Forum of Universities for the future of Europe
#EU2022fr Ministerial Conference

Context and challenges

In order to address the major challenges facing European countries, culture and knowledge are more than ever the foundations of the European sense of belonging and the building blocks of a united and forward-looking Europe. The European Universities Initiative, launched following the speech on Europe delivered by the President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron at the Sorbonne on 26 September 2017, bears witness to the mobilisation of universities in the broadest sense to promote common European values and a strengthened European identity as well as to improve the quality, attractiveness and international competitiveness of Europe’s higher education institutions.

The European Universities Initiative is embodied in 41 3-year pilot projects involving more than 280 institutions from all over Europe and more than 1,000 associated partners (research centres, enterprises etc.). These alliances test different models for the innovative, inclusive and world-class “university of the future” in Europe. They constitute large-scale experiments, allowing their members to evolve through contact with each other, but also to play the role of pioneers for the benefit of all European higher education stakeholders.

This dynamic is fertile and inspiring for all. The transformations underway within the alliances can provide material for future developments in the higher education sector in Europe: developing the scientific potential of universities, coordinating innovation ecosystems, addressing major challenges such as climate change in a multidisciplinary manner, creating more flexible and open lifelong learning pathways, promoting fundamental values, projecting universities towards internationalisation, etc.

Nevertheless, it is now necessary to accompany more effectively the transformations in which the alliances and all institutions involved in European partnerships are engaged. It is also crucial to be able to present a long-term vision for the alliances such as the European universities.

This vision is one of sustainable alliances with a common culture, identity and governance, delivering European degrees, attracting the best research staff and able to set up cutting-edge laboratories together.

A priority of the #EU2022FR

Higher education is at the heart of the priorities of the #EU2022FR. The French Presidency will therefore be keen to push forward the proposals made by the Commission in the context of its European strategy for universities (presented on 18 January). It will also lead the work aimed at providing alliances such as the European universities with a framework for their development and sustainability, in particular by addressing the issue of their status and possible synergies between European programmes.

This priority is illustrated by the organisation of the first Forum of Universities for the Future of Europe, which is the immediate follow-up to the informal meeting of HERI ministers, where discussions will have been largely devoted to the European strategy for universities and the synergies between research and higher education policy.

Finally, as announced by the President of the Republic on 9 December at the launch of the #EU2022FR, a major meeting of European universities will be organised next June to conclude the work of the Presidency in this area.

The Forum of Universities for the future of Europe.

The Forum brings together representatives of European higher education stakeholders, Member States, the Commission and European universities alliances and offers them a space for debate and reflection on the role of universities in the Europe of tomorrow, with a view to contributing to the European strategy for universities and its next steps.

The programme of the day on 26 January comprises two parallel threads.

On the one hand, three sessions organised according to the Presidency’s axes (power, recovery, sense of belonging), will address the contribution of universities to these different facets of the European project. Each thematic session will be introduced by a high-level speech, setting the framework and the stakes of the debate: Federica Mogherini, former High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and present Rector of the College of Europe, for the topic of power; Alexandre Tisserant, President of the innovative start-up Kineis, for the topic of recovery; and Laurence Farreng, Member of the European Parliament and coordinator of the Committee on Culture and Education, for the topic of sense of belonging. Within each session, three parallel roundtables will then gather experts and institutions of European higher education, to bring out concrete proposals for the future of higher education in Europe. The nine round tables will focus on strategic issues such as international competitiveness, the green and digital transition and European citizenship.

On the other hand, the “Workshops of Alliances” are intended to be a place for the exchange of good practices between alliances such as European universities, and aim to offer a first feedback from their pilot phase, in order to contribute to the development of the next steps. Facilitated by the two forums bringing together these alliances, ForEU1 and ForEU2, and by the French Conference of University Presidents France Universités, a series of six workshops will address the major issues facing European university alliances today: joint programmes and degrees, synergies between higher education and research, green and digital transition, innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems, international cooperation, and the place of students in Europe.

At the end of the day, a joint feedback session from the alliances’ workshops and the roundtables of the thematic sessions will provide a contribution to the European reflections on the future of universities, and will feed the work of the Presidency on this subject.

Students will be at the heart of this Forum, which will be the occasion for the participants of the EUC initiative, which brings together students from European universities mobilised within the framework of the Conference on the Future of Europe, to present their “Manifesto on the future of the university in Europe” at the opening ceremony on 25 January, in the presence of European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, the Ministers of the Trio and the President of the EUA. On the 26th, students from the European Universities alliances will also play a central role as rapporteurs of the roundtables and workshops, to present the Forum participants’ contribution to the European strategy for universities and the next steps.

To participate

The Forum is organised online, all sequences (plenary sessions, roundtables and workshops) will be accessible from this website through the links in the programme (see programme section), subject to prior registration.

The languages of the Forum are French, English and German. There will be no interpretation for the workshops and roundtables.

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