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MICHE – European Universities Initiative through the national lens

At the end of January 2022, the Czech National Agency for International Education and Research (DZS) completed, on behalf of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MEYS) the first stage of a pilot project looking into the relevance and transformation potential of participation of domestic universities into the European Universities Initiative (EUI) for the national-level internationalisation strategy and for the national higher education system. Czech Republic is presently one of the European Union (EU) member states that co-funds the participation of national higher education institutions – four in the case of Czech Republic to date – in selected European Universities alliances.

The pilot, which started in the first half of 2021, was organised under the framework of the ongoing Monitoring Internationalisation of Czech Higher Education (MICHEproject, which has been running in Czech Republic since 2018, and through which selected higher education institutions have received expert advice on enhancing their strategic approaches to internationalization and on improving related monitoring processes.

In the 2021 pilot, a team of six experts – Daniel Casten, Irina Ferencz, Alenka Flander, Katrin Kiisler, Annika Sundbäck-Lindroos and Péter Tordai – zoomed into the participation of Charles University, Prague in the 4EU+ alliance and of Masaryk University, Brno in the EDUC alliance, both selected in the first pilot call of EUI. Through a self-assessment survey and report, a site visit, a follow up report and validation workshop, the team looked at how the two universities strategically projected and executed their activities in the respective EUI alliances, at the emerging changes that alliance participation initiated internally and at how those compared to participation in other strategic partnerships, and at the potential for spill-over of alliance-related activities to other areas of international cooperation of the universities, in line with their institutional strategies and missions. Overall, the team also looked into what could be further done at the national level to support more higher education institutions in benefiting from EUI participation – directly and indirectly, providing recommendations on how to address the challenges identified to maximise impact on the sector.