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Coimbra Group 2023 Annual Conference

12 June 2023

© UoC Division 9  – International Affairs

The Coimbra Group (CG) 2023 Annual Conference and General Assembly took place from 31 May to 2 June 2023 in the beautiful city of Cologne, hosted by our member the University of Cologne. Around 250 representatives of the 40 Coimbra Group member universities gathered in the event for a full 3-day programme. You can watch the public part, which was broadcasted live, on the Coimbra Group YouTube channel (Public Conference on Europe-Africa Cooperation, 3MT Competition Live Final and Open Session on European University Alliances).


The first day started with a meeting between the Executive Board, Coimbra Group representatives and all Working Groups Chairs and Vice-Chairs. This was the occasion to exchange on their respective roles, enhance communication between the different organs and inform about ongoing initiatives and activities. The meeting was continued at the end of the day, after all the Working Groups had met, with ideas for continuous improvement.

The 12 Working Groups held their meetings throughout the day and, in the afternoon, while some continued their individual meetings, others had organised 4 parallel sessions open to all the Coimbra Group community, on the following topics:

  • “Racism at CG Universities: Historical and Current Perspectives” – a session organised between the Working Groups Equality and Diversity and Heritage, where participants explored the intellectual foundations and heritage of academic institutions, alongside a present-day analysis of everyday racism in the form of micro-aggressions or racist statements, of discriminatory institutional practices, and the contents of teaching and research.
  • “Universities in Multilingual Europe: Experiences in CG Universities” – a topic proposed by the Education Innovation Working Group, with case-studies from different CG Universities and an open debate on the topic.
  • “Latin America and European partnerships in today’s world: perspectives from Europe” – organised by the Latin America Working Group. Speakers included Anneken Reise (ENRICH Global), Fernando Galván (University of Alcalá) and Ferdinando Fava (University of Padua).
  • Joint meeting between the Development Cooperation and Latin America Working Groups.

Three Working Groups were holding elections for their next Chair. Congratulations to Francesco de Anna (University of Würzburg) who was elected new STEM WG Chair, and to Annalisa Oboe (University of Padua) and Nicoleta Popa (Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iași) who got re-elected for a second term as Chair of the Equality & Diversity WG and Chair of the Education and Innovation WG respectively!


The second day of the Coimbra Group 2023 Annual Conference and General Assembly took place in the impressive Aula of the main building of the University of Cologne.

Throughout the day the posters of all 12 CG Working Groups were exhibited in the common area. The posters showcased each group’s aims and highlights, as well as their future events or initiatives.

Public Conference “Africa meets Europe”

Thursday 1 June started with the annual public conference, this year on Africa-Europe cooperation under the title “Africa meets Europe”, with keynote addresses by Domenico Rosa (European Commission, DG International Partnerships) and by Hirut Woldemariam (Addis Ababa University) who spoke about “Empowering female scientists in Africa: a prerequisite for sustainable and inclusive development”.

Two panel discussions followed, on “Empowering Young Talents” and “For a Sustainable Global Future”.
Recording of the conference here.

Coimbra Group 3 Minute-Thesis Competition

The afternoon started with the traditional Coimbra Group 3MT Competition where the 3 finalists, Ida Cecilie Jensen (Aarhus University), Juhi Parmar (Jena University) and Michaela Raab (Edinburgh University) presented their thesis in 3 minutes for a physical and virtual audience.

The jury was composed by Mikael Lindfelt (Rector of Åbo Akademi University and 3MT jury spokesperson), Mireille Van Poppel (Vice-Rector for Internationalization and Equal Opportunities, University of Graz), Pierre-Antoine Bonnet (Vice-Chair of CG Life Sciences WG, University of Montpellier), Elisabeth Hoffmann (Chief Communication Officer at the University of Cologne) and Adriana Zait (Chair of CG Doctoral Studies WG, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iași).

After deliberation, the jury decided to award the first prize to Ida Cecilie Jensen (€ 3000), and the other two candidates were ex-aequo the runners-up (€ 1500). On the 2023 edition, a total of 26 out of the 40 member universities of the Coimbra Group took part in the competition. Watch the replay of the contest here.

Open Session on Alliances: “Becoming global actors: Opportunities and challenges”

The 4th CG Open Session on the European Universities Alliances was oriented towards a reflection on the global outreach and contribution to Europe’s global competitiveness of the Alliances. Moderated by Danny Donoghue (Executive Board member, Durham University), the session counted with the participation of Vanessa Debiais-Sainton (Head of Unit, Higher Education, DG EAC, European Commission).

The discussion was completed with experiences from Alliances of European Universities with CG Members: 4EU+ (Lenka Rovná, Charles University; Olivier Vincent, University of Geneva), Arqus (Dorothy Kelly, University of Granada) and CHARM-EU (Raúl Ramos Lobo, University of Barcelona).

Full recording of the session here.

Meeting between the Erasmus Student Network and Coimbra Group contact points

Another new feature this year was the first physical meeting between ESN local sections-CG Contact points meeting. The Erasmus Student Network and the Coimbra Group signed a Memorandum of Understanding in June 2021. Both have since then been meeting virtually, working together to enhance student mobility, internationalisation and empower international students.

This meeting focused on the European Universities Alliances, the Green Erasmus project and ESNSurvey 2023. The meeting introduced current best practices implemented by ESN sections and CG Universities and provided space for dialogue and brainstorming on joint initiatives that could be developed in the near future.

Closed Rectors’ Meeting

The Closed Rectors’ Meeting this year discussed the “European Strategy for Universities: Recommendations on upcoming developments in relation to teaching excellence, academic careers, and the further roll-out of the Alliances”, a session moderated by Rector Axel Freimuth (University of Cologne), and “Horizon Europe & FP10: Recommendations on future priorities, European Excellence Initiative and UK/Switzerland association”, a session moderated by Rector Margareth Hagen (University of Bergen).

It was also the occasion to approve the three new members proposed by the Executive Board for the Rectors’ Advisory Group:

  • Rector Joan Guàrdia Olmos (University of Barcelona)
  • Rector Milena Králíčková (Charles University)
  • President Annetje Ottow (Leiden University)

General Assembly

The highlight of Friday 2 June was the Coimbra Group General Assembly chaired by Rector Axel Freimuth (University of Cologne). Executive Board (EB) chair Ludovic Thilly (University of Poitiers), vice-chair Cláudia Cavadas (University of Coimbra), treasurer Luca Verzichelli (EB, University of Siena) and CG Office director Emmanuelle Gardan presented the annual report. The new Coimbra Group institutional video highlighting the past year’s main achievements was shown to CG members for the first time.

The results of the electronic votes on the statutory decisions and EB vacancies were announced. Piia Björn (University of Turku), Antonella Forlino (University of Pavia) and João Ramalho-Santos (University of Coimbra) were elected as new members of the Executive Board, replacing Cláudia Cavadas, Elmer Sterken (University of Groningen) and Luca Verzichelli who stepped down this year. After the GA, the new EB held a closed meeting where Beatrix Busse (University of Cologne) was elected the new vice-chair, while Danny Donoghue (Durham University) was elected the new treasurer.

The General Assembly hosted a lively discussion among delegates on the way forward for the Coimbra Group (“Looking to the future: towards CG’s 40th anniversary in 2025”) , which started with vibrant introductory pitches by members of the CG community.

2024 Coimbra Group Annual Meeting: save the date!

The Universities of Åbo Akademi and Turku will be co-hosting the Coimbra Group Annual Conference and General Assembly, 4 – 7 June 2024!

The topic of the Annual Conference will be: “Research and Education – Most Impactful Together”.

Watch the invitation video here.

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Copyright: University of Cologne, International Affairs