On 28 February 2019, the 4EU+ Alliance submitted an application in the Erasmus+ “European Universities” dedicated call. Launched as part of the 2019 Erasmus+ programme call for proposals, the pilot initiative will support a number of European University alliances and is considered a milestone towards the establishment of the European Education Area by 2025.
The 4EU+ European University Alliance brings together six large public well-established comprehensive research universities. Together, the 4EU+ institutions aim to create a new quality of cooperation in teaching, education, research and administration and to establish an infrastructure that will seamlessly connect students, academic and administrative staff. The Alliance is based on a shared vision for a European university that embraces academic values, ensures equitable access to education, and shapes the next generations of open-minded and critical-thinking citizens to be ready to face and solve global challenges.
Six universities with shared responsibility for Europe
The Alliance was conceived two years ago by Charles University (Czech Republic), Heidelberg University (Germany), Sorbonne University (France) and University of Warsaw (Poland). The 4EU partnership was formally established with the signing of a joint declaration on 10 March 2018 in Paris and further cemented with the endorsement of the Joint Strategy for Long-term Cooperation in early October 2018. In the same month, the Alliance expanded to include two universities, University of Copenhagen (Denmark) and University of Milan (Italy), 4EU thus became 4EU+. The six institutions signed a Memorandum of Understanding and approved a Mission Statement, which reflects the universities’ shared sense of responsibility in providing solutions to important global challenges and ensuring a better balance within European higher education.
The 4EU+ Alliance builds upon already existing bilateral and multilateral collaborations but intends to bring the cooperation to an advanced level by establishing a cross-institutional and flexible environment for academic leadership, students and staff, which opens up novel possibilities for learning, teaching, research, innovation and societal outreach that are beyond the capacity of each individual university. The 4EU+ Mission defines the Alliance objectives for the three-year Erasmus+ pilot project and for a long-term perspective.
An active alliance
Since March 2018, the Alliance has held more than 25 weekly online and face-to-face meetings and workshops that in total brought together over 200 participants, including university leaders, students, faculty, researchers and academic staff. More than 100 joint research, education and staff competence development project proposals have been put forward, with the majority of them being rooted in the 4EU+ Flagship Programmes:
- Health and demographic change in an urban environment
- Europe in a changing world: Understanding and engaging societies, economies, cultures and languages
- Transforming science and society by advancing information, computation and communication
- Biodiversity and sustainable environment
The 4EU+ institutions have already been successful in obtaining several national grants, which enabled the Alliance to increase its common budget, offer micro-grants and seed funding for the further development of joint initiatives, thus already putting the first 4EU+ projects in motion. The establishment of joint governance structures enabled streamline cooperation.
The participation of the 4EU+ Alliance in the first Erasmus+ “European Universities” call is supported by more than 20 Associated Partners who have expressed their intent to contribute to the activities of the Alliance. The Associated Partners range from non-governmental organisations (European Environmental Bureau, Robert Schuman Foundation), chambers of commerce, regional authorities (the Cities of Copenhagen, Milan and Warsaw, Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region), and business partners, among them Cap Digital, SAP SE and Suez. Important policy-making institutions such as the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education, the Parliament of the Czech Republic, Czech Ministry of Education and Student Chamber of Czech Council of Higher Education Institutions have expressed their support for the 4EU+ initiative.