from October 2, 2023 to December 15, 2023
Published on October 2, 2023 Updated on October 6, 2023

European Alliances Take Stage at EAIE 2023 

The EUTOPIA community at #EAIE2023

A Glimpse into the Future of Higher Education

The 33rd Annual Conference and Exhibition of the Association for International Education (EAIE) took place on 26–29 September 2023 in Rotterdam (Netherlands). In this grand professional gathering of over 239 exhibitors and more than 6,000 higher education staff from around the globe, 7 out of 50 European university alliances, among them EUTOPIA, had decided to have a booth and make a mark. The European Commission also benefited from its own stand at the fair. 

Representing the Alliance, its Secretary-General Mattia Bellotti seized the opportunity in Rotterdam to undertake connections and conversations with the EUTOPIA’s member universities present in Rotterdam and with EUTOPIA’s global partners from Australia, Morocco, South Africa and South Korea. The message from all was clear: the EAIE is the stage to collectively showcase the Alliance’s commitment to the higher education community.

EUTOPIA’s engagement took various other forms, too. On one front, we orchestrated a compelling session discussing innovative approaches to student engagement, which was co-organised with EUGLOH, chaired by Emilie Helmeid (University Paris-Saclay), and featuring Karin Jonson, international project manager from the University of Gothenburg and Paul-Adrien Viala, EUTOPIA’s Student Council President,  Charlotte Malle his counterpart (University Paris-Saclay) at EUGLOH, and Isabelle Nilsson (Lund University). This session captivated educators and professionals eager to explore new strategies for connecting with students in an ever-evolving educational landscape. On another front, a session chaired by professor Helena Ramalinho Lourenço, Vice-Rector of the University of Pompeu Fabra-Barcelona, meticulously examined the intricacies of European alliances’ cooperation with global partners, taken from the experience of three Alliances, EUTOPIA, SEA-EU (represented by Alexandra Teodósio, University of Algarve) and ARQUS (represented by Dorothy Kelly, University of Granada). The central question was not theoretical but deeply practical: how should these alliances collaborate effectively and secure the necessary funding to sustain these vital partnerships? The workshop attempted to draft a roadmap for forging international collaborations, laying the groundwork for a future of enhanced cooperation.

Looking ahead to the next EAIE conference in Toulouse, France, the 7 European university alliances present in Rotterdam chose to double down on their commitment to collective visibility. In a professional meeting of the communications heads of CIVIS, CIRCLE U, EUTOPIA, FORTHEM, SEA-EU, UNA EUROPA and UNITE!, the critical importance of collaboration and visibility was highlighted. They thus decided to submit to their boards and all other alliances the idea of joining forces in 2024 to make a resounding impact in Toulouse. This move would not only heighten their visibility but also underscore for the public the critical role of the European University Initiative (EUI) in shaping the future of higher education in Europe. This would mean making a strategic move and asking EAIE to be in the same exhibition sector, further strengthening their status as challenging entities within the global higher education landscape. This shifting would not only reaffirm the Alliance’s position but also amplify the public existence of the European Universities Initiative. 

In Rotterdam, the European university alliances sent a message to the global higher education community: unity, visibility, and cooperation are the pillars upon which they build the future of higher education in Europe. Those who were not part of this transformative moment must now reckon with the reality that, in the world of higher education, presence is paramount, and the European University Initiative is at the forefront of this transformative journey.