The European Commission has announced the selected European universities alliances to receive funding from the Erasmus+ programme and continue with the full deployment of their projects. Unite! University Network for Innovation, Technology and Engineering, which was one of the first 17 European alliances selected in the first call in 2019 has received again the support of the EC to continue its path within the next four years.
Long-term strategic collaboration with two new partners
This second funding phase will start in November 2022 and coincides with the addition to Unite! of two new partners: Graz University of Technology (TU Graz) and Wrocław University of Science and Technology. The funding of 14.4 million euros is a clear acknowledgement from the European Commission that validates and reinforces the commitment of Unite! and all its partners to become a long-term strategic collaboration.
I am very happy that Unite!’s transformative journey will be funded for four more years by the European Commission. We will continue our work as a European University Alliance with nine full partners. I would like to thank all colleagues for bringing Unite!’s vision to life with their commitment, their active engagement and outstanding enthusiasm. Unite! is our common success story! Let us shape the future of our alliance together and combine our diverse perspectives and expertise to bring about change for a sustainable and digital future. (Tanja Brühl, President of Unite!)
Over the past three years the alliance's working groups with more than 500 active members (faculty, staff, administration and students) have deployed the pilot phase. The new phase, which starts in November, builds on the work and projects already initiated and is inspired and guided by the alliance's new Mission Statement 2030, which was adopted this year and sets the way forward for the following years.
Plans for the next four years
In the now granted proposal, Unite! makes explicit its will to be a model European university of innovation, technology and engineering that addresses the Sustainable Development Goals through a digital and green transition. To achieve it, the alliance will foster bottom-up community development and strengthen student participation and engagement in all its working groups.
Among the various projects that the alliance is working on, a more concrete output is to advance in the implementation of the European Degree and the development of a European Doctoral School around focus areas: Sustainable Energy, Artificial Intelligence, Industry 4.0 or Entrepreneurship.
It is in the DNA of our alliance to offer cutting-edge learning opportunities with innovative pedagogies. This includes challenge-based approaches, student-centred learning, and high-quality interaction in digital, hybrid and face-to-face learning environments. At the same time, we are working to ensure easy access to international programmes for students whom until now have been excluded from these opportunities for economic, social, or physical mobility reasons. In the upcoming years, the alliance will also strengthen its support to faculty, teachers and staff by either innovative teaching practices for the Unite! Community and by serving as supportive platform to initiate more and more joint research between the partner universities. (Andreas Winkler, Secretary General of Unite!)
In the new proposal the nine working groups, each led by one of the partner universities, will continue to build the umbrella for all these projects covering the areas of Management, Governance and Quality Assurance (TUDa); Digital Campus (TU Graz); Inclusion, Diversity and Well-being (ULisboa); Innovative Teaching and Learning (Aalto); Flexible Educational Provision (KTH); Professional Development and Training (Grenoble INP-UGA); PhD for Research, Innovation and Society (PoliTO); Open Innovation Community for Green Transition (Wroclaw Tech) and Strategic Outreach, Impact and Dissemination (UPC).
Die TU Graz in Unite!
TU Graz was accepted as a future new member of the University Network for Innovation, Technology and Engineering Unite! in December 2021. Together with its eight Unite! partner universities, TU Graz submitted the Erasmus+ funding application in the area of Partnerships for Excellence – European Universities for the funding period of 2022 to 2026, which has now been approved by the European Commission.
TU Graz is coordinating the work package "Digital Campus" and is acting as a co-coordinator for the area of quality assurance in the work package "Management, Governance and Quality Assurance".
Unite! is a European University alliance of innovation, technology and engineering. As a strategic alliance of universities based on shared values with a common vision and mutual trust, Unite! commits to being strong driving force for technology and innovation advancing a green and digital Europe. Unite! has four main focus areas: Sustainable Energy, Artificial Intelligence, Industry 4.0 and Entrepreneurship. The members of the alliance: Technical University of Darmstadt (Germany); Aalto University (Finland), KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden), Universidade de Lisboa (Portugal) Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya · BarcelonaTech (Spain) Grenoble INP-UGA (France), Politecnico di Torino (Italy), , TU Graz (Austria), Wrocław University of Science and Technology (Poland) articulate the talent of a large community of more than 280,000 students and nearly 80,000 graduates per year.
To build the alliance, the EU offers two main sources of funding: the now renewed funding under Erasmus+ and additional funding under Horizon 2020 to integrate Research and Innovation into the alliance. Both programmes aim to boost the Education and Research and Innovation dimension of European universities towards a European Education and Research Area.
The European Universities Initiative
The European Universities Initiative was launched in 2019 to push for the establishment of a European Education Area by 2025. European Universities are transnational alliances of higher education institutions from across the EU that share a long-term strategy, promoting European values and identity. The initiative is designed to significantly strengthen student and staff mobility and to foster the quality, inclusion and competitiveness of European higher education.
In response to a first call of the Erasmus+ Programme in 2019, the first 17 alliances were selected for a 3-year pilot phase to lay the foundations for future European universities. Unite! has been among these first 17. Another 24 alliances followed in the 2nd call in 2020.
Unite!’s new funding starting end of 2022 falls into the calls of the further roll out of the European Universities Initiative. It plans to increase the number of European Universities to 60 with more than 500 universities by mid-2024, supported under Erasmus+ with an indicative budget of EUR 1.1 billion for the period 2021 to 2027. The aim is to develop and share a common long-term structural, sustainable and systemic cooperation on education, research and innovation, creating European inter-university campuses where students, staff and researchers from all parts of Europe can enjoy seamless mobility and create new knowledge together, across countries and disciplines.
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