The European Commission has granted €14.4 million in continued funding to the EC2U Alliance that develops European university education and research as well as stakeholder collaboration. The University of Turku has been a member of the Alliance from the beginning. In its upcoming second phase, the Alliance grows with new members and activities.
“The continued funding strengthens the EC2U activities also in the University of Turku. The Alliance is becoming one of our most concrete channels for internationalisation in Europe,” says Vice Rector responsible for education Piia Björn who leads the EC2U Alliance at the University of Turku.
EC2U stands for European Campus of City-Universities. The purpose of the Alliance is to create a true pan-European campus that connects academic communities, citizens, and stakeholders in service of society. The second phase of the Alliance is characterised by words ”Empower, Connect, Collaborate, Unite”.
In addition to the University of Turku, the Alliance includes the University of Coimbra in Portugal, the University of Iași in Romania, the University of Jena in Germany, the University of Pavia in Italy, the University of Poitiers (Coordinator) in France, and the University of Salamanca in Spain. Partners to the Alliance include the universities’ home cities and student organisations.
”EC2U is a vision and aims at the build-up of the University of the Future, as an open and inclusive space where everyone participates to the creation and dissemination of knowledge. EC2U is about shared values, where all talents are at the service of society”, says Ludovic Thilly, Professor and Coordinator General of the EC2U Alliance.
Alliance Expands to New Universities and Activities
Since its creation, the EC2U Alliance has decided to promote the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). During its first years, the Alliance focused on Good Health and Well-being (SDG #3), Quality Education (SDG #4), and Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG #11). The EC2U Alliance is now extending its scope to a fourth: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions (SDG #16).
The Alliance’s first three-year phase ends in October and the new one starts in November 2023. In the second phase, the Alliance expands also to new areas. The Alliance is joined by the Johannes Kepler University of Linz in Austria, and later on by other partner universities. The network is further enhanced with the continued association with the Ivan Franko University of Lviv in Ukraine, extending the scope of the Alliance beyond the European Union and confirming its support to the Ukrainian people.
The expansion also concerns new activities. The plans include establishing a fourth international master’s degree programme related to the themes of peace and justice as well as a virtual institute. The Alliance also continues to deepen the collaboration between the universities, cities and other stakeholders extending the partnerships to companies and university hospitals in the regions.
Master’s Degree Programmes and Research Collaboration Initiated in Three-year Pilot Period
Already in its interim report, EC2U received praise for strong collaborative action. Researchers, teachers and students have visited the partner universities and the connections have created new collaboration. During the three-year pilot phase, EC2U has initiated three international master’s degree programmes, established three virtual institutes under different themes that bring researchers together, created study modules on different topics, such as entrepreneurship, and organised think tanks, which have aimed to seek joint European recommendations for actions, for example, in circular economy and social innovations.
“Although much remains to be developed, the Alliance has achieved a great deal during its pilot phase. Credit for this goes to coordinator Liisa Järvinen and the core team that meets each week to discuss topical EC2U matters,” says Vice Rector Björn.
In its new phase, EC2U gathers a community of more than 200,000 students and more than 25,000 university staff. In addition, over two million citizens live in the university cities belonging to the Alliance.
In the background of the Alliance is the goal of the European Commission to strengthen the quality, level and attraction of European universities education in the global arena. The European Universities initiative is the European Commission’s flagship project and its purpose is to increase the quality, efficiency, attraction, and international competitiveness of European higher education as well as to create innovative forms of collaboration and free mobility between seven universities and cities.
The goals of the Commission is that, by mid-2024, there will be 60 alliances that will cover over 500 higher education institutions. With today's results, adding seven new European Universities alliances, the total of 50 alliances now involve more than 430 higher education institutions in 35 countries.