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CG takes active role at the II Forum of European Universities Alliances

26 September 2023

From 14 to 15 September 2023 in Barcelona, the Spanish Ministry of Universities organized the second Forum of European Universities Alliances as part of the official programme of the Spanish Presidency of the EU Council. The objective was to contribute to the development of the European Universities Initiative (EUI). This outstanding event gathered more than 400 higher education actors of which 70% represented an Alliance, but also Member States, national authorities, student organisations and higher education networks. The event was held in presence of the Commission’s Vice-President Margaritis Schinas, Spanish Universities Minister Joan Subirats and French Higher Education and Research Minister Sylvie Retailleau, who have unanimously applauded the progress so far, and called for greater steps forward.

The Forum offered a space for stimulating discussions and networking around important issues currently facing the Alliances. Coimbra Group had the pleasure of preparing and moderating two panel discussions: the session on the EUI’s monitoring framework, managed by EB Chair Ludovic Thilly, also coordinator of FOREU2 and the EC2U Alliance, while the session on the Alliances’ external dimension and their cooperation with partners from third countries, was chaired by Director Emmanuelle Gardan.

Other topics addressed at the Forum include, inter alia, the Alliances’ financial sustainability, their R&I activities, and their social dimension. Noteworthy this was also the first time that all pilot projects currently co-funded by the Commission for the experimentation of a future European Degree label, and for developing recommendations on a European legal status for the Alliances, were on stage together, presenting their respective objectives and state of play. The Forum organisers have announced that the recordings and the main outcomes of the sessions, as well as the photo gallery, would be available on the Forum’s official website shortly.

The success of this Forum, held only one year after the first edition was initiated by the French Presidency of the EU Council in June 2022 in Versailles, is a testimony of the growing importance and influence of the Alliances and how they are contributing to shape the ever-changing landscape of institutional transnational cooperation in Europe. Coimbra Group members have embraced the European Universities Initiative wholeheartedly and now find themselves as frontrunners of these major transformations in the sector, as was reflected in Barcelona by their participation as speakers or moderators in many sessions of the Forum. As repeatedly said during the event, it will be of key importance that EU Members States, with the active support of the Commission, maintain the momentum, step up reform efforts in areas where progress is still needed and secure the necessary funding to reach the ambitious political goals.

We therefore look forward to the Forum’s third edition, hoping that it will mark another milestone in celebrating key new achievements for the EUI. At the Coimbra Group we will continue fostering internal dialogue and critical reflection among our membership on the further development of the EUI, as well as gathering the experience from the eight Alliances with CG members, to provide further input to policy makers and ensure the universities’ transformational potential and efforts are recognised and supported appropriately. Of the forty Coimbra Group member universities, thirty-five now form part of an Alliance. Furthermore, five Alliances have set up a framework of cooperation with the Coimbra Group through associated partnership status (ARQUS, CHARM-EU, Circle U., EC2U and Una Europa).