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ACA position paper on the European University Networks initiative

During its General Assembly of 12 and 13 June, ACA adopted a Position Paper on the new European University Networks (EUNs), which originated from a proposal of French President Emanuel Macron in autumn 2017 at the Sorbonne and has resulted in a European Commission (EC) Communication and in a Council Resolution since. The same EUNs also figure in the EC proposal for a Regulation on the 2021-2027 Erasmus Programme, which this newsletter briefly commented on in its May 2018 edition. 

The ACA Position Paper requests that the networks’ main aim is to produce excellence. Excellence, however, is not only world class research, but there can also be excellence in education and in the ‘third’ mission. This broad view of excellence goes hand-in-glove with an inclusive, diverse and non-elitist approach. The Position Paper further encourages the EC and the EU institutions generally to be open to ‘radically innovative ideas’, in order for this initiative not to produce ‘more of the same’ (i.e. double funding formats the present Erasmus+ and the future Erasmus (from 2021 on). 

The Paper supports the EC's proposal for this initiative to be geographically balanced, i.e. to fund consortia with higher education institutions (HEIs) from the North and South as well as the East and West of Europe. ACA expects the EUNs to be open to HEIs from beyond member states, and, particularly, from the ‘programme countries’. The programmes operated by the networks should have a truly global perspective and be open to students from all over the world

ACA reminds the European institutions that the huge ambitions of this project must be mirrored by adequate funding. Funding levels should be oriented to those applied in the various ‘excellence initiatives’ in EU member countries in the last decade. By no means can the high ambitions be achieved by funding ‘on a shoe-string’. 

Link to ACA position paper