Coimbra Group High-Level Research

Policy Seminar

Palais des Nations, Geneva,  21-22 October 2021

The High-Level Seminar on Research Policy took place in 2021 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on the topic “The Coimbra Group Meets the United Nations”.

Jointly organised by the Coimbra Group, the University of Geneva and the UN Library & Archives, this seminar was intended as a forum for informal dialogue on Science Diplomacy, with a specific focus on the impact of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG) on research and the contribution of research to the SDGs.

The Rectors and Vice-Rectors for Research and for International of Coimbra Group Universities were joined by heads of UN agencies, government officials, think-tanks impact investors and representatives of other international actors such as the CERN or the World Economic Forum, to discuss the roadmap towards achieving the SDGs by 2030.

The keynotes were delivered by Amb. Jürg Lauber, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the United Nations in Geneva, and by Ms Anna Panagopoulou, Director for ERA & Innovation at the European Commission (DG RTD).

The seminar successfully contributed to:

  • Empower universities in bridging/cooperating/increasing their engagement with international organisations through a dialogue between academic research, on one side, and the UN SDG framework and its redefinition towards 2030 on the other side;
  • Provide an overview of existing initiatives in the field of science-policy interface with international organisations;
  • Offer opportunities to Coimbra Group universities’ Rectors and Vice-Rectors to establish direct contact with high-level decision makers of UN agencies based in Geneva and discuss possible collaborations.

Two roundtables were held dealing with “Leveraging science and knowledge to achieve the SDGs: views of four different stakeholders” and “Strengthening the Interface between Science and Policy”.

The participants also took part in a creative interactive session using futures-thinking which key messages have been captured in a graphic recording visible below.

Final Programme

Presentation Peter Lievens: Sustainability at KU Leuven

“Report from Foresight Workshop”, 22 October 2021

Open photo gallery (©United Nations Library & Archives)

Coimbra Group High-Level Webinar on Education

3-4 December 2020

The High-Level Webinar on Education took place on 3rd – 4th  December 2020, on the topic “Challenges and future of internationalisation in the European Knowledge Area”.

The Coimbra Group ambitions to play a proactive role in the discussions that will shape the European Knowledge Area (“EKA”), drawing on the education- and research-led profile of its 41 member universities, and also on its network-wide expertise in the field of physical mobility as well as collaborative and online teaching accumulated since the very beginning to the Erasmus experience.

Our recent Report on “Practices at Coimbra Group Universities in response to COVID-19” together with our Position Paper on the Digital Education Plan pointed out the crucial need to foster a multi-scale reflection on the mid- and long-term perspectives of academic mobility (students, teachers, researchers) and teaching innovation: from the viewpoints of students and teachers, but also of university managers, as well as national and European policymakers.

Without diminishing the irreplaceable and central role of physical mobility of students, academics (teachers and researchers), and staff in the building of the EKA, the Coimbra Group will now undertake a systematic assessment of the recent experiences and initiatives concerning Virtual Exchange (VE) and innovative online tools and activities (incl. courses).

This High Level Webinar on Education Policy took the first decisive steps in this direction via
1) a review of the current trends in collaborative forms of VE and innovative teaching,
2) a multi-scale analysis and
3) concrete recommendations on their future implementation and roll-out.

This webinar continues the annual tradition of Coimbra Group high-level policy seminars addressing issues of key concerns in, alternately, education and research policies.

High-Level Webinar Programme

Wrap-up Summary and Key Takings from the sessions


Session 1: Review of challenges and opportunities

Session 2: Building concrete solutions via institutional innovations

Session 3: Building concrete solutions via collaborative innovations

Session 4: Recommendations for the future of mobility and internationalisation in the
European Knowledge Area

  • Ludovic Thilly, University of Poitiers, Executive Board Chair
  • Sophia Eriksson-Waterschoot, Director for Youth, Education and Erasmus+, European Commission
  • Dirk Van Damne, Senior Counsellor, OECD Directorate for Education and SkillsProspects for Mobility and Internationalization
    Dirk Van Damne – key links
  • Cisca Wijmenga, Rector, University of Groningen
  • Eva Åkesson, Vice-Chancellor, University of Uppsala
  • Beatrix Busse, Vice-Rector, University of Cologne
  • Kostis Giannidis, President, Erasmus Student Network

Coimbra Group High-Level Seminar on Education

2-3 December 2019, Tartu

The High-Level Seminar on Education took place at the University of Tartu, 2nd – 3rd December 2019, on the topic “Universities as drivers of socio-academic integration in multilingual Europe”.
On the occasion, the Coimbra Group announced the first international benchmarking results.
This seminar continues the annual tradition of Coimbra Group high-level policy seminars addressing issues of key concerns in, alternately, education and research policies.



Prof. Ludovic Thilly, Chair of the Executive Board of the Coimbra Group

Ludovic Thilly

Director-General Themis Christophidou, DG Education, Youth, Sport and Culture

click here to see the video 

Nick Pidgeon, i-graduate

Nick Pidgeon

Prof. Sanja Boskovic, Poitiers

Sanja Boskovic

Prof. Birute Klaas, Tartu

Birute Klaas

Prof. Riitta Pyykkö, Vice-Rector, Turku

Riitta Pyykkö

Prof. Catherine Montgomery, Durham

Catherine Montgomery

Prof. Jasperina Brouwer, Groningen

Jasperina Brouwer

Coimbra Group High-Level Seminar on Research Policy

6-7 December 2018, San Servolo

Since 2013, the Coimbra Group has organised high-level policy seminars on research to address current issues in European research policy of key importance to member universities and to the European research community. The high-level policy seminars have been organised in collaboration with the Venice International University based on the Isola di San Servolo, Venice.

The high-level policy seminars are intended as a forum for informal dialogue between university rectors, stakeholders and key decision makers in European research policy.

The theme chosen by the Executive Board of the Coimbra Group for 2018 was “Defining and measuring impact of research: an inter-disciplinary and inter-sectoral approach”. The rationale is based on the increasing importance of research impact assessment currently observed in national, European and international research programmes, and expected to increase further in the future, in particular within the ninth European Research and Innovation Framework Programme, Horizon Europe, and associated Open Science policies. At the high-level seminar, we aimed at gathering Coimbra Group rectors and experts from the field to reflect on the current state of research impact definitions and associated indicators, considering the different disciplines, sectors and viewpoints of involved funding bodies. A specific focus was on one of the recent developments in research policy, i.e. the introduction of a mission-oriented approach and its impact on Research and Innovation practices in general. The seminar was composed of four main sessions: the first aimed at providing information on the latest developments in FP9 and mission-oriented research, while the second and third sessions focused on inter-disciplinary and inter-sectoral definitions and assessments of research impact. The last session introduced case studies on how to develop a research impact culture at universities.

Among the invited key note speakers and discussants were key stakeholders in European research policy, representatives from European institutions, leading researchers and policy officers from member universities, rectors from member universities as well as representatives from other European university networks. As at earlier high-level policy seminar, the 2018 event was attended by Rectors and Vice Rectors for Research at our member universities from all over Europe together with their senior research support officers. It was intended to offer senior representatives at our member universities a forum for discussion of issues arising from the design and implementation of the Horizon Europe.

High-Level Seminar programme


Opening addresses

The Honorary President of the Coimbra Group, Rector Ricardo Rivero Ortega

Representative of the Venice International University, Ambassador Umberto Vattani

Venice International University

The Chair of the Executive Board of the Coimbra Group, Prof. Ludovic Thilly

Session 1: Status of FP9, Horizon Europe

General presentation of FP9, incl. differences compared to FP8 Horizon 2020, Prof. Maria da Graça Carvalho, Unit for the Scientific Advice Mechanism, DG Research & Innovation, European Commission

Focus point on Mission-oriented research, Robbert Fisher, Managing Director of Joint Institute for Innovation Policy

Session 2: How to define research impact

Prof. Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, President of the European Research Council

Prof. Anders Flodström, Education Director of EIT Digital

Session 3: How to define and measure research impact – funders’ views

Jean-Claude Burgelman, Head of Unit B2 “Open Science”, DG Research & Innovation, European Commission

Chonnettia Jones, Director of Insight and Analysis, Wellcome Trust

Session 4: How to develop a research impact culture?

Jennifer Chubb, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom

Examples of practices at Coimbra Group Universities, Ann Ryan, NUI Galway, Chair of the CG Research Support Officers Working Group

Open photo gallery

First Coimbra Group High-Level Workshop on “Lifelong Learning and Employability”

24 January 2018

The Permanent Representation of the Czech Republic to the EU, Brussels

The Coimbra Group, the network of historical comprehensive research-intensive European universities (, is committed to serving European society and to addressing its grand challenges. At the forefront of these are the unemployment reduction and the continuous upskilling of the workforce. As a result, Lifelong Learning and Employability are top priorities for the European Union institutions as well as for European universities. This is reflected in recent studies, which state:

“Persistent lack of employment opportunities, especially among the young and low-skilled, may lead to serious long-term consequences. […]. More generally, improving and maintaining high-level skills and workforce competences is essential to ensure that Europe remains competitive and innovative against increasing global competition, fast-changing labour market needs and demographic challenges. […]. The low-skilled are now clearly at the top of the European policy agenda: the New skills agenda for Europe includes a specific action (Upskilling pathways: new opportunities for adults) aimed at supporting Member States in ensuring that every European acquires a minimum level of skills necessary to realise talent and potential fully.” [Cedefop (2017). Investing in skills pays off: the economic and social cost of low skilled adults in the EU. Luxembourg: Publications Office. Cedefop research paper No 60.]

“With global competition increasing, demographic change unfolding and rapid technological change intensifying, skill mismatch has come to the forefront of Europe’s policy debate. […]. Shortages in some sectors may occur simultaneously with over-education in others. When skill mismatch takes time to resolve it imposes real costs on individuals, enterprises and societies.” [Cedefop (2010). The skill matching challenge. Analysing skill mismatch and policy implications. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2010. ISBN 978-92-896-0485-7]

Europe’s universities need urgent renewal, to stimulate entrepreneurship and tear down disciplinary borders. […]. The post-2020 EU R&I programme should reinforce support for skills and competence development in EU-funded projects.” [European Commission – Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (2017). LAB – FAB – APP — Investing in the European future we want. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. PDF ISBN 978-92-79-70068-2 doi:10.2777/30011 KI-01-17-665-EN-N]


In the context of preparations for the next European Programmes for higher education and for research and innovation (the post-Erasmus+ and the post-Horizon 2020 programmes), the Coimbra Group wishes to bring significant contributions to this modernisation agenda. A first step towards that is the organisation of this workshop in cooperation with MEP Mrs Elisabeth Morin-Chartier (Parliament’s Bureau, Quaestor, Committee on Employment and Social Affairs).

Coimbra Group Universities have a long tradition of innovation and are committed to engage in intensive dialogue with European institutions in support of ambitious Higher Education and Research policies. This High-Level Workshop aims at bringing Rectors from the Coimbra Group Universities together with European Higher Education Experts and Policymakers to discuss how comprehensive, research-intensive universities can contribute constructively to the Higher Education modernisation agenda on Lifelong Learning and Employability.

For further information and registration please contact Catarina Moleiro at the Coimbra Group Office (



Ludovic Thilly, Professor, University of Poitiers, Chair of the Coimbra Group Executive Board

Joachim James Calleja, Director of CEDEFOP, European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training

Cesare Onestini, Director of ETF, European Training Foundation

Vanessa Debiais-Sainton, Acting Head of Unit for Higher Education, European Commission, Directorate-General Education, Youth, Sport and Culture

Eika Berit, Pro-Rector, Aarhus University

Nathalie Martin-Papineau, Vice-Rector, University of Poitiers

Ilaria Poggiolini, Vice-Rector, University of Pavia

Wijnand Aalderink, Director, Career Services and Corporate Relations, University of Groningen

Second CG High-Level Seminar for Rectors and Vice-Rectors on Education Policy

13-14 November 2017, Trinity College Dublin

On 13-14 November 2017, the Coimbra Group held its second High-Level Seminar on Education Policy, which was kindly hosted by Trinity College Dublin.

Around 100 participants joined us in this successful event, including Rectors and Vice-Rectors of the 39 Coimbra Group universities and representatives of key stakeholders in higher education policy and in industry.

This seminar continued the annual tradition of Coimbra Group high-level policy seminars addressing issues of key concerns in, alternately, education and research policies. Within our alternating biannual structure the focus this year was on Education Policy and the chosen topic “Internationalisation of the Curriculum”.

We discussed how internationalisation strategies and policies at our universities are and can be reflected in the curriculum, campus life and wider activities of the universities. More specifically, we shared our experiences and ideas over a number of related aspects such as the embedding of internationalisation in the curriculum for all students, the role of co- and extra-curricular activities, student societies and student life, virtual mobility, managing diversity of learning styles and intellectual approaches, intercultural communication and English as a medium of instruction.

We are grateful to our keynote speakers:

Patricia Reilly (Deputy Head of Cabinet, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport), Conor O’Carroll (Chair, European Steering Group on Human Resources and Mobility), Betty Leask (Emerita Professor of La Trobe University, Melbourne, former Pro Vice-Chancellor Teaching and Learning), Elspeth Jones (Emerita Professor of the Internationalisation of Higher Education at Leeds Metropolitan University, former International Dean and International Education Consultant), Fionnuala Meehan (Head of Google Ireland, Vice President of EMEA Google Marketing Solutions), Mary Clarke (Vice-Dean for International Citizenship, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland), Helen Spencer-Oatey (Professor in the Centre for Applied Linguistics, University of Warwick);

As well as to Coimbra Group respondents:

Tony Fawcett (Dean and Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor Education, Durham University), Hiltraud Casper-Hehne (Vice-Rector International Universität Göttingen), Dana Samson (Vice-Rector International, Université catholique de Louvain), Anne-Marie Motard (Vice-Rector International, University of Montpellier), Dorothy Kelly (Vice-Rector International, University of Granada).

We would like to thank Trinity College Dublin for the warm hospitality and of course all the participants, who made this event such an enjoyable experience with quality discussions and inspiration for future activities.

The slides and podcasts of the presentations will be available soon.


Podcasts High-Level Seminar

Session 1:

Sessions 3-4:

Sessions 5-6:

Sessions 7-8:

Presentations High-Level Seminar

Ludovic Thilly – The Coimbra Group

Patrick Prendergast – Globalisation, Trinity Education Project and the Graduate Attributes

Conor O’Carroll – Internationalisation of the Curriculum and Human Resources Development

Betty Leask – Translating an institutional Challenge into an Opportunity for Innovation

Tony Fawcett – Response to Internationalisation of the Curriculum

Elspeth Jones – Student-centred Internationalisation: qualitative implications for universities and curricula

Hiltraud Casper-Hehne – Response to Student-centred Internationalisation: Qualitative Implications for Universities and Curricula

Dana Samson – Response to Internationalisation of the curriculum: View from the Industry

Mary Clarke – Internationalisation at Home and Global Citizenship

Anne-Marie Motard – Response to Internationalisation at Home and Global Citizenship

Helen Spencer-Oatey – Internationalisation and the Development of “Global Graduates”

Dorothy Kelly – Response to Internationalisation and the Development of “Global Graduates”

Coimbra Group Research Policy Seminar

27-28 October 2016, San Servolo

On 27-28 October, the Coimbra Group held its third research policy seminar at the Venice International University on the island of San Servolo. The seminar was opened by President Yves Jean, the Honorary President of the Coimbra Group, and Rector Rosario Rizzuto on behalf of the University of Padova, one of the founders of the Venice International University.

The seminar brought together twenty-five Coimbra Group universities with representatives of European organisations such as the European Commission, the League of European Research Universities, the Guild of Research-Intensive Universities and UNICA.

The afternoon saw two inspiring presentations from Senior Adviser to the Commissioner, Prof. Maria da Graça Carvalho setting the scene with the three “O”s, open innovation, open science and open to the world, while Dr Wilhelm Krull underlined the importance of training people, of nurturing the innovation that comes from human creativity.

The panel discussion brought the speakers together with Rector Rizzuto, Vice-President Lokesh Joshi from Galway and Prof. Deketelaere from LERU.

The second day concentrated on the theme of research infrastructures, with an introductory presentation from David Bohmert, who represents the Swiss National Science Foundation on the ESFRI Board, the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures, followed by Dr Jennifer Edmonds from Trinity College Dublin and Prof. Paul Bertrand from University of Louvain on DARIAH, Digital Research Infrastructures for the Arts and Humanities. Rector Žukauskas from Vilnius University presented the shared infrastructures at his university, and Prof. Serge Huberson looked at the international cooperation level and the questions of sustainability.

You will find the presentations below:

Dr W. Krull

Prof. M. da Graça Carvalho

Dr J. Edmond DARIAH

ESFRI D. Bohmert

Prof. P. Bertrand DARIAH

Prof. S. Huberson

Rector A. Zukauskas Vilnius Case Study

Coimbra Group conference “Impact of a Horizon 2020 proposal – industrial leadership and societal challenges”

3-4 December 2015, Aarhus University

Impact has become one of the key evaluation criteria in Horizon 2020 European research proposals. The European Commission is planning to apply more rigorous evaluations with respect to the impact of a proposal. This makes it crucial for Research Support Offices to help the researchers to understand and to explain the potential impact of proposals – two issues which many find difficult.

The aim of the conference is two-fold:

  • To shed light on and understand how impact of a research project is assessed
    and how the Commission will proceed with the development of impact evaluation
  • To learn about experiences from users, evaluators and successful research
    support offices


Coimbra Group High-level Seminar “A Tradition of Innovation”

26-27 October 2015, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iași


Seminar for Directors/Coordinators of Translation, Interpreting and Translation Studies Programmes

28 October 2015, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iași


Provisional programme

Coimbra Group High-level Seminar
“Horizons 2015: First Experiences, Emerging Expectations”
Horizon 2020 from the perspective of European Research Universities

30-31 October 2014, San Servolo

Summary of Findings Rector Elmer Sterken, Honorary President of CG Rectors’ Advisory Group

Message from the Italian Minister of Education and Research Stefania Giannini

List of Participants


Cooperation between Research Support Offices in the CG Mr John Westensee – Aarhus University (intranet)

The open archive HAL: open access to scientific publications Ms Christine Berthaud – CCSD, CNRS (intranet)

Keynote on Research and Innovation Provost Patrick Prendergast, Trinity College Dublin

Early Career Researchers at the University of Edinburgh Prof. Jeremy Bradshaw – University of Edinburgh (intranet)

Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions: Opportunities for early-stage researchers Ms Kamila Partyka – DG Education and Culture, European Commission (intranet)

Open Access and Open Data in Horizon 2020 Dr Wolfram Horstmann Georg-August University Göttingen

Open Access and Open Data Pilot in Horizon 2020 by Daniel Spichtinger presented by Dr Horstmann Georg-August University Göttingen

Conclusions Honorary President, Rector Elmer Sterken, University of Groningen (intranet)

Science 2.0: the view from LERU Dr Paul Ayris – University College London (intranet)

Cohesion and Regional Innovation Rector Volli Kalm – University of Tartu

Regional Innovation Prof. Anders Malmberg – Uppsala University (intranet)

Horizon 2020 and its impact on university research strategies Prof. Susanne Weigelin-Schwiedrzik – University of Vienna (intranet)

Early stage researchers: perspective from doctoral education Prof. Melita Kovačević – University of Zagreb (intranet)

See the video blabla