Announcement brings the EU one step closer to 2024 target of setting up 60 European university groups, involving 500 higher education institutions. These will enable students to obtain a degree by combining studies in several EU countries
The European Commission has announced four new European university alliances under the 2022 Erasmus+ call, while 16 existing alliances will continue to receive funding to expand their cooperation with 30 more universities.
In the 2022 Erasmus+ call, the Commission aimed to help existing successful alliances get more funding to pursue their long-term vision and to establish new alliances.
Each of the 20 alliances can tap a budget of up to €14.4 million from the Erasmus+ programme for four years, a significant increase compared to previous calls, where the maximum funding was €5 million for three years.
The alliances selected under the 2022 Erasmus+ call can involve associated partners from the Bologna process countries, including Ukraine, the UK and Switzerland. The European Commission has not confirmed yet whether associated partners from Russia and Belarus, which are part of the Bologna process, can take part in the university alliances.
The announcement brings the EU one step closer to achieving the goals set out by the Commission in the European strategy for universities published in January, of supporting 60 European university groups involving more than 500 higher education institutions by mid-2024.
Currently, there are 44 such European university alliances, involving 340 higher education institutions, spread across 31 countries, including all EU member states, Iceland, Norway, Serbia, and Turkey.
Mariya Gabriel, EU commissioner for innovation, research, culture, education and youth is an advocate for a more tightly knit higher education sector in Europe. When the strategy for universities was published in January, Gabriel said the EU should work towards establishing a joint European degree to reduce the administrative burden of setting up cross-border joint programmes and allow students to get international experience more easily.
After French president Emmanuel Macron floated the idea of creating cross-border European university alliances, in a speech at the Sorbonne in November 2017, the Commission launched a pilot programme. However, the alliances that have been set up so far lack a proper legal framework that would allow them to tighten cooperation.
Gabriel says that strengthening existing university alliances and adding new ones will improve the EU’s prospects for upgrading its higher education system. “Today brings us closer to achieving our vision for the higher education sector in Europe: campuses that span between universities and cross borders and disciplines, where students, staff and researchers from all parts of Europe can enjoy seamless mobility, and create new knowledge together,” said Gabriel.
Later this year the Commission will launch a new Erasmus+ call for proposals with additional funding for existing alliances and to create new ones.
“I am proud that we are able to provide higher and more long-term funding for the alliances with the Erasmus+ programme, and also that we have ensured an inclusive approach, giving opportunities to higher education institutions to join existing alliances or to form new ones,” said Gabriel.
A record €1.1 billion under Erasmus+ is foreseen under the current programming period 2021-2027 to fund European university alliances.
A list of EU’s university alliances is available here.