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On 27 July, the European Commission published the results of the 2022 Erasmus+ call for the European Universities Initiative (EUI). This call covered two topics supporting prior institutional cooperation (mainly for those alliances funded through the 2019 call) and new collaborations.
Overall, EUR 272 million will be allocated from the Erasmus+ programme to fund 16 existing European Universities and four new alliances. In total, 340 higher education institutions from 31 countries currently participate in 44 European Universities alliances supported in the three calls.
All but one consortium successful in the 2019 call have managed to secure EU funding for the next four years, with a possibility to get it prolonged for the last two years of the programme. Out of 21 applications submitted under the first activity line, 3 were qualified as ineligible and 16 were retained for funding, with a spectacular 89% success rate. The latter reflects the political commitment to guarantee sustainable funding for the ongoing initiatives and the convincing outcomes achieved by the European Universities so far.
The existing alliances expanded to 28 new partners in total, which on average is slightly less than 2 new partner institutions per alliance. This development reflects a cautiously open, pragmatic approach, responding to the Commission’s incentive to open up to a broader number of institutions, without too much of a disruption to the ongoing in-depth collaboration. Four renewed European Universities created their own legal entities to piggyback on a new possibility to test the legal statute.
Competition among the new alliances was particularly tough. Only four new European Universities were selected for funding from 31 submitted applications, with 13% success rate. This outcome re-confirmed the universities’ great – but largely unsatisfied by the 2022 call – interest in the Initiative, as predicted in ACA’s position paper. The new alliances demonstrate great diversity with many university colleges and universities of applied sciences as partners as well as with partners from smaller, less represented countries in the first two calls such as Bulgaria, Croatia, and Malta as well as Iceland.
According to the DAAD report, Germany is the top runner in absolute terms, with 22 higher education institutions taking part in the 19 newly funded European Universities, closely followed by France (21) and Spain (18).
One of the novelties of the 2022 call was opening up to interested institutions from the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). This opportunity has been largely used by four flagship Swiss universities whose participation in four European Universities will be funded nationally by the Swiss government. Switzerland’s mirroring support provided through ACA member Movetia to enable such participation reflects the country’s commitment to close cooperation with the EU in the field of higher education while being of utmost importance to the success of the Initiative itself and the quality of its outcomes. The Swiss association to Erasmus+ and Horizon Europe remains the key imperative for collaboration.
While it is expected that the 2023 call will structurally be quite similar to this year’s one, it would be important to take these outcomes into account and to ensure a fair participation of all kinds of institutions to avoid the impression the later it gets the harder to join. This requires, among others, balancing expectations of the aspiring partnerships which invest significant resources in the preparation stage.