EUTOPIA Inclusion Framework

Inclusion is integral to the EUTOPIA Alliance: it is what the ‘I’ in EUTOPIA stands for. This Inclusion Framework is intended to communicate the alliance’s approach to inclusion in a clear and accessible way. It also represents a set of commitments for which the alliance can be held accountable.

The framework has five sections:

  • Defining inclusion
  • Our core principles
  • Our roadmap to inclusion in Higher Education
  • Our current approach
  • Our future ambitions

It will serve as a dynamic resource that evolves over time, reflecting the development of the EUTOPIA Alliance itself as it is co-created by students, staff, and external stakeholders.

Defining inclusion

The EUTOPIA Alliance embraces the diversity and fluidity of the term ‘inclusion’, which is always situated in a specific time and place. Inclusion can mean different things in different contexts and for different people. It can be defined positively in terms of empowering individuals and groups, or negatively in terms of reducing the factors that exclude those individuals and groups.

In the core principles below, and in the case studies and student testimonials presented in this framework, we celebrate the multiplicity of perspectives on inclusion in our cross-cultural alliance.

Our core Principles

The EUTOPIA Alliance sees inclusion as fundamental to the creation of excellent and socially relevant European Universities. We are committed to building an inclusive model of Higher Education, shaped by five core principles:


Core Principle 1: Transforming Universities

European Universities must become accessible and inclusive. Inclusion is not about assimilating disadvantaged groups into the institution, but transforming the institution so that it includes and supports everyone.

Core Principle 2: Co-creation

European Universities of the future must be co-created with students, staff, and external stakeholders. Co-creation must encompass the beginning, middle, and end of the creative process, involving stakeholders at every stage.

Core Principle 3: Flexibility

European Universities must be flexible in their approach to inclusion, while also defining key concepts clearly. Disadvantage and inclusion can be defined differently or have different ramifications depending on context and perspective, and communications about inclusion should be comprehensible for a range of different audiences.

Core Principle 4: Curriculum Review

European Universities must review the inclusiveness of their curricula. The content of a module syllabus, and the teaching methods used inside (and outside) the classroom, are crucial to the creation of an inclusive educational environment.

Core Principle 5: Staff Perspectives

European Universities must pay special attention to staff, both as stakeholders who should benefit from inclusive policies and practices, and as the direct facilitators of educational (and other) activities. University staff must be included, and trained to be inclusive, if policies are to be implemented in a way that benefits students.

Our roadmap to inclusive practice

Our roadmap towards inclusive practice in Higher Education is structured in five stages:


Stage 1: Legislation

National and institutional regulations are vital prerequisites to fostering inclusion. These should be visible, accessible, and continuously monitored. They can include official legislation as well as a range of less formalised measures, operations, and statements of principle.

Legislation on inclusion should underline that universities are obliged to make adjustments to meet different people’s needs. It should be understood by all stakeholders in Higher Education that such adjustments are rights, and are not to be considered as ‘special treatment’. Effective communication processes (see next stage) are therefore vital to raise awareness about existing policies. 

Stage 2: Processes

The processes whereby such regulations (and other aspects of HE) are created must also be inclusive. Processes should be scrutinised in all areas of university activity, from teaching and research to knowledge transfer, HR, recruitment, and employment.

Stakeholders should be consistently involved in and informed about every stage of these processes, especially those stakeholders who have experienced disadvantage (experts by experience). There should be multiple mechanisms for input, with ample time for consultation and development.

Mechanisms can include conferences, open forums, discussion groups, surveys, and the activities of university bodies such as those described in the next stage.

Stage 3: University bodies

Dedicated teams should be set up to enable, implement, and maintain inclusion as an underlying principle in every aspect of university culture. These bodies, like the processes described above, should be visible and accessible.

University bodies can conduct research and monitoring activities, consult and advise on new measures, help to implement those measures and raise awareness of them, and provide avenues for dealing with reporting and complaints.

Stage 4: Actions

A university’s inclusive infrastructure (Stage 1), designed through inclusive processes (Stage 2), and maintained by dedicated teams (Stage 3), should result in practical actions that create an inclusive environment (Stage 4).

Inclusion policies should not only indicate what a university would like to do, but should also indicate how things should be done, and by whom. These proposed actions should take into account the gap that often exists between inclusion policies and their implementation on the level of individual stakeholders.

Stage 5: Evaluation

Implemented measures should be reviewed and revised through an ongoing co-creative process. Evaluation must involve stakeholders in follow-up discussion about the impact of policies and practices, and must embrace the dynamic and ever-changing nature of inclusion.

Our current approach

The EUTOPIA universities are committed to sharing information about inclusion-related policies and practices, in order to learn from each other’s experiences and identify common ground. Each university works within a specific context, with its own national and institutional policies, its own approach to defining inclusion, and its own unique stories to tell. We are proud to showcase a selection of stories from the individual universities of the alliance, and from the individual students who have contributed to this project.

Visit our showcase of Inclusion Case Studies

Hear what the students of EUTOPIA have to say about inclusion

Read about how EUTOPIA’s inclusion team created this framework

Our future ambitions

By getting to know each other through the work of the EUTOPIA alliance, we have begun to identify areas where we are working towards the same goals and addressing the same challenges. Building the inclusive European University of the future is a long-term project that will never be 'finished', and EUTOPIA is committed to pursuing this project as an integral part of all its activities.

As the alliance enters an exciting new phase in 2023, with a larger number of universities and a wider range of stakeholders to engage with, the need for a coordinated and consistent approach to inclusion will be more urgent than ever. Inclusion will be embedded transversally throughout the alliance and its projects, informing how we approach our work in education, research, innovation, and external engagement.

This Inclusion Framework will continue to be a central, and evolving, resource in support of the alliance’s work. It has been used as the basis for an Inclusion Manifesto, which distils key commitments and pledges for EUTOPIA to fulfil in the future.