spectrum of higher education institutions, including comprehensive and research universities, universities of applied sciences, technology institutes, arts schools, and institutions of higher education and vocational training. They offer jointly taught study programs across various campuses, enabling the creation of customised educational programs and fostering student and faculty mobility across all levels of study. Moreover, the alliances promote sustainable, long-term, cross-border collaboration in education, research, and innovation, reshaping the future of European higher education. EUTOPIA is playing its part in this transformative journey towards a more integrated and globally competitive European higher education landscape.