The European Campus of City-Universities (EC2U) Alliance celebrated the end of its pilot phase and the start of a new phase in a joint Forum.
The Forum, organised in Poitiers, France, 17-19 October 2023, brought together a large number of representatives of the EC2U Alliance. During the forum, participants had the opportunity to discuss current topics, plan upcoming activities and strengthen cooperation with representatives of member universities and stakeholders. The Forum also wrapped up the Alliance’s pilot phase, which officially ends with the start of a new phase in the beginning of November 2023.
A large number of staff and student representatives from the University of Turku participated in the Forum. Piia Björn, Vice Rector responsible of Education and the leader of the EC2U Alliance at the University of Turku, was pleased with the Forum.
“Many working groups had a chance to discuss the themes and activities of the upcoming phase of the Alliance. The current phase has taught us many things and we are now creating something actually new with the partners,” Vice Rector Björn says.
The Coordinator General of the EC2U Alliance, Professor Ludovic Thilly from the University of Poitiers, was also pleased with the Forum and the achievements of the first phase of the Alliance. In his speech, Professor Thilly mentioned that he was very proud of the work the Alliance members have done in developing joint campus life, creating international master's level joint degree programs and virtual institutes, increasing mobility and strengthening cooperation. Professor Thilly reminded the Forum’s participants that the first season of the Alliance has been challenging in many ways. However, the problems caused by challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic have been overcome and the future of the Alliance looks promising.
New phase brings along new members and activities
EC2U cooperation aims to create a pan-European campus that connects not only academic communities but also citizens and other stakeholders. In addition to the University of Turku, the members of the Alliance in the pilot phase have included, the Alexandru Ioan Cuza University in Romania, the University of Coimbra in Portugal, the Friedrich Schiller University Jena in Germany, the University of Pavia in Italy, the University of Salamanca in Spain, and the University of Poitiers in France which coordinates the Alliance. Partners of the Alliance also include the universities’ home cities and student organisations. The Alliance's strategic non-EU partner is the Ivan Franko University in Lviv, Ukraine.
With the new season starting in early November, the Alliance widens its reach as it is joined by Johannes Kepler University in Linz, Austria. Cooperation between universities, cities and other stakeholders will also become more diverse as new partners include companies and university hospitals from the member regions.
In addition to new partnerships, the Alliance's activities will become even more diverse. Alongside the already existing three virtual institutes that are based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, there are plans to establish a virtual institute and international degree programmes on the theme of peace, justice and strong institutions. The aim of virtual institutes is to bring together researchers at different career stages, starting from researchers pursuing their PhD.
In the new phase, the University of Turku coordinates the Inclusive, Engaged and Mobile EC2U Community work package, which aims to promote a safe and inclusive social environment by focusing on well-being and mental health of students. In addition, the work package promotes inclusive, sustainable and diverse mobility. In the new phase, the University of Turku will also share the responsibility of coordinating the EC2U Digital Alliance work package, which supports innovative, digital education initiatives and the utilisation of digital pedagogies.
Jukka Kola, Rector of the University of Turku, told the Forum participants that in the new phase, the University of Turku will continue to be a committed member of the Alliance and will be actively involved in deepening cooperation between the Alliance and its stakeholders.
“Students, staff and citizens getting together, exchange of the best practices, networking and having discussions with new and old friends are at the heart of the EC2U cooperation. The University of Turku engages in long-term and goal-oriented collaboration with its partners and we are looking forward to continuing sustainable cooperation within EC2U Alliance,” said Rector Kola in his speech.
The diverse programme of the Forum offered a wide variety of opportunities for participation
In addition to formal discussions, the EC2U Forum in Poitiers also included more informal meetings and exchange of experiences. As part of the Forum's programme, the Mobility Fair provided students with an opportunity to explore the offerings and study opportunities of the member universities of the EC2U Alliance.
A joint programme and activities were also organised for the students participating in the Forum. The Voice of Students session, which focuses on students' perspectives on their chosen topic, was this time organised by using various means of expression. The session offered the Forum participants a versatile and interesting way to experience students' views on the theme of Gender and Inclusion through the means of photography, performances and stand-up comedy, among other things.
The winner of the EC2U Science Battle competition was also decided at the Forum as teams from Jena and Pavia universities took the measure of each other. In the Science Battle competition, teams of researchers work together to find answers to questions sent in advance by the public. The University of Pavia team eventually won the extremely tight competition.