First 17 university alliances selected to form ‘European Universities’

SOURCE: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP
European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Tibor Navracsics addresses a press conference on the 30th anniversary of the Erasmus programme, at the European Commission in Brussels on January 26, 2017.

By U2B Staff 

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The European Commission has selected the first 17 university alliances for a three-year pilot project to develop and implement the first models of a “European University”.

The alliances involve 114 higher education institutions from 24 EU member states, and were selected after evaluation by 26 commission-appointed independent external experts, including rectors, professors and researchers.

“I am pleased to see the ambition of the first 17 European Universities, which will act as role models for others across the EU,” Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, said when confirming the selection last week.

“They will enable the next generations of students to experience Europe by studying in different countries. I am convinced that this initiative, a key building block of the European Education Area (EEA), will be a real game changer for higher education in Europe, boosting excellence and inclusion,” he added.

The European Universities initiative is a flagship project of the EEA, for which the commission has set a 2025 target. It was endorsed by the European Council in December 2017 which called for the emergence of at least 20 such universities by 2024.

European Universities are essentially inter-university campuses around which students, doctoral candidates, staff and researchers can move seamlessly. Within each alliance, platforms and resources are pooled to allow the delivery of joint curricula or modules covering various disciplines.

Curricula will be flexible, allowing students to personalise their education by choosing what, where and when to study in order to get their European degree.

European Universities will also contribute towards the sustainable development of the regions they’re in as their students will work closely with companies, municipal authorities, academics and researchers to find solutions to real-world challenges faced by the region.


In a nutshell, the key principles of European Universities are:

  • Alliances need a long-term strategy focused on sustainability, excellence and European values
  • Cooperating partners should come from different parts of Europe
  • Students can design their own curricula leading to a European Degree
  • Enhanced mobility for students and joint research projects for academic staff
  • Students, academics and external partners cooperate in teams covering different disciplines to tackle big issues (such as climate change, sustainable agriculture) Europe is facing today

In the first call, the commission received 54 applications, involving over 300 higher education institutions. After a rigorous evaluation process, 17 alliances were selected to kick off the initiative. A second call for applications will be issued this October.

According to the commission, the selected universities comprise a broad range of institutions across the EU, from universities of applied sciences, technical universities and universities of fine arts to comprehensive and research-intensive universities. Some alliances are multidisciplinary while there are others that are more focused on areas such as urban coastal sustainability, social sciences or global health.

From a total budget of EUR85 million from the Erasmus+ funding programme, the 17 networks will each receive up to EUR5 million for three years to implement their plans and pave the way for others across the region to follow suit. Their progress will be closely monitored. 

For the next 2021-2027 EU budget, the commission has proposed to fully roll out European Universities under Erasmus+ with a larger budget. 

The following are the selected alliances:

  • UNA Europa (1EUROPE)
  • The 4EU+ Alliance (4EU+) 
  • ARQUS European University Alliance (ARQUS)
  • CHARM European University (CHARMEU)
  • CIVICA – The European University in social sciences (CIVICA)
  • CIVIS – A European civic university alliance (CIVIS)
  • European University for Smart Urban Coastal Sustainability (CONEXUS)
  • ECIU University (ECIUn)
  • European Digital UniverCity (EDUC)
  • European Partnership for an Innovative Campus Unifying Regions (EPICUR)
  • Alliance for common fine arts curriculum (EU4ART)
  • European University Alliance for Global Health (EUGLOH)
  • European Universities Transforming to an Open, Inclusive Academy for 2050 (EUTOPIA)
  • Fostering Outreach within European Regions, Transnational Higher Education and Mobility (FORTHEM)
  • The European University of the Seas (SEA-EU)
  • University Network for Innovation, Technology and Engineering (UNITE!) 
  • Young Universities for the Future of Europe (YUFE).