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On 17 May 2021, the Council adopted conclusions on the European Universities initiative (EUI) - Bridging higher education, research, innovation and society: paving the way for a new dimension in European higher education. Following the two pilot calls in 2019 and 2020, the EUI will be fully rolled out under the Erasmus+ programme 2021-2027 and Horizon Europe, in line with the envisaged synergies with other programmes.
With their conclusions, ministers reconfirm the central role of the initiative to building a European Education Area by 2025 and to spearheading European higher education transformation, while delivering among others on the ambitious student mobility targets. Ministers call for scaling up the initiative so that “the reforms, outputs and innovations triggered by the ‘European Universities’ are fully accessible for those that do not participate in these alliances”. According to the Council, further development of ‘European Universities’ will require tapping into all available funding possibilities, including the Recovery and Resilience Facility, European Structural and Investment Funds, Horizon Europe and InvestEU as well as national and regional co-funding mechanisms.
Ministers also recommend more cooperation between all higher education actors to identify and remove obstacles towards “more compatible higher education systems and closer strategic alliances of higher education institutions”. Measures proposed to move forward in this respect include among others the possibility of introducing joint European degrees and implementing joint recruitment schemes for teachers and researchers aimed at effective “multidirectional” and “balanced” brain circulation across Europe.
The European Commission is currently consulting an ad hoc group of stakeholders on the key implementation parameters for the full roll-out of the EUI, including future funding and widening participation modalities set for the initiative. The results of the mid-term review of the first alliances will support this work by the end of 2021. ACA is part of this comprehensive co-creation process, providing input from the perspective of mobility and other internationalisation activities fostered by its members.