We are pleased to announce the publication of the report “Practices at Coimbra Group Universities in response to the COVID-19 – A Collective Reflection on the Present and Future of Higher Education in Europe”.
This report is the result of a network-wide consultation as well as intense internal brainstorming sessions that have been carried out during the past two months following a perceived need from our member universities to exchange experiences and practices.
It provides a snapshot of responses of Coimbra Group universities – as of April 2020 – in a range of diverse contexts and offers food for thought and recommendations on a number of issues related to higher education internationalisation, teaching and learning, doctoral education and research and innovation. What stands out overall is the agility of universities’ reaction to the unexpected and sudden challenges and their flexibility in terms of adjustment of protocols.
We would like to warmly thank all our members for their contribution to this collective reflection and we hope that you will enjoy the reading.
Key takeaway messages from discussions between Coimbra Group task group on post-Brexit UK-EU exchange & relevant stakeholders
30 April 2021
Daniel Donoghue, Member of the Executive Board (Durham University); Emmanuelle Gardan, Office Director (Coimbra Group); Dorota Maciejowska, Chair of Academic Exchange & Mobility Working Group (Jagiellonian University in Kraków); Catarina Moleiro, Policy and Communications Officer (Coimbra Group); Ludovic Thilly, Chair of the Coimbra Group Executive Board (University of Poitiers); Luca Verzichelli, Member of the Executive Board (University of Siena)
The UK is no longer an EU Member State. It has also opted not to take part as an associated third country in the new Erasmus+ programme 2021-2027. The UK will therefore not be taking part in the new programme as a Programme Country (EC 2021).
The terms of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement implies that the UK will be a non-associated third country in the Erasmus+ programme 2021-2027. This means the UK will only be able to participate in the Jean Monnet activities and Erasmus Mundus joint masters programmes as these are not limited to Member States and Associated Third Countries.
On behalf of all Coimbra Group (CG) member institutions, the task group on post-Brexit UK-EU exchange has consulted widely on the implications of the UK’s decision for student and staff exchanges and for academic partnerships. Our findings are summarised as follows:
2. Short-term implications and issues (2021-2023)
Multi-annual Erasmus+ programmes that were funded when the UK was a Member State will continue to operate to completion. In many cases, bilateral exchanges will take place until the academic year 2022/23 allowing a short period to consider the future of exchanges between Coimbra Group Universities and the UK. After that alternative formal arrangements (legal agreements) will need to put in place to facilitate student and staff exchanges.
In December 2020 the UK government announced funding of over £100 million for a new scheme to allow approximately 35,000 students in universities, colleges and schools to go on placements and exchanges overseas, starting in September 2021 (which may mean around £60-70 million for higher education). At present, the Turing Scheme has been allocated resources for one year in the first instance and has a stated aim of targeting students from disadvantaged backgrounds and exchanges not previously covered by Erasmus+ as it includes all countries. The window for application for UK providers opened on 12 March 2021. Results are expected to be issued in July 2021. Should there be sufficient funding available after the first round of applications, a second call may be launched in 2021.
EU Institutions should note that the Turing Scheme only funds outward mobility for UK students. The Turing scheme provides no funding for reciprocity (inward mobility). Reciprocity is allowed (and encouraged) but not funded through the Turing Scheme. The focus is on student mobility; staff mobility would only be possible if it were needed to facilitate the special needs of a student.
Inward (to the UK) mobility will be affected by the following changes:
– Higher Education EU students will be liable to UK University fees unless a fee waiver has been negotiated as part of a bi-lateral exchange agreement.
– A visitor may study for up to 6 months without a visa but for study periods longer than 6 months EU nationals will be required to obtain a Study Visa and must meet all the following requirements:
(a) any fee and Immigration Health Charge must have been paid (this will be refunded for European Health Insurance Card holders); and
(b) the applicant must have provided any required biometrics; and
(c) the applicant must have provided a passport or other travel document which satisfactorily establishes their identity and nationality; and
(d) the applicant must provide a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies reference number that was issued to them by the UK university no more than 6 months before the date of application.
– Other points raised by consultees in relation to the Turing Scheme:
- Inequality – the highest ranked Universities may be most successful and have highest mobilities;
- Cultural aspects of mobility may be lost if mostly English speaking destinations are preferred;
- There is a risk of an Eastern vs Western European divide in future EU-UK mobility flows;
- If each EU university must deal individually with each UK institution there will be a huge bureaucratic overhead;
- The programme may lack resilience if no resource is made available for staff mobility to help develop long-term high-quality partnerships;
- There is no support for youth and sporting associations;
- There is no possibility of an inter-network agreement; the scheme is based on bilateral arrangements between each UK university and other HE Institutions. We wonder if it will be possible in the future for one UK university to sign a multilateral agreement with willing CG Universities?
- The scheme is flexible in the sense that UK universities are free to decide upon the geographical distribution, specific programmes (e.g. modern languages) etc. However, being a demand-led scheme with no target countries, there is a risk that EU countries such as Germany, Italy, Spain or France, will lose incoming UK students;
- In the period of transition, Turing will be complementary to Erasmus+ (no possibility of double funding of any mobilities);
- Turing actively supports widening participation (which refers to students from less advantaged backgrounds and those with special education needs and disabilities).
3. Long-term issues (post-2023)
One of the most challenging aspects of The Turing Scheme in its current form is the uncertainty that surrounds post-2021/22 funding and the implications for UK-EU mobility when UK Erasmus+ funding ends post-2023. We will not know whether multi-year funding will be allocated to the UK Turing Scheme until the outcome of the UK Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review is completed, hopefully by October 2021.
The UK Department for Education will undertake a review of the first year of the Turing Scheme but we don’t know how this will be done and whether it will result in any significant changes to its remit and priorities? For example, will short or longer visits be favoured? What level of resource will be allocated to HE compared with further education (FE) and schools? Will language-related mobility be looked on favourably?
Whatever the Turing Scheme brings in the future, it is clear that the UK will have a confusing mix of opportunities for mobility because:
- HE students in Northern Ireland will be able to participate in Erasmus by registering through an HE institution in the Republic of Ireland.
- In Wales, Education is a devolved responsibility of the Welsh Government who have allocated £65 million for the period 2022-2026 for a new International learning Exchange Programme. This programme will allow reciprocal exchange and will operate in a similar way to the existing Erasmus+ programme where funding is available for both incoming and outgoing student exchange. 15,000 outbound and 10,000 inbound mobilities are targeted. Note that the programme covers learners, educators and administrators.
- The Scottish Government are looking at options for running a scheme similar to that in Wales. Differences between Turing and opportunities in Northern Ireland and Wales may raise confusion as for the reciprocity vs. non reciprocity aspect; students & staff vs. only student mobility. The Welsh scheme will start from September 2022/2023, Turing starts 2021/2022.
- The European Commission declined the request from Scotland earlier this year to become associated to the Erasmus+ programme. This option is ruled out for individual regions within a country. At the same time, the EU is open to negotiate should the United Kingdom reconsider its position on Erasmus+ in the future.
4. TURING and complementarity to Erasmus+ 2021-2027
- The Universities of Edinburgh and Durham did not apply in this year’s Turing scheme for funding for mobility with EU partners. All their Turing awards will be allocated to non-EU countries. The Erasmus+ grant covering mobility with EU partners will be continued until May 2023.
- The Universities of Edinburgh and Durham have given assurance that after the Erasmus+ grant ends in May 2023, ongoing study grants will continue uninterrupted until the end of the academic year 2022/2023 (until September 2023).
- Up to 20% of Erasmus+ Key Action 1 (KA1) funds awarded to higher education mobility projects can be used to support outgoing mobility of students and staff to any partner countries in the world (the UK is covered under “Region 14” – Faroe Islands, Switzerland, United Kingdom). However, higher education institutions are expected to allocate these resources to the widest possible geographic scope and not restrict it to just the UK. The European Commission has made it clear it would carefully monitor this. However, there is no clear position on this matter among Erasmus National Agencies. For example, for the next academic year Uppsala University plans to dedicate all 20% of KA1 grants to partners in the UK and Switzerland. This will be possible because all EU universities, due to COVID-19 outbreak, still have relevant resources for student and staff mobility from the year 2020 due to the huge reduction in mobilities during the pandemic.
- Partner Countries are eligible for the new Erasmus+ Blended Intensive Programmes but using their own funding. In this programme, at least three HEIs from Programme Countries must be involved. The UK could participate as an extra Partner Country by using funds from the Turing Scheme to support the physical part of mobility, and other resources for virtual components (at present the Turing scheme does not support virtual mobility). CG members could apply jointly with the UK partners for this kind of grant to promote and enhance new forms of cooperation.
- CG UK partners are concerned that the Turing Scheme might not continue to be funded in the medium to long term. They are also concerned that it might be restricted in its scope and only used as a vehicle for widening participation.
- CG UK partners are aware that the volume of mobility, both incoming and outgoing, may reduce substantially when the UK withdraws completely from the Erasmus+ Programme.
- CG UK partners note that different schemes for mobility will exist in different parts of the UK and that, when these new schemes take effect, strong advocacy will be needed to help shape what will be a much changed landscape for exchange and mobility.
- The CG UK partners are encouraged that they can still participate in the Jean Monnet and Erasmus Mundus Actions.
5. National Agreements
Will national ministries/agencies offer special grants or other forms of support for mobility to UK universities or will there be a movement to other English-speaking countries? This will depend on the policies of individual nation states and national education agencies.
- Germany: The DAAD announced in March 2021 ten propositions to create a new normality in academic exchange with the UK. Negotiations on cooperation models and waiver of fees are already under way at various levels. The DAAD also announced they were working to develop alternative access routes and financing models for students by 2023. Some DAAD third country programmes should be opened to cooperation with UK institutions. This applies both to scholarship programmes after the end of Erasmus and to the funding of exchange projects based on grant agreements to German higher education institutions. Discussions are still ongoing.
- Poland: The Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange offers a number of short-term and mid-term mobilities for PhD students as well as academic staff (Programmes like PROM, Becker, Ullam, Academic Partnerships). It refers to UK universities as well, although it is not dedicated uniquely to UK partners. Due to Brexit, the National Agency is considering launching a new programme dedicated to student mobility to the UK.
- Italy: The March 2021 meeting of Italian rectors (CRUI) stressed the importance of future cooperation with the UK and announced that a draft cooperative agreement with the British Council is being prepared.
- Other countries: We are aware that other EU countries are interested in bilateral exchange agreements but there is nothing formal to report at this point. The focus for the moment is on ensuring the end of the Erasmus+ funding and initial year of Turing go well and that host institutions have the information they need.
6. Modern European Languages Programmes that include a compulsory year abroad present a particular set of difficulties:
Degree programmes in modern European languages and cultures face particular uncertainties with the loss of the Erasmus+ programme that helped underpin a compulsory year abroad. Student starting a degree in academic year 21/22 have no certainty that resources are available to support their year abroad starting in Sept or Oct 2023. This will also be a worry for universities trying to recruit home students for the academic year 21/22 and for students making degree programme choices without certainty over year abroad funding. Modern language departments in the UK benefit hugely from incoming students and, while the Turing Scheme might sustain some outward mobility it will not support incoming students thereby risking a substantial imbalance between outgoing and incoming exchange students.
- Erasmus+ Key Action 103 allows 20% of funds to be used flexibly for mobility to any destination (ESN will advocate to use part of these 20% to mobility to the UK), in fact only a low percentage can be used for UK partners (due to the requirement to demonstrate geographical distribution among regions);
- There many be an evolution of the format of mobility with a transition from full year abroad to shorter mobilities, summer schools, and blended virtual and actual mobility. Many universities may consider enhancing virtual exchange opportunities to compensate real mobility;
- We note that the EU allows for visa waivers for conferences or unpaid work for 180 days (6 months) which will assist with some forms of short-term mobility;
- Joint masters: UK institutions can join, but also lead consortia;
- Erasmus Mundus Design Measures: new sub-action, supporting design of high-level study programmes at master level (single lump sum of 55.000€/consortium);
- Participation of UK institutions is also possible in Erasmus+ Key Action 2 – Cooperation Partnerships and Alliances for Innovation (Forward Looking Projects);
7. Comments from CG UK members (Bristol, Durham and Edinburgh)
These headline points relate to the University of Edinburgh’s (UoE) Erasmus participation and performance noting that over the duration of the Erasmus programme (since 1987), Bristol, Durham & Edinburgh have sent well over 7,000 students to study and work in Europe through Erasmus.
- UoE has over 250 student exchange agreements with European partner institutions in over 20 countries.
- UoE is the number one UK study destination for inbound Erasmus students and has one of the largest UK cohorts of outbound students.
- UoE has been the largest UK recipient of Erasmus+ student and staff mobility funding in recent years.
- UoE’s current Erasmus+ award for the 2020/21 project year is €4.1M (to support both European and international mobility) – this project has been extended until May 2023 meaning that UoE can continue to fund its outgoing students until then.
8. Concluding concerns and considerations:
- Erasmus+ has been the key framework that has supported students on Modern European Languages programmes who have a mandatory year abroad requirement. There is no prioritisation of mandatory study/work abroad through Turing.
- One of the key objectives of Turing is Widening Participation. For example, only about 7% of University of Edinburgh outbound European exchange students qualify for the supplementary “Widening Participation” Erasmus grant. This could negatively impact on the amount Edinburgh and other leading UK universities are awarded.
- The Turing Scheme’s lack of inward mobility has resulted in the perception that the benefits are one-sided and that there are no incentives for EU students or institutions to engage.
- Many organisations including universities, the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) and the British Council are particularly concerned about maintaining already established and long- lasting partnerships with EU institutions;
- The ESN will undertake to raise awareness among students about the Turing Programme, and communicate to UK students that there are alternatives to Anglophone countries;
- If the Turing scheme does not include short-term staff exchange after 2023, will the UK universities accept outgoing staff from EU Universities within the Erasmus+ scheme?
- There is no legal framework for creating/re-negotiating partnerships under Turing – to avoid further frustrating / alienating EU partners, a standard UK-wide agreement template is suggested. The University of Nottingham announced at a recent Universities UK International (UUKi) webinar that they were initiating conversations around creating such a template.
- The new Erasmus+ Programme foresees only outgoing mobilities both for EU countries as well as worldwide. Previously the Erasmus+ Key Action 107 for Partner Countries offered funding for outgoing and incoming. Now it will be harder to manage mobilities outside the EU (UK included). What’s more, EU higher education institutions will have fewer outgoing mobilities to the UK than previously and they will not be able to prioritise the UK as a destination due to the criterion of geographical distribution.
- UK institutions may need to work with their partners to identify creative solutions for different types of engagement beyond standard reciprocal exchanges – e.g. summer schools, short exchange and study programmes.
- To ensure outward opportunities for students, the UK universities need to be proactive in ensuring that EU partners choose UK study destinations for their outbound students. While Turing is not a like-for-like Erasmus replacement post-Brexit, with appropriate lobbying it could evolve into a scheme that allows for bilateral exchange.
- The Coimbra Group can help to promote constructive dialogue between the UK Government (Department for Education), the EU, UUKi, British Council, ESN and its member universities about the Turing scheme. Such advocacy will help to promote a constructive two-way exchange of information and views to assist the UK to develop a Turing Scheme that embracing best practice in reciprocity, staff mobility, equality and inclusion for all students.
List of people consulted by the CG task group (March-April 2021)
Mr Alex BARKER
Policy Adviser, Turing Scheme, International Higher Education Division, UK Department for Education
Ms Caroline BLONDELL
Project Officer, Turing Scheme, International Higher Education Division, UK Department for Education
Ms Almut CASPARY
Higher Education and Science Lead for the EU Region, British Council
Ms Vanessa DEBIAIS-SAINTON
Head of Unit, Higher education (EAC.B.1), Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture, European Commission
Mr Filip Van DEPOELE
Head of Unit, International Cooperation (EAC.C.3), Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture, European Commission
Mr Kostis GIANNIDIS
President, Erasmus Student Network
Prof Claire GORRARA
Chair of the University Council of Modern Languages (UCML) and Professor of French, Cardiff University
Ms Naquita LEWIS
Implementation Manager for the Turing Scheme and the Higher Education Lead for the Erasmus+ programme in the UK, British Council (has left her position since then)
Ms Vivienne STERN
Director, Universities UK International
Prof Janet STEWART
Executive Dean (Arts and Humanities), Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Durham University
Mr Matthew WILLIAMS
Policy Adviser on International Engagement, Turing Scheme, International Higher Education Division, UK Department for Education
Coimbra Group Academic Exchange & Mobility Working Group members
Career services in times of Covid-19: Challenges, Responses and Best Practices
29 March 2021
The Coimbra Group is pleased to announce the publication of the report “Career services in times of Covid-19: Challenges, Responses and Best Practices”, developed within our Employability Working Group.
Covid-19 has changed the setting of the labour market, impacting also on students’ employability. It required University career services to deal in a new way with students and recruiters.
This report draws on the experiences of career services in Coimbra Group universities from across Europe, in responding to the challenges and opportunities created for students, graduates, employers and staff. It supports knowledge and practice sharing and underscores the position of career services at the nexus of student, university and employer relations.
“The crisis highlighted the unique and important role of career services in being the connector between employers, students and academia during this difficult time. Our added-value as facilitators and connectors gained traction during this time of isolation and career services more than ever have provided inclusive services, and ensured help for those students whose areas of work were particularly impacted by the crisis. EU policy makers should support employment, employability and career services within Universities in order to avoid a scenario in which the Covid-19 graduates becomes a lost generation in the labour market.”
Coimbra Group Statement on UK’s withdrawal from the Erasmus+ programme
14 January 2021
In light of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the new Erasmus+ programme, and given the significant engagement of Coimbra Group Universities in this flagship EU programme since its inception, the Coimbra Group places the utmost importance and urgency to secure, and further advocate for new alternative schemes that would facilitate student and staff exchange with our UK partners and minimize as much as possible the impact of the decision of the British government for our universities, academic and administrative staff and students.
We express our strongest support to all UK universities. We assure them that we are ready to build on our longstanding collective experience, with a view to mitigate, where possible, the impacts of Erasmus+ agreement terminations in mid-2023 and address any challenges that may arise until then.
The expertise and capacity of the Academic Exchange and Mobility (AEM) Working Group is crucial in this regard. It is the intention of the Coimbra Group to closely monitor the new situation and future developments and, whenever possible, build on the knowledge acquired through its own instrument, the Student Exchange Network (SEN).
We call for immediate action from the European Institutions and the national Ministries for Higher Education to help universities mitigating the impact of this unilateral decision from the British government. We believe that it is our duty to ensure that students, academic and administrative staff at higher education institutions do not suffer from the consequences of a purely political decision. We plead for a solidarity-based approach.
Coimbra Group Statement on the Multiannual financial framework (MFF)
26 October 2020
As new rounds of negotiations are set to take place this week between the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission on the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), the Coimbra Group, representing 41 long-established European comprehensive, multidisciplinary universities, reiterates its call to EU and national leaders to reach an agreement that ensures appropriate funding is allocated to the EU flagship programmes Erasmus+ and Horizon Europe to meet the societal needs of the time.
“We feel the need to recall that the future of Europe will crucially depend on the support given to its young people and their commitment to the further development of Europe. We therefore once again call on the EU institutions as well as on national policy makers to strengthen their investment in Knowledge, in particular in education and research” (read our past statement here).
Prof Thilly, Chair of the Executive Board, reaffirms that “any additional cut to an already low budget allocated to Horizon Europe is further jeopardizing the EU capacity to properly respond to the current and future crises.” He warns that “education, research and innovation must be safeguarded – not recognizing this is just a populist short-sighted view!”
In line with its long-standing advocacy for ambitious budgets for higher education, research and innovation, the Coimbra Group welcomes and strongly supports:
- the common statement published on 21 October by the national rectors’ conferences in Germany (HRK), Austria (UNIKO) and The Netherlands (VSNU), representing 9 Coimbra Group member universities: “Last chance to invest in European higher education and research”;
- the statement made on 19 October by Christian Ehler, Member of the European Parliament (European People’s Party) and Rapporteur for Horizon Europe, calling on the EU Heads of State and Government to “match the Green and Digital goals with a budget fit for this age”.
In July 2020, fifteen European associations of universities – among which the Coimbra Group – representing more than 800 universities in Europe, united and called on European leaders to step up investment in excellent, cross-border research, education and innovation, both in the Multiannual Financial Framework from 2021 to 2027 and Next Generation EU, and to commit to putting sufficient resources behind common ambitions (#EUInvestInKnowledge).
Coimbra Group Position Paper on Digital Education Action Plan
11 September 2020
The Coimbra Group has submitted a position paper in reply to the European Commission public consultation on the new Digital Education Action Plan.
This consultation was seeking to gather the views of citizens and stakeholders on their experiences and expectations during the COVID-19 crisis (both to-date and in the recovery period), as well as their visions for the future of digital education.
This paper is largely on the basis of our May report Practices at Coimbra Group Universities in response to the COVID-19 – A Collective Reflection on the Present and Future of Higher Education in Europe.
14 July 2020
Fifteen European associations of universities – among which the Coimbra Group – unite and call on European leaders to step up investment in excellent, cross-border research, education and innovation, both in the Multiannual Financial Framework from 2021 to 2027 and Next Generation EU, and to commit to putting sufficient resources behind common ambitions.
Together, the initiative’s signatories represent more than 800 universities in Europe, committed to create a better future for Europe and its citizens. The 15 associations have united before for the campaign “Seize our common future”, calling for an ambitious long-term EU budget for research, innovation and education to boost efforts to solve the manifold future challenges.
“Both Horizon Europe and Erasmus+ are investments in our future and in our youth. They will reinforce Europe’s capacities to face today’s challenges, and those yet to come. Such challenges may take various forms and solutions will require mobilising various types of knowledge, citizens, and society” says the document released today. “We, universities of Europe, urge European leaders to step up investment in research, innovation and education to foster longterm strategic resilience, enabling Europe to strongly reinforce its role as a global leader in this respect.”
The Chair of the Coimbra Group Executive Board believes that “any additional cut to an already low budget allocated to Horizon Europe is further jeopardizing EU capacity to properly respond to the current and future crises.” Ludovic Thilly warns that “education, research and innovation must be safeguarded – not recognizing this is just a populist short-sighted view!”
Joint statement from Coimbra Group Rectors’ Advisory Group and Executive Board on the next European Multiannual Financial Framework and the recovery instrument “Next Generation EU”
16 June 2020
The Coimbra Group welcomes the recent proposal for the next European Multiannual Financial Framework and the recovery instrument, “Next Generation EU”. It commends in particular the specific top-up allocated to the Horizon Europe programme. We would, however, wish to express our great concerns about the missing explicit support, in the recovery instrument, for Education and specifically the Erasmus+ programme. We feel the need to recall that the future of Europe will crucially depend on the support given to its young people and their commitment to the further development of Europe. We therefore once again call on the EU institutions as well as on national policy makers to strengthen their investment in Knowledge, in particular in education and research, and ask for a more ambitious budget plan which includes both Horizon Europe and Erasmus+ programmes in the pool of recovery instruments.
16 June 2020
The Coimbra Group Rectors‘ Advisory Group
Patrick Gilli, Rector of University Paul-Valery Montpellier 3, Honorary President
Tomáš Zima, Rector of Charles University in Prague
Wojciech Nowak, Rector of Jagiellonian University in Kraków
Rosario Rizzuto, Rector of the University of Padova
Luc Sels, Rector of KU Leuven
Pilar Aranda Ramírez, Rector of the University of Granada
Stuart Corbridge, Vice-Chancellor and Warden of Durham University
The Coimbra Group Executive Board
Ludovic Thilly (University of Poitiers), Chair
Jürgen Barkhoff (Trinity College Dublin), Vice-Chair
Cláudia Cavadas (University of Coimbra)
Daniel Donoghue (Durham University)
Johnny Laursen (Aarhus University)
Dorota Malec (Jagiellonian University in Kraków)
Lenka Rovná (Charles University in Prague)
Efrem Yildiz Sadak (University of Salamanca)
Elmer Sterken (University of Groningen)
Luca Verzichelli (University of Siena)
PDF version of the statement :
Coimbra Group Universities’ responses to the COVID-19 emergency
29 May 2020
We are pleased to announce the publication of the report “Practices at Coimbra Group Universities in response to the COVID-19 – A Collective Reflection on the Present and Future of Higher Education in Europe”.
Virtual Exchange at Coimbra Group Universities
29 May 2020
The Chair of the Coimbra Group Education Innovation Working Group, Francesca Helm (University of Padova), has produced a report on Virtual Exchange (VE) at Coimbra Group Universities. The document draws on the Case Study report from the EVOLVE project (where the Coimbra Group is also a team member).
The final chapter is dedicated to “Possible Futures for Virtual Exchange for the Coimbra Group network” and it includes a few proposals for a greater involvement of the Coimbra Group in Virtual Exchange. These ideas compile also the exchanges between the Education Innovation Working Group and other CG groups, such as Academic Exchange and Mobility, and Development Cooperation.
Coimbra Group statement on resignation of ERC President
09 April 2020
The Coimbra Group expresses full support to the ERC’s Scientific Council after the announcement of the resignation of ERC President, Prof. Mauro Ferrari, on 7 April. In a statement published on 8 April, the members of the Scientific Council explain the reasons that led to the unanimous request that Prof. Ferrari resigns from his position, on 27 March.
In the current difficult times where basic research is, once again, demonstrating its key role in solving societal challenges, the successful European instruments must be safeguarded: the ERC with its bottom-up support for excellent fundamental research, is the most effective and important one.
The Coimbra Group applauds the European Commission for its recent initiatives promoting a true European solidarity against COVID-19: openness and solidarity have never been so important and will remain key for ensuring the resilience of Europe and European citizens now and in the future. In this challenge, Education, Research and Innovation will have roles of paramount importance: the Coimbra Group, composed of comprehensive research-led universities with strong civic missions, will continue to promote knowledge, collegiality, scientific integrity and solidarity at the service of society.
9 April 2020
The Coimbra Group Executive Board
Prof. Ludovic Thilly (University of Poitiers), Chair
Prof. Jürgen Barkhoff (Trinity College Dublin)
Prof. Claudia Cavadas (University of Coimbra)
Prof. Daniel Donoghue (Durham University)
Prof. Johnny Laursen (Aarhus University)
Prof. Dorota Malec (Jagiellonian University in Kraków)
Prof. Lenka Rovna (Charles University – Prague)
Prof. Efrem Yildiz Sadak (University of Salamanca)
Prof. Elmer Sterken (University of Groningen)
Prof. Luca Verzichelli (University of Siena)
Download the PDF version of the statementhere.
Coimbra Group Statement on BREXIT
31 January 2019
As part of the follow-up to the meeting of the Rectors’ Advisory Board with the Executive Board on 25 January, the two bodies agree to issue a statement on behalf of the Coimbra Group on the BREXIT process, in particular to express full support to our UK colleagues and partners.
CG statement on the Bologna Process
24 April 2018
Following the debate at the High-Level Seminar “Lifelong Learning and Employability” on 24 January 2018 in Brussels, the Executive Board of the Coimbra Group initiated a discussion on the Bologna Process and current developments in higher education, notably in European Union policies. After consultation with the Rectors’ Advisory Group and Rectors at the thirty-nine member universities, the Executive Board offers the following statement on the occasion of the forthcoming EHEA2018, the Ministerial Conference of Ministers of Education of the forty-eight countries participating in the Bologna Process, to take place in Paris on 24-25 May this year.
21 March 2018 joint statement on the MFF
21 March 2018
CG statement on European Universities Networks
12 February 2018
The Coimbra Group Executive Board has released a statement on European Universities Networks. “The Coimbra Group Executive Board calls for urgent clarification of the concept of “European Universities Networks”. (…) Existing Higher Education networks have a crucial role to play at European level in facilitating effective cooperation based on their extensive accumulated experience and expertise. Furthermore, we recognise the need for a specific funding mechanism whereby networks can participate, in collaboration with other stakeholders, in specific supporting actions in order to facilitate these “consortia” or to enhance other aspects of the modernisation and innovation agendas relevant to smaller in-depth partnerships between universities.”
CG position paper on FP9
10 October 2017
The Coimbra Group has published its policy paper
The paper emphasises the importance of a robust and comprehensive future Framework Programme to maintain and strengthen the position of the EU as an effective and competitive knowledge economy. Researchers and innovators are key actors in the knowledge economy and it is imperative that a modernised EU budget ensures and intensifies support of research and innovation. The ninth Framework programme must have excellence at its heart, be international and include the full spectrum of research disciplines and fields. Closer links between the higher education and the research and innovation programmes must be developed and strengthened to ensure knowledge transfer to and from new generations of researchers and innovators.
A First Response from the CG to the Lamy Report
31 August 2017
In September 2016 Carlos Moedas, the EU Commissioner for research, science and innovation, mandated a 12-person high-level expert group led by former WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy to set out a vision on how to maximise the impact of future EU R&I programme. The expert group, drawn from academia, industry, and government, was mandated to make recommendations intended to influence the Horizon 2020 work programme 2018-2020 and post-Horizon 2020 FP9. On 3 July 2017, the expert group chaired by Pascal Lamy published its “Lab-Fab-App” report on maximising the impact of EU R&I programme. Read the Coimbra Group’s first response to this report.
CG Position Paper on Erasmus+
23 May 2017
The Coimbra Group contribution to the mid-term evaluation of the European Commission’s Erasmus+ Programme is published today on 23 May 2017.
The Expert Group underlines both successes and challenges in the paper and draws attention to “The established and respected status of Erasmus+ in Europe (and beyond) [which] comes with responsibilities for this programme. No other programme has such huge potential to shape academic exchanges – their content and their dimensionality. Consequently, Erasmus+ has the responsibility to address the major problems and challenges of Europe. Education, academic life, academic exchanges have never brought immediate solutions to urgent or long-term threats, but they have always paved the way towards successful and comprehensive long-term solutions.”
CG interim evaluation of Horizon 2020
11 January 2017
The Coimbra Group has submitted a response to the European Commission’s interim evaluation of the Horizon 2020 programme.
“Horizon 2020 has made significant contributions to European research, innovation, growth and job creation. The commitment of the EU to support excellent research, addressing the societal challenges and supporting innovation through funding of research is laudable. Horizon 2020 has been and should continue to be an investment in the future of Europe and not an expense. The Coimbra Group supports the opportunities provided by the three-pillar approach of Horizon 2020, and we acknowledge the simplification processes achieved in Horizon 2020, including the faster turnaround time to contract, the single cost model for reimbursement of cost and the improvements made through the Participant Portal. Horizon 2020 has provided significantly added value which could not have been achieved through national activities alone. Consequently, the most important contribution the EU can make would be to boost investments in research and innovation in order to ensure sustainable growth for Europe. On the occasion of the mid-term review of the Horizon 2020 framework programme, the Coimbra Group wishes to take stock of the first two work programmes of Horizon 2020, taking into account the previous recommendations issued in 2013 and 2015 in our position papers. In particular, with members of our pan-European network being universities of high-level multidisciplinary research, special attention will be paid to the representation of all disciplines in projects financed by the Horizon 2020 programme. The present Coimbra Group contribution will focus on 9 areas of recommendation.”
Monitoring the Horizon 2020 Application and Evaluation Process
08 August 2016
The Executive Board of the Coimbra Group is pleased to publish the Monitoring note as one of the outcomes of our high-level seminar on research policies held on 30-31 October last year: “Horizons 2015: First Experiences, Emerging Expectations”; Horizon 2020 from the perspective of European Research Universities. The note is produced by research support officers at Coimbra Group Universities, responsible for the handling of Horizon 2020 applications at their individual universities.
It is our hope that the note can contribute to the further development of the Horizon 2020 Programme and the updating of evaluation and assessment procedures.
Another initiative taken by the research support officers is a seminar on impact, which will be held at Aarhus University in May. Further information will be available mid-April.
Monitoring the Horizon 2020 Application and Evaluation Process
Letter from EU commissioner Carlos Moedasin response to CG note on Monitoring the Horizon 2020 Application and Evaluation Process
CG position paper on U-Multirank today
05 August 2016
The CG has published a position paper on the current state of U-Multirank.
Executive Summary. Among the ever growing supply of commercial benchmark tools and league tables of higher education institutions, U-Multirank is conceptually superior in its efforts to compare alike with alike, in its broad set of indicators and its possibility to compare at both institution and subject level, based on any combination of indicators preferred by the user. In its implementation, however, present-day U-Multirank suffers from severe weaknesses, which prevent many institutions from participating or leave the participating institutions disappointed with the outcome. The strongest criticism concerns U-Multirank’s indicators, which remain weak proxies of quality for valid international comparison of institutions and the unfortunate fact that the present results are based on unverifiable data provided by the institutions themselves and on imprecise definitions that do not take national differences sufficiently into account and/or could be read differently in different national and sometimes even institutional contexts. It is therefore suggested, in particular to the sponsoring European Commission, to invest European taxpayers’ money in the years to come in the development of a high-quality and publicly accessible database of relevant basic data that can be used for meaningful benchmarking of higher education institutions.