The European Commission proposed a new European Universities Initiative to EU leaders ahead of the Gothenburg Social Summit in November 2017. The idea was to create inter-university campuses and university systems around which students, doctoral candidates, staff and researchers could move seamlessly, strengthening the European Higher Education Area and allowing students to get a European degree. The initiative was endorsed by the European Council in December 2017 and pushed for an emergence of at least 20 European Universities by 2024 with the aim to establish a European Education Area by 2025.
The first call for applications was launched in October 2018 with the goal to select 12 European Universities as the initial foundation of the initiative. In the end, the call was so successful that 54 applications came in from over 300 higher education institutions (HEIs) and 28 EU Member States and other Erasmus+ Programme Countries. The budget was increased from €60 million to €85 million to grant 17 European Universities – made up of 114 HEIs from 24 Member States – a chance to launch their programmes with a €5 million budget over the next three years. These 17 universities will be closely monitored to check their progress and to see what works well within their new systems. Both this first set of universities and those selected during the second call – which is expected to launch this fall – will test different models to implement a new concept of what it means to run a European university and increase the potential to boost higher education overall.
For more information, you can read the press release from the European Commission here. Those interested in the European Universities Initiative might also be interested in the “Developing a European Approach for Comprehensive QA of (European) University Networks” (EUniQ) project in which ENQA is a partner. More information about that project can be found here.