European Universities Initiative: Council Encourages Member States to Ensure Transformation of EU Higher Education

The Council of the EU has adopted conclusions on the European Universities initiative connecting higher education, research, innovation, and society.

This initiative which was initially launched in 2017 by the EU leaders, will be entirely introduced during the EU’s 2021-2027 funding period, reports.

After coming up with the conclusions, the ministers suggested member states and the Commission make sure that the initiative will remain crucial to establishing the European Education Area by 2025, encouraging the transformation of EU higher education and helping to make the European Education Area and European Research Area innovative and competitive in a global level. 

The Council has advised the member states to benefit from all the available funds, including Recovery and Resilience Facility, in order to support further the development of the European Universities initiative.

In a bid to avoid and remove the barriers which can appear in the European level cooperation, the ministers have, among others, suggested increased cooperation between education authorities, higher education institutions, and stakeholders.

“A stepwise approach to joint recruitment schemes for teachers and researchers should be promoted by ‘European Universities’, aimed at effective “multidirectional” and “balanced” brain circulation across Europe, associated with strengthened responsible research and teaching careers, particularly for young researchers,” a press release issued by the Council of the EU reads.

Moreover, they have required the Commission to report by the end of 2021 over the key results of the first alliances’ mid-term review so member states can better observe the initiative’s development.

The Minister of Science and Higher Education of Portugal Manuel Heitor said that European Universities’ should encourage the adoption of science principles, ensuring that career development can be associated with research publications accessible on journal websites or more.

“…as well as other open science practices, such as open access publishing, knowledge and data sharing, and open collaboration,” Heitor said.

Furthermore, the ministers highlighted that the initiative’s first results had already been noticed as according to a recent survey, the members of the first 17 “European Universities“ claimed that being part of an alliance has helped them to control the COVID-19 crisis and recover quicker.

Back on December 17, the EU leaders urged the Member States, the Council, and the Commission to reinforce the strategic cooperation within higher education in the EU and to stimulate the emergence of twenty “European Universities” by 2024, to which call responds the  European Universities initiative.

“European Universities“ are consisted of at least three higher education institutions from three EU member countries or other countries participating in the Erasmus program.

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